Camphor popularly called Karpur / Kapoor in Hindi and Karpooram in Tamil has amazing benefits and uses for skin, hair, health and home. We get two types of camphor in India, one is called Edible Camphor which is got from plants and trees and the other is Synthetic Camphor.
Camphor whose scientific name is Cinnamomum Camphora is a white waxy substance that is highly flammable and it has been used in India from ancient times. Camphor has wide uses from treating cold, headache and cough when used as a muscle rub, for promoting hair regrowth when we use camphor essential oil mixed with coconut oil as a hair massage oil.
It is also used to treat muscle pain when used as a muscle rub, to treat skin problems like acne, eczema, pigmentation when used in face packs and finally as a mosquito repellent when combined together with neem oil or eucalyptus oil. Camphor water got by dissolving camphor in water or by mixing little camphor essential oil with water is also used extensively in remedies.
How is Camphor Made?
Camphor Common Names:
Camphor Chemical Constituents:
Camphor Medicinal Uses:
Camphor has analgesic (pain relieving), antiseptic, nasal decongestant, mild expectorant, counter irritant, rubefacient (that causes increased blood flow to the part of the skin it is applied), cough suppressant, anti spasmodic, anti bacterial and anti fungal and anti itching properties.
Camphor is mainly used topically world over and it is so famous because it acts as a mild anesthetic, increases heat in the area applied and also because it has a strong distinctive odor that opens up nasal passages when we inhale it. Camphor easily enters our skin and into our blood stream and this can happen through direct ingestion and inhalation of the vapors.
You will surprised to learn that camphor solely or in combination actually acts as a suppressant for certain types of tumors. It is also a radiosensitizer and treatment with camphor before radiation actually reduces the tumor size. There are many camphor based drugs that have been proven to be very useful for treating chronic inflammations and cancers.
Another important use of camphor is in making of carbon nanotubes which are used as a drug carrying vehicle for chemotherapy drugs to the cancer cells which are then excreted. Carbon nanotubes were usually made from petroleum products but now it is made from camphor which is an environmental friendly hydro carbon.
Camphor Essential Oil:
a. What Is Camphor Essential Oil?
Camphor essential oil is got by steaming the wood, stump and branches of camphor tree which is then rectified and filter pressed. After filter pressing, three different types of camphor oil are produced. They are white, yellow and brown camphor oil.
b. Types Of Camphor Essential Oil:
The three oils vary in safrole content with brown camphor oil containing around 80 % and yellow camphor oil containing around 10 to 20 % and the white camphor oil containing 8 % or less.
c. Camphor Essential Oil Benefits & Uses:
Out of these three only white camphor oil is used for therapeutic purposes and both yellow and brown camphor oils are considered toxic and carcinogenic due to the high amounts of safrole present.
Even the white camphor oil should be used with caution as it is a very very powerful oil. It is mainly used for cold, flu, bringing down the inflammation, sprains, arthritis, aches and pains and also as a wonderful insect repellent.
Edible Camphor | Pachai Karpooram:
a. What Is Edible Camphor?
Edible camphor is the camphor distilled from camphor tree. We use the edible camphor popularly called pachai karpooram in Tamil Nadu in cooking to add aroma to certain sweet dishes and also extensively in home remedies.
b. Varieties Of Edible Camphor:
c. Edible Camphor Benefits & Medicinal Uses:
At home, we use edible camphor both in home remedies and in cooking. We dissolve edible camphor in oil and use it as a chest rub when suffering from chest congestion, for treating inflammations, for treating fungal and bacterial infections and we also use it to get relief from itching caused by insect bites.
In cooking, we add tiny bit of pachai karpooram when we are making sweets especially ladoos. Pachai karpooram is sold in air tight sealed plastic covers in India and when using pachai karpooram always remember that little goes a long way. If you add even a tiny pinch more, it will spoil the taste as the smell is really overpowering.
a. What Is Synthetic Camphor?
b. Synthetic Camphor Uses:
Synthetic camphor is not used for medicinal purposes. We get synthetic camphor both in small tablet form and as a single big chunk. We use the small tablets for our prayers at home and the big sized camphor is used in temples. One big problem with synthetic camphor is the black smoke it emits when it burns.
I have stopped using synthetic camphor daily in my prayers because of the smoke and use it only on special occasions. Synthetic camphor can be used as an insecticide. To use synthetic camphor as an insecticide, mix a small piece of synthetic camphor in water and sprinkle in the area where the insects are found. But I would highly suggest limiting the use of synthetic camphor.
