Camphor is a ketone found in ho leaf, lavindin, camphor, rosemary, sage, spike lavender, mint, laural, thyme, oregano, pennyroyal, basil, and yarrow.
Many ketones can be toxic internally and topically. Some can be convulsent, toxic to the liver, or neurotoxic in high doses. Do not overuse or use for prolonged periods of time.
Links to Plants Containing Camphor
The listings of research below represent a compilation of scientific articles found on the topic, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. This compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use of any herb listed.
- Sage, cedar, thuja, and hyssop essential oil showed convulsant and neurotoxic activity in mice related to the constituents camphor, thujone, thuja, and pinocamphone. From: Millet, Y., Jouglard, J., Steinmetz, M. D., Tognetti, P., Joanny, P., & Arditti, J. (1981). Toxicity of some essential plant oils. Clinical and experimental study. Clinical toxicology, 18(12), 1485-1498.
- Toxic induced seizures from the following plants was reported: eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, savin, tansy, thuja, turpentine, and wormwood. Ketone constituents including camphor, pinocamphone, thujone, cineole, pulegone, sabinylacetate, and fenchone were mentioned. From: Burkhard, P. R., Burkhardt, K., Haenggeli, C. A., & Landis, T. (1999). Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. Journal of neurology, 246(8), 667-670.
- Camphor, as found in rosemary, showed immunomodulating, anti-cancer, hypo-glycemic, antimicrobial, and antifungal activities in this review of research. From: de Oliveira, J. R., Camargo, S. E. A., & de Oliveira, L. D. (2019). Rosmarinus officinalis L.(rosemary) as therapeutic and prophylactic agent. Journal of Biomedical Science, 26(1), 5.
ANTIMICROBIAL / ANTIBACTERAIL / ANTIFUNGAL / ANTIVIRAL
- Thyme and rosemary were bacteriostatic against Listeria monocytogenes, found in raw and processed foods. Active constituents were thymol and p-cymene in thyme, a-pinene, camphor, eucalyptol in rosemary. From: Giarratana, F., Muscolino, D., Ragonese, C., Beninati, C., Sciarrone, D., Ziino, G., … & Panebianco, A. (2016). Antimicrobial activity of combined thyme and rosemary essential oils against Listeria monocytogens in Italian mortadella packaged in modified atmosphere: Thyme & Rosemary EOs vs L. monocytogenes. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 1-8.
- Thymus fontanessi (thyme), Origanum glandulosum (oregano), Mentha pulegium (pennyroyal), and Lavandula stoechas (lavender) were antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA and MSSA). Carvacrol, thymol, pulegone, fenchone, and camphor were the strongest constituents. From: Bekka-Hadji, F., Bombarda, I., & Touati, A. (2016). Antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus of five essential oils from Algerian medicinal plants (Lamiaceae). Journal of Essential Oil Research, 1-10.
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) essential oil showed activity against eight important postharvest deteriorating fungi with the following constituents being significant: 1,8-cineole, linalool, camphor, α-terpineol, methyl chavicol, and eugenol. From: Barcelos, R. C., Jham, G. N., Dhingra, O. D., Mendonca, F. A., & Valente, V. M. (2013). Identification and Quantification of the Major Fungitoxic Components of the Brazilian Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Essential Oil. Journal of Food Research, 2(5), 124.
- Ocimum basilicum’s camphor and 1,8-cineole showed the lowest cytotoxicities and the best antiviral activities in the virucidal assay. From: Kubiça, T. F., Alves, S. H., Weiblen, R., & Lovato, L. T. (2014). In vitro inhibition of the bovine viral diarrhoea virus by the essential oil of Ocimum basilicum (basil) and monoterpenes. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 45(1), 209-214.
- Citrus aurantium (bergamot), C. limon (lemon), Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile), Mentha piperita (peppermint), M. spicata (spearmint), Ocimum basilicum (basil), Origanum vulgare (oregano), Thymus vulgaris (thyme), and Salvia officinalis (sage) along with their constituents were tested against human pathogenic bacteria. The highest and broadest activity was shown by O. vulgare oil and carvacrol had the highest antibacterial activity among the tested constituents. Other significant constituents included: camphor, 1,8-cineole, linalool, linalyl acetate, limonene, menthol, a-pinene, b-pinene, and thymol. From: Soković, M., Glamočlija, J., Marin, P. D., Brkić, D., & van Griensven, L. J. (2010). Antibacterial effects of the essential oils of commonly consumed medicinal herbs using an in vitro model. Molecules, 15(11), 7532-7546.
- Essential oils can be efficient, and safer repellents for humans and the environment. In this mega analysis on insect repelling essential oils, Cymbopogon (lemongrass) spp., Ocimum (basil) spp. and Eucalyptus (eucalyptus) spp. are the most cited. Key constituents cited include α-pinene, limonene, citronellol, citronellal, camphor and thymol. From: Nerio, L. S., Olivero-Verbel, J., & Stashenko, E. (2010). Repellent activity of essential oils: a review. Bioresource technology, 101(1), 372-378.
- Inhalation of eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol improved airway and breathing of those affected by the common cold. From: Cohen, B. M., & Dressier, W. E. (1982). Acute aromatics inhalation modifies the airways. Effects of the common cold. Respiration, 43(4), 285-293.
- Aromatic vapors of menthol and camphor had an antitussive effect. From: Laude, E. A., Morice, A. H., & Grattan, T. J. (1994). The antitussive effects of menthol, camphor and cineole in conscious guinea-pigs. Pulmonary pharmacology, 7(3), 179-184.
- Camphor, eucalyptus and menthol stimulate cold receptors in the nose to improve airflow. From: Burrow, A., Eccles, R., & Jones, A. S. (1983). The effects of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol vapour on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation. Acta oto-laryngologica, 96(1-2), 157-161.
- In participants with the common cold who inhaled a mixture of aromatic vapors of eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, breathing was improved. From: Cohen, B. M., & Dressier, W. E. (1982). Acute aromatics inhalation modifies the airways. Effects of the common cold. Respiration, 43(4), 285-293.
- Essential oils of sage, rosemary, thyme, juniper, pine, turpentine, and eucalyptus and their constituents of thujone, eucalyptol, camphor, borneol, thymol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bornylacetate, and menthol inhibited bone resorption. From: Mühlbauer, R. C., Lozano, A., Palacio, S., Reinli, A., & Felix, R. (2003). Common herbs, essential oils, and monoterpenes potently modulate bone metabolism. Bone, 32(4), 372-380.
- Essential oils of cilantro, coriander, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, sage, clove, thyme, lemongrass, turmeric, mint, basil, and constituents of linalool, cinnamaldehyde, carvacrol, thymol, terpinene, cymene, alpha/beta pinene, bornyl acetate, camphor, 1,8-cineole, alpha terpeneol, geraniol, perrilaldehyde, and eugenol have demonstrated food preserving potential. From: Burt, S. (2004). Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods—a review. International journal of food microbiology, 94(3), 223-253.
- A topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor reduced symptoms of arthritis in the knee. From: Cohen, M., Wolfe, R., Mai, T., & Lewis, D. (2003). A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial of a topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. The Journal of rheumatology, 30(3), 523-528.
By: Kathy Sadowski