142. Camphora officinarum, Nees.—The Camphor Laurel.

Botanical name: 

Laurus Camphora, Linn.
Sex. Syst. Enneandria, Monogynia.
(Concretum e ligno sublimatione comparatum, purificatum, L.—Camphor, E. D.)

History.—The ancient Greeks and Romans do not appear to have been acquainted with camphor. C. Bauhin and several subsequent writers state that Aëtius speaks of it; but I have been unable to find any notice of it in his writings; and others [Alston, Lect. on the Mat. Med. vol. ii. p. 406.] have been equally unsuccessful in their search for it. Avicenna [Lib. ii. tract, ii. cap. 134.] and Serapion [De temp, simpl. cccxxxiv.] call it cáfúr; the latter erroneously cites Dioscorides. Symeon Seth, [De aliment. facult.] who lived in the 11th century, describes it, and calls it καφονρα (the name by which it is designated in the Pharmacopoeia Graeca, 1837); and his description is considered, both by Voigtels [Arzneim. Bd. i. S. 83.] and Sprengel [Hist. de la Méd. t. ii. p. 228.], to be the earliest on record.

Botany. Gen. Char.—Flowers hermaphrodite, panicled, naked. Calyx 6-cleft, papery, with a deciduous limb. Fertile stamens 9, in 3 rows; the inner with 2, stalked, compressed glands at the base; anthers 4-celled, the outer turned inwards, the inner outwards. 3 sterile stamens, shaped like the last, placed in a whorl alternating with the stamens of the second row; 3 others stalked, with an ovate, glandular head. Fruit placed on the obconical base of the calyx. Leaves triple-nerved, glandular in the axils of the principal veins. Leaf-buds scaly (Lindley).

Sp. Char.—Leaves triple-nerved, shining above, glandular in the axils of the veins. Panicles axillary and terminal, corymbose, naked.

Flowers smooth on the outside (Nees).

Young branches yellow and smooth. Leaves evergreen, oval, acuminate, attenuate at the base, bright green and shining above, paler beneath. Petioles from 1 to 1½ inches long. Panicles axillary and terminal, corymbose. Flowers small, yellowish-white. Berry round, blackish-red, size of a black currant. Seed solitary.

Every part of the tree, but especially the flower, evinces by its smell and taste that it is strongly impregnated with camphor.

Hab.—China, Japan, and Cochin-China. Introduced into Java from Japan.

Extraction and Description.—Two kinds of unrefined or crude camphor (camphora cruda vel rudis) are known in commerce; one is the produce of Japan, the other of China.

1. Japan Camphor.—This is always brought to Europe by the Dutch, and is, therefore, called Dutch camphor.

Kaempfer [Amoen. Exot. p. 772.] and Thunberg [Fl. Japonica.] have described the method of extracting this kind of camphor in the provinces of Satzuma, and the islands of Gotho in Japan. The roots and wood of the tree, chopped up, are boiled with water in an iron vessel, to which an earthen head, containing straw, is adapted. The camphor sublimes and condenses on the straw.

Japan or Dutch camphor is brought to Europe by way of Batavia. It is imported in tubs (hence it is called tub camphor) covered by matting, and each surrounded by a second tub, secured on the outside by hoops of twisted cane. Each tub contains from 1 cwt. to 1 ¼ cwts. or more. It consists of pinkish grains, which, by their mutual adhesion, form various-sized masses. It differs from the ordinary crude camphor in having larger grains, in being cleaner, and in subliming (usually) at a lower temperature. In consequence of these properties, it generally fetches 10s. per cwt. more. There is not much brought to England, and of that which does come the greater part is re-shipped for the continent.

2. China Camphor; Formosa Camphor.—This is the ordinary crude camphor. The method of obtaining crude camphor in China has been described by the Abbé Grosier, [Hist. Gén. de la Chine, t. xiii. p. 335.] Dentrecolles, [Quoted by Davis.] and Davis [The Chinese, vol. ii. p. 355, 1835.]. The chopped branches are steeped in water, and afterwards boiled, until the camphor begins to adhere to the stick used in stirring. The liquid is then strained, and, by standing, the camphor concretes. Alternate layers of a dry earth, finely powdered, and of this camphor, are then placed in a copper basin, to which another inverted one is luted, and sublimation effected.

This kind of crude camphor is imported from Singapore, Bombay, etc., in square chests lined with lead-foil, and containing from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cwts. It is chiefly produced in the island of Formosa, and is brought by the Chin-Chew junks in very large quantities to Canton, whence foreign markets get supplied. [Reeves, Trans. Med. Bot. Soc. for 1828, p. 26; Guzlaff and Reed, China Opened, vol. ii. p. 84, 1838.] It consists of dirty grayish grains, which are smaller than those of Dutch camphor. Its quality varies; sometimes it is wet and impure, but occasionally it is as fine as the Dutch kind.

Fig. 298. Bombolo. Refinement.—Crude camphor is refined by sublimation. Formerly, this process was carried on only at Venice. Afterwards, it was successfully practised in Holland. [Ferber (Journ. de Pharm. t. i. p. 136, 1815) has described the running process as practised by the Dutch.] The method at present adopted in this metropolis is, as I am informed, as follows [Dossie, in his Elaboratory laid Open, 1758, has described the mode of refining camphor.]: The vessels in which this sublimation is effected are called bomboloes (bombola, Ital. _). They are made of thin flint glass, and weigh about 1 lb. each. Their shape is that of an oblate spheroid, whose shorter or vertical axis is about ten inches, and the longer or horizontal axis about twelve inches. They are furnished with a short neck. [Clemandot (Journ. de Pharm. t. iii. p. 321, 1817) has described and figured another sort of subliming apparatus. 2 ½ lbs. of crude ramphor, mixed with 6 drachms of powdered quick lime, are placed in a flat-bottomed squat bottle, with a short neck, on a sand-bath: the neck of the bottle fits into a conical tin-plate head, into which the camphor is sublimed.] When filled with crude camphor, they are imbedded in the sand-bath, and heated. To the melted camphor lime is added, and heat raised so as to make the liquid boil. The vapour condenses on the upper part of the vessel. As the sublimation proceeds, the height of the sand around the vessel is diminished. In about forty-eight hours the process is usually completed. The vessels are then removed, and their mouths clothed with tow; water is sprinkled over them by watering-pots, by which they are cracked. When quite cold, the cake of camphor (which weighs about eleven pounds) is removed, and trimmed by paring and scraping. In this process the lime retains the impurities and a portion of the camphor; hence, to extract the latter, the lime is submitted to a strong heat in an iron pot with a head to it, and the sublimed product refined by a second sublimation.

Properties.—Refined Camphor (camphora raffinata vel elaborata; camphora, officin.) is met with in the form of large hemispherical or convex-concave cakes, perforated in the middle. It is translucent, has a crystallino granular texture; [A crystal of native camphor in the wood (probably not laurel camphor, but Borneo or dryobalanops camphor) in the collection of Materia Medica at the College of Physicians, appears as a flat octohedron, but its primary form is a right rhombic prism (W. Phillips, in Paris's Pharmacologia).] a strong, peculiar, not disagreeable, aromatic odour, and an aromatic, bitter, afterwards cooling taste. It is solid at ordinary temperatures, soft, and somewhat tough, but may be readily powdered by the addition of a few drops of rectified spirit. It evaporates in the air at ordinary temperatures; but in closed vessels, exposed to light, sublimes and crystallizes on the sides of the bottle. It burns in the air like the volatile oils generally. It fuses at 347° F., and forms a transparent liquid, which boils at 400° F., and in close vessels condenses unchanged. It is lighter than water, its sp. gr. being 0.9867; or, according to some, 0.996. [The density of camphor varies considerably, according to the temperature. At 32°, it is said to be denser than water Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. v. p. 473, 1846).] Small pieces, when thrown on this liquid, are violently agitated, and present a gyratory motion, which ceases directly a drop of oil is let fall on the water. If a cylinder of camphor, of the 1/7th or ⅕th of an inch in diameter, be placed vertically in water, it communicates a to-and-fro movement to this liquid, and, in a few days, becomes cut through at the surface of the water. These phenomena are due to the simultaneous evaporation of the camphor and water, and which is most active where the two bodies are in contact.

Camphor is but very slightly soluble in water; 1000 parts of the latter dissolving only one part of camphor at the ordinary pressure of the atmosphere. But under augmented pressure it becomes more soluble.

Alcohol readily dissolves camphor; but if water be added to the solution, the camphor is precipitated. Ether, bisulphuret of carbon, the oils (both fixed and volatile), and the acids, also dissolve it. The liquid obtained by dissolving camphor in nitric acid is sometimes termed camphor oil: it is a nitrate of camphor, and is decomposed by water, the camphor being precipitated. The camphor absorbs sulphurous and hydrochloric acid gases, with which it unites and forms respectively a sulphite and a hydrochhrate of camphor. Camphor is insoluble in alkaline solutions. The vapour of camphor passed over red-hot lime is converted into naphthaline, and an oily liquid called camphrone.

