Camphor is a white, crystalline substance that is extracted from the wood of the camphor laurel, an evergreen tree. It is available in several forms, including oil, ointment, salve and soap, and has varied health benefits.
Applying camphor oil topically to clean, unbroken skin relieves muscle spasms and cramps. According to an article by Aparup Mukherjee on OrganicFacts.net, it is also effective in easing convulsions, nervous disorders, epileptic attacks and general nervousness.
However, overdosing on camphor has been known to cause convulsions and epileptic seizures, especially among those who suffer from asthma or other breathing problems. Using camphor can be beneficial in a myriad of applications, but strict adherence to dosing instructions is vital.
Camphor improves circulation. As such, camphor oil, ointment or salve warms the skin and increases blood flow to sore muscles. It is also an effective treatment for pain associated with arthritis and rheumatic joint issues.
Perhaps camphor's most widely used application is as a decongestant. Its distinctively strong aroma helps open congested airways (nasal, lung, bronchial). The soothing ointment tingles and offers an initial cool sensation when rubbed on the chest or sinus cavities.
Camphor acts as an effective anti-inflammatory agent by numbing the peripheral sensory nerves.
Although most forms of camphor are to be used strictly externally, white camphor oil is safe to ingest as a cough suppressant. White camphor oil is an active ingredient in certain aromatic candles and throat lozenges. The scented candles help open up airways and the cough drops coat the lining of the upper respiratory system, easing a bothersome cough.
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