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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Camphor Tree, Camphorated Oil, Cemphire, Gum Camphor, Laurel Camphor
(Cinnamomum camphora syn Camphora officinarum syn Laurus camphora)
[zhang mu]

Also see: Borneo Camphor

NOTE: Camphor is a cystallized substance (aromatic terpene ketone).
Similar compounds come from Borneo Camphor (Dryobalonops aromatica) and Ngai Camphor (Blumea balsamifera).
Can be found in cavities (wounds) in the trunks of trees.

• 1 gram can be LETHAL for a child!
• 20 grams in an ADULT can be fatal!
• Can be absorbed through the skin and cause SYSTEMIC POISONING!
• Symptoms of OVERDOSE are delirium, intoxication, spasms, vomiting,
heart palpitations, convulsions, and breathing difficulties!
• Camphor salves are NOT used on infants and small children as external
application can cause skin irritation and lead to POISONING through INHALATION!
• Can cause contact eczema or aggravate existing eczema!
• In Chinese medicine it is used internally, but ONLY the natural plant extract is used as commercially prepared camphor contains other chemicals!

CONTRAINDICATED: NOT applied to broken skin or burns. NOT used near the faces of infants and small chidren and especially not in the nasal area.

CONTAINS: Safrole, d-camphora, azulene, bisabolene, cadinine, camphene, camphor, alpha-camphorene, carvacrol, cineole, p-cymol, eugenol, laurolitsine, d-limonene, orthodene, alpha-pinene, reticulene, salvene, terpineol; branches and wood contain stearoptene.

A large evergreen tree native to Taiwan, Japan, and China.

PART USED: A crystalline extract is made from the wood and leaves [zhang nao] by steam distillation followed by further heating to extract the oil. Can also be obtained from wounds on the trees.


In Western medicine camphor has been used externally or as an inhalant. In Oriental medicine, it has been more apt to be used internally.
Bitter, spicy, warm, toxic, stimulant to circulatory and nervous systems, bronchio-antispasmodic, rubefacient, diaphoretic, antiseptic, anodyne, antispasmodic, vermifuge; affects heart, lung, and liver.
Has been used externally in liniments for joint pain, muscle pain, cardiac symptoms, congestion of the respiratory tract, and chilblains. An old method of treating strained ligaments and sprained ankles was to beat 3 to 5 egg whites until stiff, then add fresh camphor leaves which have been ground to a paste; the paste was applied to the area needing treatment and covered with cloth strips, then binding loosely with a bandage; egg white hardens; the process is repeated in 2 days; options are to substitute camphor leaves with eucalyptus leaves; also dried or powdered camphor (1 oz) was also used.
Has been used for chapped lips and cold sores.
Has been used as an inhalant for bronchial and nasal congestion.
Has been used in Chinese medicine for blood pressure problems, bronchitis, skin diseases, neuralgia, closed wounds, parasites, ringworm, scabies, other types of itching, and as smelling salts.The whole plant is used for abscesses, abdominal pain, arthritis, beri-beri, chholera, dermatophytosis, favus, morphenism, rheumatism, sclerosis, stomachache, toothache, traumatic injuries, tumors, and cancerous ulcers.
Has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, eye problems, indigestion, inflammations, muscle pain, epilepsy, painful menses, gout, rheumatism, to stimulate the heart (weak heart, irregular heartbeat), and insomnia.
Has been used for exhaustion, stomachache, abdominal pain, to stimulate blood circulation, and to remove excess moisture.
At one time a small block of camphor was worn around the neck in a red flannel bag to ward off colds and flu (Dorothy Hall, Creating Your Herbal Profile).

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
NOTE: Used in commercial preparations such as Vicks Vapo-rub and Mentholatum Ointment. Also used in commercial lotions to relive pain and itching.
GRAINS = Maximum of 3 grains
EXTRACT = 1 tsp in 2 cups of water, taken by sips.
TINCTURE = 5 to 10 drops; tincture is also inhaled to clear the lungs.
INTERNALLY = 30 to 100 mg
EXTERNALLY = 10% to 20% in creams and ointments (should not exceed 5% for children); 1% to 2% in camphor spirits.
LINIMENT = 1 oz. camphor USP in 4 oz olive oil; dissolve camphor in olive oil. Used for rheumatism or gouty joints, local pains and glandular swellings.
INHALATION = Small pieces are placed in boiling water and the vapor inhaled.

Camphor is NOT USED while taking homeopathic treatments! It is believed to interfere with the treatment.

Used as part of a more involved treatment for drying off milk in bitches.
Used to remove ticks and fleas from dogs (a few drops applied to a cotton ball).
Used to treat swollen glands (hot oil pack).
Used as an inhalant for pleurisy, pneumonia, and bronchitis in dogs.

Used for digestive problems and depression.

Cakes of camphor were once used to repel moths.

An ingredient of Swedish Bitters.
Used in the manufacture of celluloid.
Used in the making of incense.
Compound camphorated oil is a mixture of camphor and peanut oils.
Has been used in Chinese embalming practices.
Has been used in Chinese lacquerware.
Has been used by the Chinese to make inks and pigments which last for centuries.
Used in earth religion rituals to purify and cleanse homes and sacred areas of negative energies; also, used in incense form is said to inspire dreams of prophecy and divination; associated with the Chariot card of Tarot.
The wood is used to make camphor chests.

aka Borneol
(Dryobalanops aromatica)

CONTAINS: d-borneol.

NEEDS: Grown as a crop in well-drained, moist soil in sun or part shade with high humidity. Hardy to 60ºF.
PART USED: Oil, crystallized exudate

HARVEST: A clear yellow liquid called "oil of camphor" is produced by young trees from which it is tapped. Oil is also distilled from the tree. In older ones, it crystallizes in wounds and is collected.


Bitter, pungent, stimlant, anodyne, febrifuge, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial.
Has been used internally in Oriental medicine for fainting, convulsions due to high fever, cholera, and pneumonia.
Has been used externally for ringworm, rheumatism, abscesses, boils, cold sores, mouth ulcers, sore throat, and chest infection.

Considered antiseptic, sedative, heart tonic; used for skin problems, rheumatism, infectious diseases, depression, and convalescence.

d-borneol is used in perfumery.
The wood is used in building where resistance to termites is desired.

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH