Camphor is a white, crystalline substance with a strong odor and pungent taste, derived from medicinal and aromatic plant locally known as Sarang Bejit. This natural compound has been widely found in numerous oils including from the wood of the camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora L.) trees through steam distillation. It is also found in oils of sassafras, rosemary, spike lavender, reunion basil and Dalmation Sage (Fragrance Raw Materials Monograph). In Asia, a major source of camphor is from Ocimum kilimandscharicum Baker ex Gurke.
Propagated Sarang Bejit
Camphor is a natural product with many applications in traditional and modern medicines. Traditionally, camphor has been used as a cold remedy for the relief of chest congestion and well known as a principal ingredient in topical home remedies for a wide range of symptoms such as rheumatism, sprains, asthma and muscle pain (Zuccarini, 2009). It has been used as antiseptic, analgesic, antipruritic, counterirritant and rubefacient (Liebelt and Shannon, 1993) and also a popular household remedy used for nasal decongestant and cough suppressant (Burrow et al., 1983). Camphor used today is mostly in the form of inhalants and of camphorated oil such as 19% or 20% camphor in a carrier oil, for treating colds (Jochen and Theis, 1995). Rabiu et al (2011) reported that in India, camphor is widely used in cooking for dessert dishes such as kheer or paal paayasam and widely available at Indian grocery stores and labeled as "edible camphor".
Camphor was given GRAS status by Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA 1965) and also approved by the FDA for food use (21 CFR 172.515) and was included by the Council of Europe (1974) at a level of 25 ppm (Fragrance Raw Materials Monograph). Beside, according to The European Food Safety Authority- EFSA Journal (2008), Camphor does not show mutagenic activity in Salmonella typhimurium strains. It also does not induce chromosome aberrations in vitro with and without metabolic activation and no evidence of reproductive and developmental toxicity was reported after oral administration to rats and rabbits. Therefore, Camphor has been widely used as a fragrance in cosmetics, flavouring food additive, scenting agent in a variety of household products such as soap and detergent.
Rabiu, H., Subasish, M. and Parag, G. (2011). Investigation of in Vitro Anthelmintic activity of Cinnamomum Camphor Leaves. International Journal of Drug Development & Research, Jan-March 2011, 3 (1):301-306
The EFSA Journal (2008) 729, 1-15
Zuccarini, P. (2009). Camphor: risks and benefits of a widely used natural product. J. Appl. Sci. Environ. Manage. Vol. 13(2) 69 - 74
Liebelt, EL; Shannon, MW (1993). Small doses, big problems: a selected review of highly toxic common medications. Ped Emerg Care 9: 292-297
Burrow, A; Eccles, R; Jones, AS (1983). The effects of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol vapour on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation. Acta Otolaryngol 96: 157-161.
Jochen, GW; Theis, MD (1995). Camphorated oil: still endangering the lives of Canadian children. Can Med Ass J 152: 1821-1824.