This herb is a crystalline substance that is distilled from the wood and roots of the camphor tree. It is a large evergreen that grows in Asia, South America, Florida and California, and has a similar smell to turpentine.
People would put cakes or pellets of this herb on their closet shelves or between blankets and sweaters. The camphor would vaporize and its fumes would ward off bugs.
This is a medicinal herb and not used for the purpose of herbal nutrition supplements.
Medically, it has a long and varied history; although, many of its uses have fallen out of favor because of potential toxicity problems. For example, used in alcohol, which was once known as a “pick-me-up” can actually cause liver damage.
External uses of it, however, is a different story. For years one of its most reputable uses was as a rub on oil, called camphor liniment. It consisted of cottonseed oil containing camphor, dissolved to make a strong 20% solution.
The FDA banned camphorated oil in 1980 after reports of poisoning through accidental ingestion and, less commonly, through skin absorptions. Although topical creams; such as, Ben-Gay and Aurum Gold Analgesic, contain up to 11% camphor are considered safe by the FDA.
These creams produce a sensation of warmth that helps relieve pain. They also increase blood flow to the area to which they are applied. Vicks Vapo Rub and Vicks Vapo Steam also contain camphor and there is evidence that inhaling the fumes from a the vaporizing ointment rubbed on the chest can ease congestion and coughing due to a respiratory problem.
You can purchase cake of pure camphor by special order at a pharmacy and make your own camphorated oil. But it is recommended that your better off buying an over the counter product that contains camphor in safe amounts than trying to do it yourself; ingesting amounts as small as a teaspoon can be fatal.
Other herbs with emollient actions include aloe vera, basil, burdock, chamomile, coltsfoot, comfrey, kelp, licorice, mullein and saw palmetto.
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