Besides its religious use, camphor has many medicinal benefits and has a long history of use medicinally in many cultures across the world.
* Colds, cough and congestion: Camphor oil and camphor-based ointment/creams have long been available for topical use to relieve colds, coughs and mucous congestion of the membranes of the head and neck.
* Relieves pain and swelling: Camphor has an analgesic (pain-relieving effect) on joints and muscles throughout the body. It also relieves swelling of tissue. Its oil is best used for this purpose. Menthocam, a more recent camphor-based formula, has been developed in South Africa by a pharmacist.
It contains medical grade menthol, camphor and eucalyptus; and is an exceptionally useful cream for a variety of minor ailments such as recurrent muscle pain, joint pain, chest congestion, and sinus congestion. Menthocam is a useful symptom-relieving substance to have in your medicine cupboard.
* Relief from eczema: Camphor oil or camphor ointment is a useful substance to relieve the itching and discomfort of eczema. Do not use camphor in any form if the eczema is weeping.
* Helps treat nail fungus: Nail fungal infections are best treated by using oral anti-fungal agents prescribed by your GP, but painting nails with camphor oil can help speed up the improvement of the nail cosmetically.
* Alleviates skin rashes: Camphor is a useful remedy for recurring skin rashes to alleviate symptoms.
* Helps induce sleep: A few drops of camphor oil on your pillow case can help induce sleep if you are troubled by insomnia.
* Helps promote hair growth: Camphor oil can help stimulate hair growth. The application should be at least three times per week, where the scalp is massaged with camphor oil, left on overnight and shampooed out the next morning.
* Home remedy for hair lice: Camphor oil is a useful home remedy for treating hair lice. Application into the hair should be done daily for at least a week.
* Cooppan practices in Morningside, Durban, as an integrative medicine, nutritional and natural medicine GP. He can be contacted at 031 309 3036 or log on to www.drcooppan.com