Home Herbal Monograph Camphor Tree

It is not known when camphor was first extracted. Though Chinese literature refers only the Camphor from C.Camphora, Sanskrit writers mention two kinds of 'Karpura' the 'Pakva' and 'Apakva'. 'Pakva is from C.camphora and the 'Apakva' from Dryobalanops aromatica. Both are used in Ayurveda. 'Apakva' was used more in medicine than 'Pakva'. Chinese Camphor was exported to Europe. In India, camphor was imported both from China and Japan, but the latter variety is pure and imported more than the former.


It was introduced and cultivated in India as an ornamental and as a source of camphor in south India and also in Dehra Dun, Saharanpur and Calcutta at an elevation of 1,500-2,000 m.

Morphology Description (Habit)

A large, handsome, evergreen tree, native to China and Japan. Leaves are glabrous, sub- coriaceous, ovate-elliptic to elliptic to sub-ovate-elliptic, inflorescence is in axillary, slender, glabrous and many flowered panicles. The fruits are one-seeded berries, globose, slightly fleshy, seated on a shallow, thin cup, turning black when ripe. C. camphora comprises many forms.

Principal Constituents

Camphor is the active constituent of the plant

It has antibacterial and anti-fungal activities1.


Camphor in large doses is toxic. Toxicity symptoms include headache, nausea, excitement, confusion and delirium. Camphor also affects the central nervous system and is toxic to humans. Toxicity symptoms in adults have been noted after use of as little as 2 gram.


Camphor liniment is used for relief of pain in muscular rheumatism. Camphor oil is used externally in rheumatism. Applied externally to the skin, camphor acts as a rubefacient. It is taken internally as a carminative. It has stimulant, antispasmodic, rubefacient and analgesic properties.

  1. Adhikari et. al., J Instn Chem India, 1976, 48, 223; Thind & Suri, Indian Perfum, 1979, 23, 138; Naqvi et. al., Pakist J sci industr Res, 1985, 28, 269.