Composition.—Camphor has the following composition:—

Atoms. Eq. Wt. Per cent. Dumas. Blanchet and Sell.
Carbon 20 120 78.94 78.02 77.96
Hydrogen 16 16 10.53 10.39 10.61
Oxygen 2 16 10.53 11.59 11.43

Camphor 1 152 100.00 100.00 100.00

Dumas has suggested that camphor may be regarded as an oxide of a base (as yet hypothetical) which he calls camphogen, and whose composition is C10H8.

Chemical Characteristics.—In its combustibility, volatility, powerful odour, solubility in alcohol and ether, and almost insolubility in water, camphor agrees with the volatile oils. Being concrete or solid at ordinary temperatures, it obviously belongs to the class of stearoptenes, or solid volatile oils.

It is further distinguished by the remarkable character of its odour, by its not blackening in burning, and by its not being converted into resin by the oxygen of the air or by nitric acid. By repeatedly distilling nitric acid from camphor, the latter is converted into camphoric acid (C20H14O6, 2HO). Before the whole of the camphor has been converted into camphoric acid, there are produced intermediate compounds of camphor and this acid, which we may regard as camphorates of camphor.

The camphor which we have now described may be designated common or laurel camphor, in order to distinguish it from Borneo camphor, or camphor of the Dryobalanops, as well as from artificial camphor (see ante, p. 294).

Common or laurel camphor absorbs hydrochloric acid gas, and forms a transparent, colourless liquid; Borneo camphor, on the contrary, is scarcely acted on by this acid gas. If Borneo camphor be boiled in nitric acid, it is converted into common camphor.

Artificial camphor (see ante, p. 294) usually evolves some hydrochloric acid when volatilized, and burns in the air with a greenish sooty flame: if the flame be blown out, the evolved vapour has a terebinthinate odour. By these characters, artificial camphor may be distinguished from laurel camphor.

Oil of Laurel Camphor.—Pelouze and Fremy state that when the branches of Camphora Officinarum are distilled with water, a mixture of camphor and a liquid essential oil is obtained, which is called oil of camphor.—This oil has a density of 0.910: its composition is C20H16O.

By exposure to oxygen gas, or to the action of nitric acid, it absorbs oxygen and becomes solid camphor, C20H16O2. It is probable, therefore, that its formation precedes that of solid camphor in the camphor tree. I have met with this oil in commerce under the name of oil of camphor. By keeping, it deposits crystals of camphor, and, from this circumstance, may be distinguished from the oil of Borneo camphor (see Dryobalanops). By the action of hydrochloric acid, I find that these crystals liquefy, like common or laurel camphor. A considerable quantity of the oil was purchased some years ago by a London manufacturer of scented soap, who submitted it to distillation, and obtained from 60 lbs. of it, 40 lbs. of colourless liquid oil, and 20 lbs. of crystalline camphor. The oil has been described and analyzed by Dr. Th. Martius. [Berlinisches Jahrbuch für d. Pharmacie, Bd. xl, S. 455, 1838.]

Physiological Effects. α. On Vegetables—Goeppert [Poggendorff, Ann. d. Phys. u. Chem. 1828.] has satisfactorily shown—first, that solutions of camphor act in the same deleterious manner on plants as the volatile oils; secondly, that they destroy the mobility of contractile parts without previously exciting them; thirdly, that they have no influence either on the germination of phanerogamia, or the vegetation of the cellular cryptogamia; and fourthly, that the vapour only is sufficient to destroy fleshy plants and ferns. Miquet [Meyen's Report on the Progress of Vegetable Physiology during the year 1837, p. 139, translated by W. Francis.] has confirmed these results.

β. On Animals generally.—The action of camphor on animals has been the subject of numerous experiments made by Hillefield, [Quoted by Wibmer, Wirk. d. Arzneim. u. Gifte, Bd. iii. S. 215.] Monro, [Essays and Observ. Phys. and Lit. vol. ill. p. 351.] Menghini and Carminati, [Wibmer loco cit.] Viborg, Hertwich, [Ibid.] Orfila, [Toxicol. Gén.] and Scudery. [Wibmer. op. cit.]

