Camphor – Learn about the benefits of this medicinal plant

The camphor is an extremely versatile herbal remedy that should be used cautiously. Its compounds act on the involuntary nervous system and trigger a variety of effects. Camphor inhalations facilitate coughing and phlegm secretions in bronchitis.

Borneol camphor,liquorice,ginger with lemon grass use for Thai herbal compress ball

Medicinal benefits of camphor

The rubs camphor stimulate circulation and have a positive effect on heart disease. However, other medicinal plants or drugs are now preferably used for heart problems or coughs. The discomfort due to rheumatic problems also respond to an external treatment with camphor. Its application mainly extends to external muscles and aching joints.

Strictly speaking, camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) is not a medicinal plant, but the ingredient of a medicinal plant, that is, the camphor tree. This ingredient is obtained from the wood and especially from the bark of the camphor tree.

The camphor tree is one of the laurel family and is primarily native to Southeast Asia. The good quality extract comes from plants over 50 years old. Meanwhile, camphor has prevailed as a plant name, but medicinal.

The most striking feature of the first encounter with camphor is the unpleasant acrid smell. This odor is due to the volatile components of camphor essential oil.

In processing this oil, it is purified and camphor remains the only substance. This is further processed as a crystalline powder, mainly in solutions.

Indications for using camphor

  • This dissolves bronchial secretions, stimulates circulation, relaxes the bronchi, inhibits inflammation, promotes skin circulation (for external use only)
  • Maintain a safe dose – taking large amounts is life threatening
  • Not suitable for asthmatics and other chronic respiratory diseases
  • Not suitable for pregnant women, infants and children
  • Used during: rheumatic disorders, muscle tension, heart problems, low blood pressure, bronchitis, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.

Camphor benefits

In modern herbal medicine, it is used primarily in rheumatism and other diseases associated with muscle or joint pain. The application is done in the form of rubbing or hydrotherapy.

Mode of action against rheumatism and muscle pain

This ingredient irritates the skin and stimulates the nerve endings, which eventually leads to an anesthetic effect. Pain and itching can be mitigated for this reason. At the same time, camphor stimulates circulation near the surface of the skin. This accelerates the healing of inflammation, for example. Also, the supply of oxygen and nutrients increases in the area of ​​pain.

Due to skin irritation, you should reduce the external application to the necessary level. Most camphor products, such as alcohol or ointments, should not be used more than 4 times a day.

Effect on heart ailments

The external use of camphor plays an important role in the treatment of heart problems. For a long time, creams with this ingredient were believed to stimulate circulation to alleviate heart problems. This seems to be out of date for now. However, when used internally, it is said to have a cardiotonic and hypertensive effect. The exact mode of action, however, is unknown.

Effect on low blood pressure

The internal use of this ingredient in tablet or capsule form is aimed at stabilizing the walls of the blood vessels and stimulating circulation. That could explain an effect against low blood pressure.

Effect on the respiratory tract

Camphor is irritating to the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract when rubbed in (indirectly by inhaling volatile components) or when inhaled. This is supposed to trigger an effect that relaxes the respiratory tract and promotes the expectoration of mucus, especially from the bronchi.

The manufacturers of the corresponding products claim a similar effect in case of a cold. In this case, what it does is narrow the small blood vessels in the nasal mucosa and, therefore, have a decongestant effect. However, this effect is clearly unproven.

In addition, the antimicrobial effect of this plant is used for respiratory diseases. The volatile compounds in camphor oil have a disinfecting effect. Colds that cause illness can be cleared faster, and new germs are more difficult to penetrate. Also, camphor stimulates the respiratory center in the brainstem. Consequently, breathing for colds can be improved.

Some care for use

It must be used with great care due to the danger of poisoning. Released vapors can cause respiratory arrest. As little as 0.2 g of camphor occasionally causes severe reactions in adults. For babies, the intake of just 1 gram is life threatening. This and other essential oils should not be used in babies and young children under two years of age. To be safe, it should not be used externally until age six.

Either externally or internally, camphor should not be used in children suffering from seizures and / or fever attacks without medical advice.

Also, it is not suitable for people with asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases due to the essential oil content. Essential oils can irritate mucous membranes in such a way that asthma attacks can occur.

In case of liver diseases and diseases of the biliary tract, a doctor should always be consulted before use. This is important because this ingredient can cause serious damage to liver cells.

Basically, it can only be applied to intact skin, never to open wounds or burns. Due to the lack of a skin barrier, too much camphor could enter the body and damage cells and tissues.

This ingredient is transferred to the fetus in the womb and absorbed in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant and lactating women should not be treated with camphor.

Beware of overdose

Like all medicines, this ingredient should definitely be stored safely and protected from children. It is included in many cold remedies that are also used in children.

Also pay attention to the dosing instructions for the products. Overdose poses serious health risks. Taking large amounts of camphor causes seizures, epileptic seizures, and severe nerve damage, which can lead to coma and death. 

Side effects and use of camphor

The side effects of taking camphor can be headache, restlessness, dizziness, or hot flashes. An overdose manifests itself in nausea, shortness of breath, panic attacks, and memory disorders. In case of these complaints, discontinue the use of camphor immediately and consult a doctor if necessary. When applied externally, skin irritation or ulceration (eczema) is possible.

Many camphor consumer products contain alcohol. These products are not suitable for alcoholics, nor for pregnant women, infants and children.

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