Camphor

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Camphor is a solid ketone, obtained from the volatile oil of Cinnamomum camphora (L.) Nees et Eber, belonging to family Lauraceae. Synthetic camphor, which is optically inactive, is prepared from turpentine and would probably have completely replaced the natural product.


CAMPHOR

 

 

Synonyms

 

Gum Camphor, Japan Camphor.

 

Biological Source

 

Camphor is a solid ketone, obtained from the volatile oil of Cinnamomum camphora (L.) Nees et Eber, belonging to family Lauraceae. Synthetic camphor, which is optically inactive, is prepared from turpentine and would probably have completely replaced the natural product.

 

Geographical Source

 

The plant is a big tree native to Eastern Asia, It is found widely in Mediterranean region, Sri Lanka, Egypt, South Africa, Java, Sumatra, Brazil, Jamaica, Florida, Formosa, Japan, South China, India, and California. In India, the tree is planted in gardens up to 1,300 m height in the North-west Himalayas. It is successfully cultivated at Dehradun, Saharanpur, Calcutta, Nilgiris, and Mysore.

 

Preparation

 

Old trees possess high concentration of Camphor. The small wood chips are treated with steam. Camphor is sublimed and liquid volatile oil passed away into the receiver. Excess of Camphor is obtained from the volatile oil. Camphor is purified by treating it with lime and charcoal and resublimation into large chambers to form flowers of camphor. The collected Camphor is made into blocks by hydraulic pressure.

 

The specific rotation of natural camphor is +41° to +43°.

 

The synthetic camphor is optically inactive.

 

Characteristics

 

Natural Camphor is colourless translucent mass with crys-talline fracture, rhombohedral crystals from alcohol, cubic crystals by-melting and chilling. Odour is characteristic, and taste is pungent and aromatic which is followed by cold sensation. It evaporates at room temperature and pressure, m.p. 180°, very volatile in steam. At 25°, 1 g dissolves in about 800 ml water (giving a colloidal solution), in 1 ml alcohol, 1 ml ether, 0.5 ml chloroform, 0.4 ml benzene, 0.4 ml acetone, 1.5 ml of turpentine oil, and 0.5 ml glacial acetic acid. Camphor has a peculiar tenacity and cannot be powdered in a mortar unless it is moistened with an organic solvent.

 


                      Cinnamomum camphora


Chemical Constituents

 

Camphor oil contains camphor, cineole, pinene, camphene, phellandrene, limonene, and diterpenes. Camphor is entirely a monoterpenic ketone. Its basic carbon framework is related to bofneol.

 


 

Uses

 

Camphor is used externally as a rubefacient, counterirritant and internally as a stimulant, carminative and antiseptic. It is a topical antipruritic and antiinfective, used as 1–3% in skin medicaments and in cosmetic. It is also used to manufacture some plastics, celluloid, in lacquers, var-nishes, explosives, pyrotechnics, as moth repellent, and in embalming fluids.

 

Allied drugs

 

Borneo camphor, obtained from Dryobalanops aromatica (Dipterocarpaceae), and Ngai camphor, obtained from Blumea balsamifera (Asteraceae), are used in China and Japan. In California levorotatory camphor is produced from species of Artemisia (Asteraceae).

 

Marketed Products

 

It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Ophthacare, Pilex, Rumalaya (Himalaya Drug Company) and Dabur balm (Dabur).

 

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