Camphor Benefits, Dose, Research, Side Effects

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

Sanskrit Synonyms-
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

Different Varieties-
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.

camphor tree
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.

Cinnamomum camphora tree

Camphor uses:
Camphor is one of the rare herbs which, being coolant, is useful to balance Kapha Dosha.

Anti-depressant activity

Camphor benefits

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.

External application:
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

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  1. Such an interesting compound. Smells so purifying. We used to make a thinnish sweet rice with milk, basmati rice, few bay leaves, bit of black pepper and pinch of camphor. Camphor should not really be tasted, just hinted at. And sugar, of course.. and offered to Lord Jagannath. A small piece of camphor is very helpful in starting fires for the homa; Is often used alone and lit on fire on a brass plate with flowers and a bit of water to offer before the Sri Murthis in arati. Thank you.

  2. What is the difference between camphor and brass kapur?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      As per my knowledge, Brass Kapur refers to Camphor used in Pooja (Hindu religious practices). It contains camphor plant product along with certain chemicals to help it burn better. That is not edible.
      camphor is directly from plant, without any additives, and is edible.

  3. Sir, Where we can buy a Camphor without Wax ? Is that natural kapoor or Bhimseni kapoor ?

  4. Well written. I am now clear with harathy karpur and edible/Pacha karpur. The former is mostly synthetic derived from turpentine & the later a plant product obtained be suitable distillation. Thank you for giving such a nice article my friend.

  5. sir can I conssume desi camphor orally if yes, so please let me know about dose or no then please share the reasion?


    • Dr Malini Bhat says:

      Dear sir, Edible Camphor should not be confused with normal camphor which we use for performing pooja and eliminating kan drishti. Normal camphors are made artificially from chemicals, mainly from turpentine. Edible camphor should not be consumed in large quantities but a pinch of it can be consumed. It is better to avoid giving it to children, pregnant and lactating women.
      Following are some of the serious Camphor side effects which can remind you that camphor should only be used in moderate quantities:
      • Camphor may cause the lips to over dry.
      • Camphor leads to skin redness and rashes when over-used.
      • Camphor is highly toxic for humans. Its small amounts too can lead to death in children and toxicity in adults. Camphor hepatotoxicity is a serious side-effect of camphor ingestion.
      • Camphor can cause acute chemical imbalance in the brain. This leads to seizures. This is a very serious side effect of camphor ingestion.

  6. NEHA LAUR says:

    sir, can edible camphor oil be used for application to treat eczema. if yes then in what quantity and can it be applied on skin of a 8 year old child who is suffering from eczema?

    thank you

    • Dr Malini Bhat says:

      Madam, As it is for a kid a expert supervision is highly recommended. Camphor oil can cause burning so I would not advise you to apply that.

  7. Sirji now days we are getting camphor tablets with mixing of hexamine powder how much dangerous its for us while we are using in temples homes

  8. Nitesh agarwal says:

    what is bhemseni kapoor and can i use in treating fistula

    • Dr Malini Bhat says:

      Hello Sir, Bhimseni Karpoor is the camphor we use it in Puja. The one used is fistula is Cinnamonum Camphora which is different from the Bhimseni camphor.
      Do consult a Ayurvedic physician for the same.

  9. My grandmother used Kapoor as one of the ingredients to making Kaajal. Wondering if Pache karpooram can be used in Kaajal? Where can we buy Pache karpooram from?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Pache Karpoor can be used for making Kajal. It is available in local Ayurveda / herb store.

  10. Suresh Kumar says:

    Can it be used for treating Skin Disease (palmnoplantar) on palm and finger region.

  11. Veer Kashyap says:

    How can edible camphor help in treating external piles?
    Please suggest

  12. I had came across a kapur that has yellow orange color sand like granules with white granules also. The man told me it’s bhimseni kapur.Please tell me if it’s right .

  13. Can i apply karpooradhi thailam for neck ( cervical ) pain ? Will it work. If not which is the best oil ? what should i have as internal medicine for cervical / neck / shoulder pain…pls advise…

  14. What is the use of Bhimseni Kapoor in Piles?

  15. Sir please suggest whether bhimaseni kapur is use full in treatment of fistula. Iam taking this kapur with banana is it use full for fistula Or plz suggest any other medicine or herbes for treatment of fistula

  16. Sushma KS says:

    Is karpura helps to reduce the skin marks like wound marks or pimples marks?

  17. Feroza begum says:

    Hello sir , Is karpoor can be used to give orally to babies , as it is present in janam ghutti

  18. Doctor please show us the ayurvedic way of making kajal to keep eyes cool.

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