Camphor Side Effects:
Camphor has amazing medicinal uses if used in the correct dosage. We should always remember that camphor is highly dosage dependent and after a certain dosage it becomes highly toxic.
This applies to external application, internal consumption and inhaling the vapors. Also camphor enters into our blood stream very quickly so we should never use camphor oil on broken capillaries. Pregnant women should practice great caution when using camphor as it can cross the placental barrier and affect the baby.
Always keep camphor away from the reach of kids. Over dosage can result in abdominal pain, nausea, headache, palpitation and seizure, you can read the toxicity report of camphor over dosage here.
Where To Buy Camphor?
oil at home but if you want to buy camphor essential oil, you can order it online. If you want camphor powder, just powder the edible camphor finely using a mortar and pestle. When storing both types of camphor, make sure to store them in airtight boxes and when using it on fire to make camphor oil be careful as it is highly flammable….
25 Top Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses Of Camphor For Hair, Skin, Health & Home:
Camphor Benefits For Skin:
1. Camphor Water For Itching:
If you suffer from itching and rashes, do this simple home remedy using camphor water. Take a piece of edible camphor and mix it with little amount of water. Wash the affected area with this homemade camphor water rinse. You will find the itching gradually reducing. But make sure not to use the camphor water on open wounds and cuts.
2. Camphor for Acne & Acne Scars:
Massaging the skin with few drops of good quality camphor essential oil along with a base oil will treat acne and acne scars very effectively. But never use camphor essential oil directly on the skin. The best base oil for both oily and dry skin is jojoba oil, you can also use grape seed oil too
3. Camphor & Coconut Oil For Eczema & Psoriasis:
One of the main problems of eczema and psoriasis is the constant itching and camphor oil is very effective when applied on the affected area as it greatly helps relieve the itching. For the remedy, take 2 tbsp of virgin coconut oil in a bowl, add in 3 drops of camphor essential oil to it, mix and apply. You can store this oil for months together and use whenever needed.
4. Camphor & Rose Water For Shrinking Open Pores:
Camphor has astringent properties and when applied on the skin helps shrink open pores. To use, take 1 pinch of edible camphor and mix it in 1/4 cup pure homemade rose water till the camphor crystals dissolve (camphor does not easily dissolve in water), strain and store in a bottle. After cleansing your face, use this blend as a toner, it will greatly help shrink open pores.
5. For Toenail Infections:
For treating toe nail infections, take 2 to 3 liters of warm water in wide bowl large enough to immerse your feet. Add in a handful of neem leaves to it and finally add in few drops of camphor essential oil, mix well and soak your feet in it till the water turns cold. Since camphor has anti bacterial properties, it greatly helps treat and prevent toenail infections.
6. Camphor For Dark Circles:
For treating dark circles, mix 2 to 3 drops of camphor essential oil with 1 tbsp of cold pressed sweet almond oil and 1 tbsp of cold pressed grape seed oil and massage gently around the eyes. Regular use should fade away the dark circles soon.
7. Camphor For Pigmentation
Camphor greatly helps get rid of pigmentation, dark spots and scars resulting in fair and glowing skin. But please remember not to go above 8 to 10 % concentration when mixing camphor to base oils. To use, mix camphor water got by mixing tiny bit of edible camphor in water with besan and turmeric and apply as a pack.
Camphor Benefits For Hair:
8. Camphor For Dandruff:
Camphor is amazing for treating dandruff, in fact camphor is good for treating all scalp infections as it has anti bacterial properties. For treating dandruff, take 2 tbsp of sesame oil in an iron pan and heat till it gets warm. Now add in 2 drops of camphor essential oil and mix well. Use this mixture to massage your scalp. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes before having hair wash.
9. Camphor For Hair Growth:
Camphor improves blood circulation in the area it is applied and increased blood circulation strengthens the hair roots and greatly promotes hair growth. To use, you can use coconut oil and camphor essential oil blend as a pre-shampoo treatment or it can be applied in the night and washed off the next day morning.
10. Camphor For Hair Loss:
Camphor is great for arresting hair loss especially if the hair loss is caused due to scalp infections as it has wonderful anti bacterial properties. Also since it boosts blood circulation in the scalp, it strengthens the week hair roots thus arresting hair fall very quickly.
11. Camphor For Head Lice:
Camphor has amazing anti parasitic properties and it helps get rid of head lice very effectively. For treating head lice, remove the lice with a lice comb as much as you can. Now mix 1 tbsp of coconut oil with 2 drops of camphor essential oil and apply all over the scalp. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash it off.
Camphor Uses For Health:
12. Camphor for Pregnant Women:
In India, we make camphor oil at home to treat pregnancy cramps. Mustard oil or coconut oil is heated with a pinch of edible camphor till it is fully melted. Once it cools down to lukewarm temperature, it is can be massaged on the legs. I followed this remedy regularly when I was pregnant with my son as I suffered from severe leg cramps during the last trimester.
13. Camphor For Sprains:
Since camphor reduces pain it can be used as a massage oil when we suffer from minor sprains. To use mix 2 to 3 drops of camphor essential oil in a cup of warm water. Dip a thick cotton cloth in the mixture, wring out excess and apply as a compress on the affected area.
14. Camphor For Chest Congestion:
If you are suffering from chest congestion, camphor will greatly help. This home remedy for treating chest congestion is very popular in India and it is very effective. To make the remedy, take mustard or coconut oil and heat it along with tiny pinch of edible camphor. When it is warm, rub it on the child’s chest and back to get good relief from chest congestion.
15. Camphor For Arthritis:
Since camphor reduces inflammation very effectively, it can be used by people suffering from arthritis to reduce the pain and swelling. To use, mix few drops of camphor essential oil with unrefined sesame oil and massage gently in the joints.
16. Camphor For Cold, Flu & Headache:
If you are suffering from fever, cold and headache, a warm massage on the forehead with homemade vaporub made with camphor essential oil will help. For making the balm, heat 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 1 tbsp of beeswax in a double boiler or in low flame. Once melted add in 5 to 6 drops of camphor essential oil and mix well. Pour into a glass jar, let it set and use.
17. Camphor For Muscular Aches & Pains:
If you are suffering from aches and pains which can happen when we over exert ourselves, a camphor oil soak will help. For the soak, take a handful of Epsom salt in the bathtub and fill in warm water. Now add in 3 drops of camphor essential oil and soak in it. You will find your aches and pains reducing very quickly…
18. Camphor For Nervous Depression:
Camphor has a soothing effect on our nerves. If you are feeling nervous or depressed, take a diffuser and add in few drops of camphor essential oil and switch on. The smell of camphor will greatly help ease the nervousness….
19. Camphor As a Pain Reliever:
Camphor essential oil can be used as a wonderful pain reliever as it has analgesic properties. If you are suffering from any kind of pain and inflammation, massage the area gently with coconut oil and camphor essential oil mix. But please don’t use it on open wounds and cuts….
20. Camphor For Cough:
If you are suffering from cough follow this remedy: Boil water in a wide pan, I use an inhaler for steaming. Add just a drop or two of camphor essential oil and inhale. It will greatly help with the cough but please don’t add too much of camphor essential oil.
21. Anti Neuralgic Properties:
Neuralgia is a condition in which sharp pain extends along a nerve or a group of nerves. Camphor oil is a wonderful home remedy for it as it helps relieve the pain. Massage the area with camphor and coconut oil blend…
Camphor Uses Around Home:
22. Camphor For Ants:
Next time you have an ant problem in your home, don’t use harsh chemicals around your home. Dissolve a little edible camphor in some water and sprinkle over the area and see the ants vanish immediately. This is a very safe way to get rid of ants at home.
23. Camphor for Bed Bugs:
Camphor can be used to to effectively treat bed bugs. If you have bed bugs, wash the sheets and sun dry the mattress. Then take a large chunk of camphor and put it in a muslin bag and keep it between the mattress, this will drive away any left over bed bugs and prevent further attacks too.
24. Camphor Antiseptic Cleaner & Disinfectant:
If you want a natural disinfectant for your kitchen, all you have to do is take a cup of water in a spray bottle and add few drops of camphor essential oil to it and spray. You can use this to wipe away the surface weekly once to prevent insects and it also helps gets rid of germs. You can also dissolve 2 or 3 pinches of edible camphor powder in the water that you are going to mop the floor with…
25. Camphor For Cockroaches:
Camphor is great for getting rid of cockroaches too. For the remedy, boil a handful of neem leaves in a cup. Remove and add a small chunk of either synthetic camphor or edible camphor and spray on the areas where cockroaches are usually found. It is one of the best home remedies to get rid of cockroaches…..