Air impregnated with the vapour of camphor proves injurious to insects (the Tineae, which destroy wool, excepted). Sooner or later it causes frequent agitation, followed by languor, insensibility, convulsions, and death (Menghini). To amphibials (frogs) the vapour also proves noxious. It produces preternatural movements, difficult respiration, trembling, and stupor (Carminati). Given to birds and mammals, in sufficient doses, camphor proves poisonous; but the symptoms which it gives rise to do not appear to be uniform. Indeed, there are few remedies whoso action on the animal economy is so variable as that of camphor. Three drachms dissolved in oil and given to a dog, the oesophagus being tied, caused violent convulsions, somewhat analogous to those of epilepsy, followed by insensibility and death (Orfila). When administered in substance, it inflamed the digestive tube, caused ulceration, and, after its absorption, gave rise to convulsions (Ibid.). Given to horses, in doses of two drachms, it excites spasmodic movements, and quickens the pulse, but does not determine any serious result. [Moiroud, Pharm. Vétér.] Tiedemann and Gmelin [Versuche ü. d. Wege auf welchen Subst. aus d. Mag. u. Darmk. ins Blut gelang. S. 24 and 25.] detected the odour of camphor in the blood of the vena portae and of the mesenteric vein of a horse to whom they had given camphor; but they could recognize it neither in the chyle nor in the urine. It is evolved from the system principally by the bronchial surfaces; for the breath of animals to which this substance has been administered has a strong odour of camphor. Moiroud [Op. cit.] observed that the skin of a horse, into whose jugular vein camphor had been injected, smelt of this substance.

"The general sedative effects of camphor on animals are rarely well marked; however, when administered in a proper dose, and in cases really requiring its use, it sometimes causes a diminution in the force and frequency of the pulse, and seems to allay pain" (Moiroud).

Scudery [Quoted by Dr. Christison.] observed that the convulsions caused in animals by camphor were accompanied with a peculiar kind of delirium, which caused them to run up and down without apparent cause. He also found the urinary organs generally affected, and for the most part with strangury.

γ. On Man.—No article of the materia medica has had more contradictory statements made respecting its effects and mode of action than camphor. These, however, have principally referred to its influence over the functions of circulation and calorification; for, with regard to the modifications which it induces in the other functions, scarcely any difference of opinion prevails.

Its local action on the mucous surfaces, the denuded dermis, and ulcers, is that of an acrid. A piece of camphor held in the mouth for half an hour caused the mucous lining of this cavity to become red, hot, swollen, and painful; and it is highly probable that, had the experiment been persevered in, ulceration would have followed. [Trousseau and Pidoux, Traité de Thérap. t. i. p. 43.] The pain and uneasiness which camphor, when swallowed in substance, sometimes produces in the stomach, are likewise imputed to its local action as an acrid. Rubbed on the skin covered with cuticle, Dr. Cullen says that it causes neither redness nor other mark of inflammation; [Mat. Med. vol. ii. p. 298.] but Dr. Clutterbuck [Inquiry into the Seat and Nature of Fever, 2d edit. p. 424.] declares this to be "undoubtedly a mistake." When applied to the denuded dermis, or to ulcers, it produces pain, and appears to act as an irritant. These observations respecting the local action of camphor on man are confirmed by the ascertained effects of this substance on other animals.

Camphor has been charged with producing brittleness of the teeth when it has been used for a considerable time as a dentifrice, [See Lond. Med. Gazette, N. S. vols. iii. and iv. 1849-7; and Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. vi. p. 234, 1846.] but I believe without any valid foundation.

Camphor becomes absorbed, and is thrown out of the system by the bronchial membrane principally, but also by the skin. Trousseau and Pidoux [Op. supra cit. p. 49.] recognized its odour in every case in the pulmonary exhalation, but failed to detect it in the cutaneous perspiration. Cullen, however, says [Op. cit. p. 305.] that "Mr. Lasonne, the father, has observed, as I have done frequently, that camphor, though given very largely, never discovers its smell in the urine, whilst it frequently does in the perspiration and sweat." The non-detection of it in the urine agrees with the observation of Tiedemann and Gmelin with regard to horses, already noticed.

Camphor specifically affects the nervous system.—Regarding the symptoms of this effect, but little difference of opinion prevails. In moderate doses, it exhilarates and acts as an anodyne. [Harrup, On the Anodyne Effects of Camphor, in The London Medical Review, vol. iv. p. 200, Lond. 1800.] Its exhilarating effects are well seen in nervous and hypochondriacal cases (see vol. i. p. 237). In large doses, it causes disorder of the mental faculties, the external senses, and volition; the symptoms being lassitude, giddiness, confusion of ideas and disordered vision, noise in the ears, drowsiness, delirium or stupor, and convulsions. These phenomena, which have been observed in several cases, agree with those noticed in experiments on brutes. In its power of causing stupor, camphor agrees with opium; but it differs from the latter in ite more frequently causing delirium and convulsions. Epilepsy has been ascribed to the use of camphor.

