Camphor

Latin:  Cinnamonum camphor

Family:  Lauraceae

Parts Used:  Distillation from leaves and occasionally fruit and bark.

Taste/Energetics:    Bitter, pungent, cooling

Properties:  Antimicrobial, antiviral, sedative, antispasmodic, stimulant, analgesic, expectorant

Actions:  The leaves from this tree are primarily used as an essential oil.  Traditionally it grows well in sub-tropical climates in places such as China, Madagascar , India and Ceylon.  Generally the leaves of this tree are distilled to make aromatic smelling camphor oil. It is quite pungent and acrid and can be toxic if taken internally.  It is used commercially for artist’s paints, inks, varnish and for burning.  It can be used in salves and liniments in very small amounts and useful for sprains, bruises and muscle pain, restlessness and cramping.    Medicinally camphor has antimicrobial properties, is antiviral for shingles and is useful for infections, especially of the lungs.

In terms of mental health camphor I tend to think of  camphor in salves and liniments primarily for those who are frustrated and restless with symptoms of pain such as arthritis, gout, and rheumatism.  Camphor helps move and circulate the blood so there is less blockage and tension in the tissues and therefore brings pain relief and relaxation.  It has been used to calm mania, hysteria, panic and anxiety and interestingly the scent can become so overpowering and intoxicating that people can get hooked on it.

Dose:  Most often used used in essential oil in sprays, bath salts and massage oils.  5 drops essential oil in 10 ml of carrier oil.

Contraindications:  Standard essential oil precautions. Do not take internally.