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Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Cinnamomum camphora

Other Common Name:


 Parts of the plant used:

The oil extracted from the tree, although the leaves, root and stems are also used in traditional medicine. The production of natural camphor has been replaced mainly by industrial chemical synthesis employing compounds found in turpentine.

How is it used?

The essential oil is diluted in almond oil and applied externally to improve capillary circulation, and raise blood pressure. The vapors are inhaled as treatment for upper respiratory tract ailments.

What is it used for?

Camphor oil preparations have been used both internally and externally for a variety of ailments, ranging from respiratory problems to rheumatic pain. The principal use of camphor is to reduce coughs. The plant contains substances, which upon contact with water, form a protective layer that covers the lining of the upper respiratory system, thus reducing mechanical irritation and preventing the cough reflex. Teas are sometimes ingested to remove secretions from the upper respiratory tract, but this form of application is not recommended, due to Camphor’s potential toxicity. The therapeutic dose closely approximates the toxic dose.


Safety / Precautions


  • Camphor ingestion may cause seizures in susceptible individuals. Avoid use in patients with epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Camphor preparations should not be taken internally due to their potential toxicity.
  • Do not employ camphor in any form during pregnancy and lactation. WARNING: As with any other essential oil, never apply camphor oil directly to, or near the nostrils of small children or asthmatic patients, as bronchial spasm and convulsions may occur, leading to respiratory arrest.
  • Camphor preparations applied to the skin during prolonged periods of time may be stored in body fat, causing intoxication.
  • Do not apply camphor oil on burned, injured or broken skin.
  • Camphor oil applied to the skin may cause irritation and contact eczema in some persons.
  • To treat infections of the upper respiratory tract, it is better to use other options that are less toxic than camphor. Keep all camphor-containing products away from children. If accidental ingestion occurs, call the nearest poison control center immediately!

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!