Camphor. Cinnamomum camphora.
Imported from Japan, China, Formosa.
Occurrence—A concrete volatile oil (stearopten), obtained from the Camphor Laurel, purified by sublimation, found in tough crystalline masses, white and translucent; easily powdered in alcohol or chloroform.
Physiological Action—In its influence there is something of a diversity of opinion concerning the method of action of this agent. It is certainly a sedative with power to increase the tone and improve the functional activity of the nervous system.
Therapy—It has long been used in hysteria to control the attacks and to relieve the nervous excitement, restlessness, nervous depression, melancholia and hypochondria. In sudden depression from exhaustion and the conditions of depression consequent upon neurasthenia, it serves a good purpose.
In all forms of nervousness in women and in children and in the feeble it has long been in common use. In the excitable mania of exhausting fevers, it serves a useful purpose. It allays nervous excitement and produces a general tranquillity of feeling.
It is a sovereign remedy for acute coryza—"cold in the head," and may be inhaled or taken internally. In acute and chronic catarrh it has a tonic yet soothing effect upon the mucous membranes. It controls hypersecretion and restores normal functional action.
These facts are also true in catarrhal bronchitis, in asthma and in whooping cough. In these spasmodic coughs the antispasmodic influence of the agent is of prime importance.
It is of service when added to cough syrups as a stimulating sedative in the persistent coughs of capillary bronchitis.
It has a marked anaphrodisiac influence, and has been given freely in nymphomania, satyriasis and erotomania. Its influence in controlling sexual excitement is positive. It cures priapism, chordee, and in a general way reduces the power of erection and the sexual appetite. In sexual weakness and in nocturnal emissions accompanied with erotic excitement from over indulgence, with violent erections, it is of much use and may be combined with ergot to equalize the circulation of the organs.
It is a stimulating diaphoretic in fevers, and in inflammatory disorders with inactivity of the sudoriferous glands. This is especially true in exanthematous fevers, and where there is mania in prostrating fevers. Its influence is marked in adynamic fevers where there is feeble, rapid heart action and irritable pulse, with dry skin and muttering delirium, with subsultus tendinum. It has a diffusive stimulating influence in these cases which is of value.
It is combined with opium and ipecac in the well known Diaphoretic Powder, in the proportions of one part each of camphor, opium, and ipecac, with seven parts of the potassium sulphate. The dose is from two to ten grains.
Occurrence—Formed by heating bromine and camphor in a sealed tube on a water bath. The crystalline product is dissolved and recrystallized, first from water, then from alcohol.
Description—Prismatic crystals, colorless, with the odor and taste of camphor, permanent, soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, insoluble in water. Dose, from one-tenth to five grains.
Administration—For children a good preparation is made by taking one part of the crystals and triturating it thoroughly with nine parts of the sugar of milk. Of this one grain may be given every hour to a child of two years.
Physiological Action—The agent has the properties of a stimulating sedative, exalting the nervous functions when depressed, when there is great restlessness, excitability or delirium. It has marked anodyne and hypnotic properties under proper circumstances.
Therapy—It is prescribed in nervous excitement or extreme restlessness accompanying inflammatory disease or protracted fevers. It is specific in nervous irritation from reflex causes.
It is an excellent remedy for children with the long train of symptoms resulting from irritation of the dental nerve.
The indications are diarrhea, nausea, great restlessness, fullness of the circulation of the head, with heat, sleeping with half open eyes, rolling of the head, and tossing, crying but with little sharp cries. These symptoms occur at any time during development of the milk teeth.
In fully developed cases of cholera infantum, with the extreme symptoms of involuntary watery discharges, cold extremities, pinched features, emaciation, apparently uncontrollable vomiting, this agent is given in full doses, and it will often meet alone the whole train of indications.
It is a hypnotic when fever and general distress induce wakefulness.
In delirium tremens it has produced good results, and in mild cases of the delirium of protracted fevers, with restlessness, it will be found of advantage.
It has been used in chorea, and in hysterical manifestations of an excitable character, and in nervous palpitation, and irregular heart action from reflex irritation.
The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.