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Camphor essential oil information

Camphor essential oil is extracted from the Cinnamomum Camphora (also known as Laurus camphora) of the Lauraceae family and is also known as true camphor, hon-sho, gum camphor, as well as Japanese and Formosa camphor.

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Although this oil has got some toxic effects, it can be used with great effect in vapor therapy to clear the lungs, dispel apathy and calm nervous depression. It has a beneficial effect on any psychosomatic ailments, while having some distinct benefits for the skin when used with great care.

Oil properties

After distillation and rectification under vacuum it is filter pressed and 3 fractions of oil are produced known as white, yellow and brown camphor.

Only the white camphor oil is used and has a clear and fresh smell. The brown and yellow camphor is toxic and carcinogenic since it contains safrole and is not used in aromatherapy.

Origin of camphor oil

The camphor tree can grow up to 35 meters (100 feet) and the active component is found in every part of the tree. The tree is native to Formosa (Taiwan), China and Japan and can often grow very old. It must be at least 50 years old to produce the oil.

It was a well known remedy against the plague in Persia, now Iran and was also used in embalming, while the Chinese used it to build ships and temples, because of the durable and aromatic properties of the wood.

Extraction camphor oil

Camphor oil is extracted by steam from the the chipped wood, root stumps and branches and is then rectified under vacuum and filter pressed.

Chemical composition

The main chemical components are a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, phellandrene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, y-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, furfural, camphor, linalool, bornyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, caryophyllene, borneol, piperitone, geraniol, safrole, cinnamaldehyde, methyl cinnamate and eugenol.

The brown and yellow camphor oil has a very high safrole content, with yellow having between 10 - 20 % and the brown having 80%. These two oils are considered toxic, as well as carcinogenic.

Precautions

Camphor oil is a powerful oil and should be used with care. It is not really used in aromatherapy as it is classed as a convulsant and neurotoxin.

Overdosing can cause convulsions and vomiting and pregnant women as well as people suffering from epilepsy and asthma should not use it.

Therapeutic properties

The therapeutic properties of camphor oil are analgesic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, cardiac, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypertensive, insecticide, laxative, rubefacient, stimulant, sudorific, vermifuge and vulnerary.

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Uses camphor oil

Camphor oil can be used in the treatment of nervous depression, acne, inflammation, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, sprains, rheumatism, bronchitis, coughs, colds, fever, flu and infectious diseases.

Since this oil can be toxic, it should NOT be used in aromatherapy massage, but could be used in vapor therapy to ease respiratory problems. In some cases it can also be used in compresses.

Summary

Camphor oil is a balancing oil, it can sedate the nerves and uplift apathy. It can help with feeling cold and reduces inflammation. It is used with great effect to repel insects such as flies and moths.

It also has a positive effect in colds and flu, infectious diseases, bronchitis, coughs, and can assist with muscular pains, rheumatism, sprains, arthritis etc.

  • Burners and vaporizers
    • In vapor therapy camphor oil can be used with great effect for the heart, clearing the lungs and boosting circulation, as well as calming nervous diseases and for convalescence.
  • Cold compresses
    • For bruises and sprains, cold compresses are effective.
  • In a cream
    • Although very small amounts of camphor oil would be included in any formulation, it does have value in fighting inflammatory conditions and reducing redness, making it useful for treating acne, burns and sore chapped hands.

Camphor oil blends well with

Although essential oils in general blend well together, camphor oil blends particularly well with the basil, cajuput, chamomile, lavender and melissa.

 

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