Camphor benefits us in many ways, mental, physical and spiritual.
Camphor is used at the conclusion of ‘puja’ or worship in Indian homes. It catches a spark instantly, burns brightly and gives out a soothing fragrance but no residue. Lighting camphor before God symbolises that in the short span of life if we burn our ego and the attachment to sensual pleasures with the fire of true knowledge, we can lead a meaningful life (’fragrance’) and leave no residue of Karma that causes rebirth.
Camphor lit during worship; Source
Camphor is also used to ‘Tulasi Teertham’ or ‘tulsi water’ that is used in worship and later distributed amongst the devotees as His libation, gift, or ‘prasad’. This is made by adding edible camphor to water along with powdered cardamom, clove and nutmeg and a few basil leaves and then stored in a copper vessel. This holy water tastes heavenly, and offers other benefits too: it freshens the mouth and removes bad breath, has a calming effect and gives a good sleep.
Camphor is obtained by distilling the wood of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) that grows widely in China,Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia.
Camphor tree; via Wikipedia
Close-up of camphor flowers, leaves and fruit
Home Remedies Using Camphor
- Camphor is used to treat cold. Most balms available in the market contain camphor. You can warm some oil, eucalyptus oil if available, melt a little camphor in it and rub it on to the chest, back and forehead. This can be used on babies older than six months. Ayurveda believes that for infants, it is best to treat the lactating mother. If the mother is not breastfeeding the baby, you can reduce the camphor to a mere grain and rub the oil only on the baby’s back. Alternatively, you can keep a pot of water with a drop of camphor essential oil and leave it in the baby’s room.
- Camphor is a rubefacient and stimulates the dilation of capillaries. It is useful for treating rheumatic and joint pain. Camphor has active ingredients that can help regulate blood pressure in veins and arteries that surround joints. Since it has sedative properties, it is used in all commercially available ointments for rheumatism, sprains, bruises, and neuralgia. This increases circulation to the problem spot and speeds the healing. So, warming sesame/coconut oil with camphor and massaging the body with this oil before a warm shower would give relief to a sore and aching body.
Alternatively, you can make a poultice. First, make a batter of rice flour to which you can add a paste of ginger, mustard seeds and tulsi/basil. You can substitute thyme or rosemary for tulsi. Add a dash of sesame oil to the above mix and warm it and then add camphor in the end. Apply the poultice while it is still warm.
- You can use camphor as an astringent. Take 1 cup of rose water and add half its volume of witch-hazel and a tablespoon camphor. Strain and use to tighten and tone the skin. To make the astringent stronger, add a pinch of alum.
- Store in your fridge some water with a small quantity of crushed camphor. Then whenever you feel like it, just dip a cotton swab in this water and swab your face with it. Invigorating!
- Here’s another beauty tip. You can make a massage oil/cream for every-day use. Heat together equal volumes of coconut oil and lanolin. Then slowly add warm rose water to it. Beat the mix vigorously, adding a tablespoon of camphor to make a invigorating massage cream. Camphor helps sweating and is relaxing.
- Camphor is a moth and insect repellent. Natural history cabinets are therefore made of wood from the camphor trees so as to arrest fast degradation of wood. Historically, it was used in embalming and in funeral rites.
- For a good night’s sleep, you can add a pinch of edible camphor to warm milk and drink at bed time.
- Camphor stimulates the secretion of gastric juices and is used in ayurvedic ‘lehyas’ for digestion. For treating vomiting, take edible camphor, cardamom and ajwain (caraway seeds) and boil them in water. This can be stored for later use and can be carried during travel and used for indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Camphor stimulates the heart and regulates respiration. It is given to a patient who is collapsing. It restores the pulse beat to the normal level.
- Ayurvedic tooth powders contains camphor, because they help remove bad smell from the mouth. To treat painful gums, you can mix a little baking soda, salt and a pinch of edible camphor and make a paste and massage your gums and teeth with it.
- For treating itchy and lice-infested hair, use coconut oil in which camphor has been dissolved. This is useful against dandruff as well.
- Camphorated oil can be used to get relief from fungus-infected toe nails, although you should not use it on broken skin.
Caution in Using Camphor
Keep camphor away from children. It is toxic when ingested or even if applied externally in excessive amounts, especially to young children. Those with cardiac conditions should be cautious in using camphor-bsed medicines.