Camphor is a rare herb which, being coolant, balances Kapha Dosha and reduces fat and cholesterol levels. Camphor used for medicinal use is slightly different than the camphor used in Pooja / Spiritual practices. In the market, you get the edible camphor usually in powder form. Though modern science categorizes it as unsafe for oral consumption, in a very low specified dose, it is useful in certain diseases.
Botanical Name- Cinnamomum Camphora Nees & Eberm
Names in different languages:
Hindi & Bengali Name-Karpur
English Name- Camphor tree, Camphor laurel
Kannada Name – Pache karpoora
Telugu Name- Karpooram Chettu
Tamil Name- Karpooram, Pachai Karpooram
Marathi & Gujarati Name- Karpur
Chandrapradha – the shining resembles to that of moonlight
Sheetabhra, Sheetala Raja – coolant to touch
Hima, Himavaluka – appears similar to ice particles
Surabhi – emits fragrance
Sphatika – as white as alum
Dhanvantari Nighantu Sodhala mentioned Pakva (artificial), Chinaka and Apakva (natural) varieties of Kurpura.
Bhava Prakasha and Raja Nighantu also mentioned similar varieties.
According to Kaiyadeva, three are three varieties – Ishavasa, Hima sanjnaka & Potashraya.
Later, he quoted that Karpura is two types basing on the processing i.e Pakva (prepared) and Apaka (natural).
He further explained that Chinaka variety is artificial camphor.
In Raja Nighantu about 14 types of Karpura on the basis of Rasa, Guna and Veerya
Usually, the camphor found on the tree pits and branches is called Apakva (natural) Karpura. The camphor prepared by using distillation procedure is the Pakva(artificial) variety of Karpura. The former variety will be heavier than the later and sinks in the water.
There is a variety called Bhimseni Karpoora – which is correlated to Dryobalanopas camhora Colebr (DIPTEROCARPACEAE)
Chunekarji explained four varieties of camphor viz.
(i) Bhimseni or Baras Karpura (D. Camphora)
(ii) Cini or Japani Karpura (D. camphora)
(iii) Patri or Nagi Karpura- Blumea balsamifera; B.Lacera B. desiflora etc.
(iv) Krutima Karpura- Synthetic variety camphor.
(v) Now a days camphor is being synthetically prepared by using turpentine. This is however used for offerings to god. It is not meant for medicinal use.
Distribution- Native of China, Japan and Taiwan.
Cinnamomum camphora – chemical composition:
Campher, Campherol, Cineol, Camphene, dipentene, terpineol, candinene, safrole, camphorace, laurolitsine, reticuline etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Camphor – Medicinal Properties
Rasa (taste) – Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), Madhura (sweet)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (light to digest), Rooksha (Dryness)
Vipaka-Katu – undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya – Sheeta – coolant in nature.
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Pitta Dosha.
Part Used- Niryasa (extract)
Dosage- 125-375 mg, in divided dose per day.
Camphor is one of the rare herbs which, being coolant, is useful to balance Kapha Dosha.
Camphor for heart, fat and cholesterol –
Chedana, Lekhana – has scraping property, useful in balancing Kapha, in respiratory disorders and in cholesterol / clot deposition in blood vessels
Medohara – reduces fat and cholesterol levels
Camphor acts as a blood thinning agent. It is also used in low blood pressure.
Camphor for oral disorders:
Mukhashoshahara – Relieves mouth dryness
Mukha vairasyahara – relieves bad breath problem. This is why camphor has been used as an ingredient in betel leaf combination – Pan – Tambul
Kanta Doshahara – clears throat.
It relieves toothache.
Vishahara, Vishapaha – Anti toxic
Chakshushya – improves vision, good for eyes, useful in eye disorders
Madakaraka – over-dosage may cause intoxication.
Yogavahi – acts as a catalyst
Dahahara – being a coolant, it relieves burning sensation
Vrushya – acts as aphrodisiac in lower doses. However, higher doses decrease sexual performance.
Medhya – improves intelligence
Kruminashana – relieves intestinal worm infestation
Cheenaka variety of Karpoora is Ati Pittala – increases Pitta Dosha.
Its vapors inhaled lead to relief from chest congestion due to excessive sputum. It is also used in cough treatment.
Camphor oil is used externally to treat arthritis pain and rheumatism.
A teaspoon of Camphor oil is mixed along with 100 ml of olive oil / sesame oil. This is applied externally to improve blood circulation.
Camphor is FDA approved for external application in a concentration of 3 – 11 %
In preparing liniments:
Herbal oils are mixed with camphor, menthol, thymol, Eucalyptus oil etc, to prepare pain relieving liniment. This liniment gives a coolant / counter-irritant effect to the liniment. It also makes the liniment to evaporate from the applied body part.
Camphor Side effects:
For external application, in any product, the camphor concentration should not be more than 11 %
Artificially prepared camphor prepared from turpentine is not suitable for oral consumption. Do not get confused it with the edible camphor.
Camphor is used in treating low blood pressure. Hence, it is not suitable for people with high blood pressure.
It is best to avoid its usage in epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease patients.
Its oral usage should only be done under strict medical supervision.
It is not meant to be consumed by children, pregnant and lactating mother. However, it can be safely used by external application method.
Camphor oil should not be directly given for asthmatic patients to inhale. It may trigger spasms.
Camphor poisoning – over-dosage may lead to seizures, confusion, restlessness, nausea, vomiting etc.
Ayurvedic medicines with camphor as ingredient:
Vayu Gulika – used in treating cough, cold, fever etc. It is used mainly in respiratory and gastric conditions.
Kombanchadi Gulika – used in treatment of fever, cough and cold
Gandhaka Malahara – An ointment used in eczema and itching skin disorders
Karpoorasava – used in the treatment of vomiting and diarrhoea.
Manasamitra Vatakam – used in Ayurvedic treatment of psychiatric conditions, to improve intelligence, speech problems, etc