CAMPHOR - It is considered as expectorant, carminative, antiseptic, vapours are inhaled to treat cold, useful for Cough, bronchitis and whooping cough.



Camphor officinalis

Syn. Cinnamomum camphora (L) 

Nees & Eberum.

Family : Lauraceae

Unani name : Kafoor

Parts used : Leaves, fruits, bark and oil.

System Affected : Pulmonary and nervous system.

Specific Action : Antiseptic, coolant and local anaesthetic.

As to the Righteous.
They shall drink
Of a cup (of Wine)
Mixed with Kafur. (Surah Dahr - 76. V : 5)

Kafur is literally Camphor. It is a fountain in the Realms of Bliss. It is a seasoning added to the cup of pure, beatific wine, which causes no intoxication but stands for all that is whole some, agreeable and refreshing. Camphor is cool and refreshing and is given as a soothing tonic in eastern medicine. in minute does its odour and flavour are also agreeable. (Explaining the  word Kafur, Allama Yousuf ali states in his note. 5835). Both Pickethall and Yousuf Ali have retained the word Kafur in their English translation and have not written camphor instead. 

Historical Background:

there were only two types of plants from which camphor was obtained in earlier times. One is Malaysian tree known as Dryobalanops camphor and other is a Chinese plant called cinnamomum camphora (L). The price of Malaysian camphor was very high; it was worth its weight in gold. None of the civilizations of Egypt, Rome and Greece knew about it. In fact it is not mentioned in the old Greek medicine. Neither Dioscorides nor Galan have mentioned camphor in their work.Hitti 91953) who reported that Arabs came to know about camphor only after the conquest of Persia in 637 A.D. Persian called it Kafur, in India it was called Kapur or Karpura. It was referred to in the books of Arab physicians and Geographers only during 9th cenrury A.D and this was the costly Malaysian kafur (watt,1896). Chinese camphor became known to the world only when Marcopolo gave details of camphor producing trees in 13th century (Benedetto, 1950). From the above references it is evident that Arabs knew nothing about camphor before Islam and only became familiar with it in the late 9th century. (Farooqi, (1992) - evidence presented to support his argument.)   

Chemical constituents and Medical properties:

Camphor is a white solid with pungent smell and taste. The Malaysian camphor (Dyrobalanops aromatic) is obtained by scratching the white exudates from the trunk and branches of the tree and contains d-Borneol as the main constituent. The Chinese camphor is obtained by adding the pieces of wood in boiling water and purifying the extract through sublimation. It contains 2-camphanone as the main ingredient, both the camphors have similar properties and action. But as they are very punjent they are not used in food preparations and their use in medicine whether for external
or internal use, is always with caution. Camphor is highly effective as medicine, both internally and externally but it is not  suitable for any food preparation or as flavour additive in drinks (Farooqui, 1992).

According to Duke (2201) essential oil from C.camphora is obtained from the wood by distillation and  the oil containing Camphor and Safrole, is used in the preparation of expensive perfumes. Camphor is used in the preparations for external application as a counter irritant in the treatment of muscular strains, gout, inflammations, itching of the skin and rheumatic conditions. It is a weak antiseptic, It small doses it stimulates respiration especially when it is depressed by either, morphine or other drugs. Due to this property camphor is used in the treatment of bronchitis, asthma, lung congestion, rhinitis emphysema. It is also used as an analeptic in cardiac depressions, myocarditis and paralysis. It has calmative influence in hysteria, nervousness, convulsions, epilepsy and cholera. It is also used in the treatment of toothache and severe diarrhoea.

The use of camphor in Ayurvedic medicine is worth noting. In western herbalism it is used only externally as oil, but in Ayurveda it is also taken internally in the form of infused or powdered camphor crystals. According to Frawley and Lad (1993) camphor  increases prana, opens senses and brings clarity to the mind. A pinch of camphor powder is taken nasally for congestion, headache and to awaken perception. It is also used to treat tooth decay, nasal congestion, sinus headaches and whooping cough. Helpful in pulmonary congestion, asthma, hysteria, epilepsy, delirium, dysmenorrhea, gout and rheumatism, It is burnt as an incense to purify the atmosphere and promote meditation.

Medicinal Properties : 

The plant is used in insecticidal preparations. It is considered as expectorant, carminative, antiseptic, anthelmintic, stimulant and anodyne. Camphor vapours are inhaled to treat cold and affection of  chest. Its liniment is considered helpful in rheumatism, sprains, bruises and anflammation. It is given in the treatment of cough, bronchitis, whooping cough and as anti-spasmodic in certain conditions especially asthma, hysteria, epilepsy and dysmenorrhoea. Drops prepared from plant are useful in earache.


Share on Google Plus

About G A Moinuddin

Ahmed Moinuddin retired from his position as HR Manager in a top Indian Public Sector Organization. He holds Masters in Sciences and has versatile experience in managing people and departments. His passion is to share knowledge from the bucket of experiences he had over these years at personal and professional front.
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment