Camphor essential oil - Cinnamomum camphora - Vietnam
Camphor essential oil is extracted from the Cinnamomum Camphora (also known as Laurus camphora) of the Lauraceae family and is also known as true camphor, hon-sho, gum camphor, as well as Japanese and Formosa camphor.
The camphor tree can grow up to 35 meters (100 feet) and the active component is found in every part of the tree. The tree is native to Formosa (Taiwan), China and Japan and can often grow very old. It must be at least 50 years old to produce the oil.
It was a well known remedy against the plague in Persia, now Iran and was also used in embalming, while the Chinese used it to build ships and temples, because of the durable and aromatic properties of the wood.
Camphor oil is extracted by steam from the the chipped wood, root stumps and branches and is then rectified under vacuum and filter pressed.
The main chemical components are a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, phellandrene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, y-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, furfural, camphor, linalool, bornyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, caryophyllene, borneol, piperitone, geraniol, safrole, cinnamaldehyde, methyl cinnamate and eugenol.
The brown and yellow camphor oil has a very high safrole content, with yellow having between 10 - 20 % and the brown having 80%. These two oils are considered toxic, as well as carcinogenic.
Camphor oil can be used in the treatment of nervous depression, acne, inflammation, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, sprains, rheumatism, bronchitis, coughs, colds, fever, flu and infectious diseases.
Since this oil can be toxic, it should NOT be used in aromatherapy massage, but could be used in vapor therapy to ease respiratory problems. In some cases it can also be used in compresses.
Camphor oil is a powerful oil and should be used with care. It is not really used in aromatherapy as it is classed as a convulsant and neurotoxin.
Overdosing can cause convulsions and vomiting and pregnant women as well as people suffering from epilepsy and asthma should not use it.