The quality of the influence which camphor exercises over the vascular system has been a subject of much contention. From my own limited observations of its use in small or medium doses (from five to ten grains), I am disposed to regard its leading effect as that of a vascular excitant, though I am not prepared to deny that slight depression may not have preceded this effect. Combined with diaphoretic regimen (warm clothing and tepid diluents), I have seen camphor increase the fulness of the pulse, raise the temperature of the surface, and operate as a sudorific. If opium be conjoined, these effects are more manifest. [See p. 427. for some remarks on the comparative operation of ammonia and camphor.]

In excessive doses, it acts as a powerful poison. The best related case is that of Mr. Alexander, [Experimental Essays, p. 128, 1768.] who swallowed two scruples in syrup of roses. In about twenty minutes, he experienced lassitude and depression of spirits, with frequent yawnings: at the end of three-quarters of an hour his pulse had fallen from 77 to 67. Soon after he felt giddy, confused, and almost incapable of walking across the room. He became gradually insensible, and in this condition was attacked with violent convulsions and maniacal delirium. From this state he awoke as from a profound sleep; his pulse was 100, and he was able to reply to interrogatories, though he had not completely recovered his recollection. Warm water being administered, he vomited up the greater part of the camphor, which had been swallowed three hours previously; and from this time he gradually recovered.

In another case, [Lond. Med Gaz. vol. v. p. 635, from Rust's Magazin.] a man swallowed four ounces of camphorated spirits containing 160 grains of camphor. The symptoms were burning heat of skin, frequent, full, and hard pulse, brilliancy of the eyes, redness of the face, heaviness of the head, anxiety, agitation, violent sense of heat in the stomach; then intense headache, giddiness, indistinctness of sight, and ocular hallucinations. The patient complained of heat only, which he said was intolerable. In the night, copious sweating came on, followed by sleep. The pulse continued full and frequent, and the voiding of urine difficult.

In some other well-reported cases, camphor, in large doses, caused depression of the vascular system. In the instance related by Fred. Hoffmann, [Op. omnia, t. iv. p. 26, Geneva, 1748.] Pouteau, [Murray, App. Med. vol. iv.] Griffin, [Quoted by Alexander.] Cullen, [Mat. Med. vol. ii. p. 195.] Callisen, [Murray. App. Med.] Edwards, [Orfila, Tox. Gén.] and Trousseau and Pidoux, [Traité de Thérap. t. i. p. 48.] sedation of the vascular system was observed. It was manifested by a languid, small, and slower pulse, coldness of the surface, and pallid countenance; in some cases with cold sweat. In some of these instances, symptoms of vascular excitement followed those of depression. The pulse became more frequent and fuller than natural, and the heat of the surface augmented. Trousseau and Pidoux [Op. cit. p. 51.] ascribe the symptoms of sedation to the depressing influence which camphor exerts over the system by sympathy; while the sanguineous excitation they refer to the passage of camphor into the blood, and the efforts of the organism to eliminate this unassimilable principle. But in some of the cases in which excessive doses of camphor have been taken, no symptoms of depression were manifested; as in the instance mentioned by Dr. Eickhorn (in whom great heat, rapid but small pulse, copious sweating, and agreeable exhilaration, were produced by 120 grains), [Lond. Med. Gaz. vul. xi. p. 772.] by Dr. Wendt, [Quoted in Dr. Christison's Treatise on Poisons, p. 810.] by Scudery, [Wibmer. op. supra cit.] and by Bergondi. [Ibid.]

Camphor has long been celebrated as an anaphrodisiac; the smell of it even is said to be attended with this effect; hence the verse of the School of Salernum—"Camphora per nares castrat odore mares". Trousseau and Pidoux [Op. cit. p. 48.] experienced the anapbrodisiac property of 30 grains of camphor taken into the stomach.

Strangury has also been ascribed to this substance by Heberden, [Comment, art. Stranguria.] by Scudery, [Supra cit.] and others.

Uses.—The discrepancy among authors as to the physiological effects of camphor has had the effect of greatly circumscribing the use of this substance. Indeed, until its operation on the system be more satisfactorily ascertained, it is almost impossible to lay down general rules which should govern its exhibition. The following are the principal maladies in which it has been found useful:—

1. Fever.—Camphor has been employed in those forms of fever which are of a typhoid type. It is chiefly valuable by causing determination to the surface, and giving rise to diaphoresis. Hence those remedies should be conjoined with it which promote these effects: such are ipecacuanha, emetic tartar, and the vegetable alkaline salts. Opium greatly contributes to the sudorific effects of camphor; and, when it is admissible, benefit is sometimes obtained by the administration of one grain of opium with five or eight of camphor. But in a great number of cases of fever, the cerebral disorder forbids the use of opium. From its specific influence over the cerebral functions, camphor has been frequently used in fever to allay the nervous symptoms—such as the delirium, the watchings, the subsultus tendinum, etc.; but it frequently fails to give relief. Dr. Home [Clin. Hist. p. 36.] did not find any advantage from its use in the low nervous fever; and Dr. Heberden [Comment. art. Febris.] has seen one scruple of camphor given every six hours, without any perceptible effect in abating the convulsive catchings, or composing the patient to rest.

2. In inflammatory diseases.—In the latter stages of inflammation of internal important parts (as the serous and mucous membranes, the stomach, intestines, uterus, &c.), after proper evacuations had been made in the earlier periods of the disease, when great exhaustion is manifested by a small feeble pulse and a cold flaccid skin, small but repeated doses of camphor have been employed to determine to the skin, and to promote diaphoresis. It is particularly serviceable in rheumatic inflammation, and especially when produced by metastasis. [Sundelin, Handb. d. spec. Heilmittell. Bd. ii. S. 145.]

3. In the exanthemata.—Camphor has been employed in smallpox, as also in measles, scarlatina, and miliary fever: but it is admissible only when the circulation flags, and the temperature of the surface falls below the natural standard. In such cases it is sometimes employed along with a diaphoretic regimen to determine to the skin. It is to be carefully avoided when inflammation of the brain or its membranes is feared. It has been asserted that if a camphorated ointment be applied to the face, no smallpox pustules will make their appearance there; but the statement is not correct.

4. In mania, melancholia, and other forms of mental disorder.—Camphor is occasionally taken to cause exhilaration. I am acquainted with two persons (females), both of nervous temperament, who use it for this purpose. To relieve despondency I have often found it serviceable. In mania and melancholia, it has now and then proved serviceable by its narcotic effects: it induces mental quiet, and causes sleep. It was used in these affections by Paracelsus and several succeeding writers, [Murray, App. Med. vol. iv. p. 499.] especially, in more modern times, by Dr. Kinneir; [Phil. Trans. vol. xxxv.] and by Avenbrugger. [Experim. de remed. specif, in mania virorum, Vind. 1776.] The latter regards it as a specific in the mania of men, when accompanied with a small contracted penis, corrugated empty scrotum, or when both testicles are so retracted that they appear to be introduced into the abdominal cavity.

5. In spasmodic affections.—The narcotic influence of camphor has occasionally proved serviceable in some spasmodic or convulsive affections; viz., spasmodic cough, epilepsy, puerperal convulsions, hysteria, and even tetanus: its use, however, requires caution.

6. In irritation of the urinary or sexual organs.—A power of diminishing irritation of the urinary organs has long been assigned to camphor. In strangury and dysury, especially when produced by cantharides, it is said to have been used with benefit—a statement apparently inconsistent with that more recently made of its producing irritation of the urinary organs. In satyriasis, nymphomania, and onanism, it is said to have proved advantageous by its anaphrodisiac properties. In dysmenorrhoea, it sometimes proves serviceable as an anodyne.

7. In poisoning.—Small doses of camphor (administered by the mouth or by the rectum) have been exhibited with apparent benefit in cases of poisoning by opium. [Orfila, Toxicol. Gén.] It has also been employed to mitigate the effects of cantharides, squills, and mezereon; [Hahnemann, and Van Bavegem, in Marx's Die Lehre v. d. Giften, Bd. ii. S. 202 and 358.] but toxicologists, for the most part, do not admit its efficacy: at any rate, further evidence is required to establish it. Nor does there appear any valid testimony for believing that camphor possesses the power of checking mercurial salivation, as some have supposed.

8. In chronic rheumatism and gout.—A mixture of camphor and opium, in the proportions before mentioned, is useful in chronic rheumatism, by its sudorific and anodyne properties. Warm clothing and diluents should be conjoined. In chronic gout, also, camphor is said to have proved beneficial.

