Vaporizes At: 350ºF (177ºC)
Potential Medical Value: Antimicrobial, antioxidant, local analgesic
Also Found in: Camphor laurel, camphor basil, rosemary oil
Camphor is a distinct and potent aroma, principally derived from the camphor tree. Camphor is readily absorbed through the skin, and when applied topically, it produces a cooling sensation similar to that of menthol. Camphor also acts as a slight local anesthetic and an antimicrobial substance. Camphor has been used in traditional medicine from time immemorial in countries where it was native. It was probably the odor of the substance and its decongestant effect that led to its use in medicine. Camphor was used in ancient Sumatra to treat sprains, swellings, and inflammation. It has long been used as a medical substance in Āyurvedic treatments, considered to be an effective drug used for the treatment of fever. Camphor also was used for centuries in Chinese medicine for a variety of purposes. In Western Medicine, camphor was a component of paregoric, an opium/camphor tincture developed in the 18th century. Paregoric was used in various formulations for hundreds of years. It was a household remedy in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was widely used to control diarrhea in adults and children, as an expectorant and cough medicine, to calm fretful children, and to rub on the gums to counteract the pain from teething. Its use declined in the 20th century after the regulation of opium. Today camphor is used as a topical application in the product “Tiger Balm” and is used as a cough suppressant and decongestant in Vicks VapoRub.