Camphor is a substance that is extracted from the wood of certain species of plants found in Asia. The camphor basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum), a medicinal herb found in parts of Asia, is the major source of camphor. Camphor is also extracted from the wood of the camphor plant (Cinnamomum camphora). This plant, which you see in the image, is found in many parts of Asia. The chemical formula of camphor is C10H16O and it is an aromatic compound. Although camphor is an organic compound, it can be synthesized in the laboratory from alpha-pinene, which is an oil extracted from conifers. Due to its rich aroma, camphor is used as an ingredient in Asian delicacies.
Camphor Spirit: An Overview
'Camphor spirit' is a term used for a solution of alcohol and camphor. The alcohol used as a solvent is mostly pure ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH). The solution is widely used to treat diseases but has been proven to have many side effects. Hence, it is recommended that you consult your physician before the intake of camphor spirit, even in very small doses. An interesting fact about camphor spirit (or 'spirit of camphor' as it is also known as) is that even though it supposedly has a host of health benefits, none of them has been medically proven.
Thus, administering camphor spirit in any form remains a method of treatment practiced only in certain forms of alternative therapy. For example, it is used as an essential oil in aromatherapy. The standard concentration of camphor spirit is 10%, which translates to 10 g of camphor in every 100 ml of alcohol. Camphor spirit has many medicinal properties and a few other uses as well.
Health Benefits of Camphor Spirit
Camphor spirit is prescribed as a remedy for skin infections such as sciatica, myalgia, arthralgia, etc. It is also an effective treatment for joint pain and used as an antidote for carbolic acid poisoning. Given below are some of the medicinal uses of camphor spirit. As mentioned earlier, none of these benefits have been medically proven and intake of the substance might prove fatal for certain high-risk groups. Hence, you must consult your doctor before you consume camphor spirit.
Relieves Pain and Inflammation
One of the primary uses of camphor spirit is its ability to cure inflammation of the skin and muscle tissue, caused by minor injuries, insect bites, sprains and strains. However, keep in mind that you should never apply camphor spirit on cuts, wounds or broken skin. Also, the maximum concentration of the spirit recommended by the FDA is a 10% solution.
Camphor spirit can also act as an effective treatment for cough and cold. All one needs to do is take a small quantity of the spirit and rub it on the chest of the patient. Again, the FDA recommends that the concentration should not exceed 10%.
Spirit of camphor also has antibacterial and antifungal properties and can be used to treat some bacterial infections. Also, it is used in antibacterial solutions.
Not many people know that the strong aroma of camphor spirit has soothing properties and can help calm the mind and cure restlessness. It is used to treat symptoms of hypertension and other similar symptoms.
To get relief from cough, cold and nasal congestion, you can add a few drops of camphor spirit to the water in a steamer and inhale the steam. However, remember that camphor in any form is harmful if taken internally, and only topical application is recommended and that too in small doses.
Other Uses of Camphor Spirit
The uses of camphor spirit are similar to the uses of camphor. In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, camphor spirit has many other uses. Some of these uses are given below.
- Used as an ingredient in paints and varnishes
- Used as an insect repellent
- Used in the manufacturing of plastics
- Added to medicines as a preservative
If taken internally, camphor spirit can cause allergies and may even prove fatal. So, in spite of its many medicinal properties, you should exercise caution before using it.