Camphor magic

Wellbeing

Camphor magic
Edible camphor – paccha karpoora or karpur – is obtained from a tree called the camphor tree (Cinnamonum camphora). The tree, native to south Asian countries grows to heights of around 100ft and it takes almost 50 years for the tree to begin producing the essential oil.

This oil extracted from the bark, roots, stumps and leaves of the tree by a process of distillation chiefly contains terpene, camphene, alcohol and safrol which have a cooling and soothing effect. Hence it is widely used in aroma therapy.

Referred to as sphatika (alum like) in Sanskrit, the extracted Camphor is a white, light and dry ingredient with a bitter-sweet taste and pungent flavour; it is volatile, flammable and has a strong aromatic odour. Though available as a synthetic product too - as a derivative of turpentine, it is the naturally available camphor which has numerous medicinal properties.

Camphor finds use as a stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-fungal, insecticide, germicide, decongestant and diaphoretic (sweat inducing) element. Widely used in many rasayana preparations, camphor is a rare element and acts as a coolant to the body.

As a home remedy it is widely used to relieve cold and cough. When mixed with warm sesame oil and rubbed over the chest, it acts as decongestant and facilitates easy breathing. Camphor oil is the principal ingredient in commercial cold rubs.

Camphor also has anti-inflammatory properties when mixed with eucalyptus or olive oil and rubbed as a liniment. This promotes circulation and provides relief from pain.

To get rid of head lice, dissolve a small piece of camphor in warm coconut oil and apply on the scalp. Leave it on overnight and wash off the next day. Repeat this in intervals till all the lice go away.

Wherever oral administration of camphor is required care should be taken to see that it is done under medical supervision only.

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