9. In cholera.—The combination of camphor and opium above, referred to, I have seen used with benefit in cholera.

10. Externally, camphor is employed in the form of vapour, in solution, or, more rarely, in the solid state. The vapour is occasionally inhaled in spasmodic cough; and is applied to the skin to alleviate pain and promote sweat, constituting the camphor fumigations (fumigationes camphorae). Dupasquier [Revue Méd. t. ii. p. 218, 1826.] recommended these fumigations in chronic rheumatism. The patient may be in bed or seated in a chair; and, in either case, is to be enveloped by a blanket tied round the neck. About half an ounce of camphor is then to be placed on a metallic plate, and introduced within the blanket (under the chair, if the patient be seated). In solution, camphor is used either as an anodyne or a local stimulant. The nitric solution of camphor is used to relieve toothache. A solution of camphor in oil has been used as an injection into the urethra, to relieve ardor urinae in gonorrhoea, and into the rectum to mitigate tenesmus arising from ascarides or dysentery. The acetic and alcoholic solutions of camphor are mostly employed as stimulants. In substance, camphor is not frequently used. A scruple or half a drachm "added to a poultice, and applied to the perineum, allays the chordee, which is a painful attendant upon gonorrhoea." [United States Dispensatory.] Powdered camphor is a constituent of some tooth-powders, to which it communicates its peculiar odour.

The foregoing are some only of the maladies in which camphor has been extensively used and lauded. I must refer to the works of Murray [App. Med. vol. iv.] for various other uses which have been made of this substance. It is scarcely necessary to add that camphor-bags possess no prophylactic properties against contagion.

Administration.—The medium dose of it is from five to ten grains; but it is frequently exhibited in much smaller doses (as one grain); and occasionally a scruple has been employed. It is given in the form of a pill or emulsion. That of pill is said to be objectionable, "as in this state the camphor is with difficulty dissolved in the gastric liquors, and, floating on the top, is apt to excite nausea, or pain or uneasiness at the upper orifice of the stomach." [United States Dispensatory.] It has been charged with causing ulceration of the stomach when given in the solid form. The emulsion is made by rubbing up the camphor with loaf sugar, gum Arabic, and water; and the suspension will be rendered more complete by the addition of a little myrrh. [Ibid.]

Antidote.—In a case of poisoning by camphor, first evacuate the contents of the stomach. Hufeland [Marx, Die Lehre von d. Gift. Bd. ii. S. 202.] recommends the use of opium to relieve the effects of camphor. Phoebus [Handb. d. Arzneiverord. 2te Ausg.]directs chlorine water to be administered as the antidote, and afterwards purgatives and clysters. Vinegar and coffee, he states, promote the poisonous operation. Wine assists the patient's recovery.

1. MISTURA CAMOPHORAE, L. E. D.; Aqua Camphorae [U. S.]; Camphor Mixture; Camphor Water.—(Camphor ʒss; Rectified Spirit ♏x; Distilled Water Oj. First rub the camphor with the spirit, then with the water gradually poured in, and strain through linen, L.—The Dublin College orders of Tincture of Camphor f℥j; Water Oiij. Shake the tincture and water together in a bottle, and, after the mixture has stood for twenty-four hours, filter through paper. The Edinburgh College employs Camphor ℈j; Sweet Almonds and Pure Sugar, of each ℥ss; Water Oj. Steep the almonds in hot water, and peel them; rub the camphor and sugar well together in a mortar; add the almonds; beat the whole into a smooth pulp; add the water gradually, with constant stirring, and then strain, E)—The camphor mixture kept in the shops is often prepared by suspending camphor in water without the intervention of any third body. The quantity of this substance dissolved is exceedingly small. The rectified spirit employed by the London and Dublin Colleges serves to promote the pulverization, and, very slightly, perhaps, the solution of the camphor. Sugar also assists its diffusion through water. The preparation of the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia is, in fact, an emulsion.—[The Aqua Camphorae of the U. S. Pharm, is thus prepared: Camphor two drachms; Alcohol forty minims; Carbonate of Magnesia a drachm; Distilled Water two pints. Rub the camphor first with the alcohol, afterwards with the carbonate of magnesia, and lastly with the water gradually added; then filter through paper.]—None of these artificial mixtures, however, are very permanent, and the quantity of camphor which remains in solution is so small that the liquid can scarcely be said to possess more than the flavour and odour of camphor. Hence its principal value is as a vehicle for the exhibition of other medicines. Its usual dose is from f℥j to f℥ij.

2. MISTURA CAMPHORAE CUM MAGNESIÂ, E.; Camphor Mixture with Magnesia.—(Camphor gr. x; Carbonate of Magnesia gr. xxv; Water f℥vj. Triturate the camphor and carbonate of magnesia together, adding the water gradually.)—The carbonate of magnesia promotes the solution of the camphor in water. This mixture, therefore, holds a larger quantity of camphor in solution than the previous one. A minute portion of magnesia is also dissolved. As the magnesian carbonate is not separated by filtration, it gives to the mixture antacid properties, in addition to those qualities which this preparation derives from the camphor. "In addition to the uses of the simple camphor mixture, this preparation has been found very beneficial in the uric acid diathesis, and also in irritations of the neck of the urinary bladder, particularly when given in combination with hyoscyamus." [Dr. Montgomery, Observ. on the Dubl. Pharm.] The dose is from f℥ss to f℥j.

Murray's Fluid Camphor.—This is a solution of camphor in fluid magnesia (see vol. i. p. 592). Each ounce contains three grains of camphor and six grains of bicarbonate of magnesia. Its sp. gr. is 1.0026. [Lancet, 1847, vol. ii. p. 553; Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. vii. p. 367, 1848.]

3. SPIRITUS CAMPHORAE, L.; Tinctura Camphorae, E. D. [U. S.]; Spiritus Camphoratus; Spirit of Camphor; Camphorated Spirits of Wine, offic.—(Camphor ℥v [℥iv, U. S.], [℥j, in small fragments, D.; ℥ijss, E.]; Rectified Spirit Oij [Alcohol Oij, U. S.], [f℥viij, D.]. Dissolve.)—The principal use of this preparation is as a stimulant and anodyne liniment in sprains and bruises, chilblains, chronic rheumatism, and paralysis. Water immediately decomposes it, separating the greater part of the camphor, but holding in solution a minute portion; thereby forming an extemporaneous camphor mixture. By the aid of sugar or mucilage, the greater part of the camphor may be suspended in water. Employed in this form, we may give tincture of camphor internally, in doses of from ♏x to fʒJ.

"Spiritus camphore is miscible with liquor plumbi diacetatis in the proportion of two parts of the former to one of the latter, and in this form it is a convenient preparation, sometimes ordered as a concentrated lotion, to which water is to be added by the patient. But if a larger proportion of liquor plumbi be added, the camphor is partially precipitated." [Mr. Jacob Bell, Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. iv. p. 313, 1844.]

4. TINCTURA CAMPHORAE COMPOSITA, L.; Compound Tincture of Opium; Tinctura Opii camphorata, E. D. [U. S.]; Elixir Paregoricum; Paregoric Elixir, offic.—(Camphor ℈ijss [ʒj, D.]; Opium, powdered [sliced, E.], gr. lxxij [ʒiss, D., ℈iv, E.]; Benzoic Acid gr. lxxij [℈iv, E., ʒiss, D.]; Oil of Anise fʒj; Proof Spirit Oij. Macerate for seven days, and filter.)—This is a very valuable preparation, and is extensively employed both by the public and the profession. Its active ingredient is opium. The principal use of it is to allay troublesome cough unconnected with any active inflammatory symptoms. It diminishes the sensibility of the bronchial membrane to the influence of cold air, checks profuse secretion, and allays spasmodic cough. Dose, fʒj to fʒiij. A fluidounce contains nearly two grains of opium. The name given to this preparation by the London College, though less correct than that of the Edinburgh and Dublin Colleges, is, I conceive, much more convenient, since it enables us to prescribe opium without the knowledge of the patient—no mean advantage in cases where a strong prejudice exists in the mind of the patient or his friends to the use of this important narcotic. Furthermore, it is less likely to give rise to serious and fatal errors in dispensing. In a case mentioned by Dr. . Good, [Hist. of Méd. 1795, App. p. 14.] laudanum was served, by an ignorant dispenser, for tinct. opii camph. The error proved fatal to the patient. [For the formula of the U. S. Pharm., see Preparations of Opium.]

5. LINIMENTUM CAMPHORAE, L. E.; Oleum Camphoratum, D.; Camphor Liniment, offic.—(Camphor ℥j [ʒj, D.]; Olive Oil f℥iv [℥j, D.]. Shake them together until they are mixed, L. Rub them together [in a mortar, E.] until the camphor is dissolved, E. D.)—A stimulant and anodyne embrocation in sprains, bruises, and rheumatic and other local pains. In glandular enlargements, it is used as a resolvent.

6. LINIMENTUM CAMPHORAE COMPOSITUM, L. D.; Compound Liniment of Camphor.—(Camphor ℥ijss [℥v, D.]; Oil of Lavender fʒj [fʒij D.]; Rectified Spirit f℥vij [Oiss, D.]; Stronger Solution of Ammonia f℥iij [Oss, D.]. Dissolve the camphor and oil in the spirit; then add the ammonia, and mix with agitation.)—A powerful stimulant and rubefacient, producing, when freely used, considerable irritation and inflammation. It is applicable in the same cases as the simple camphor liniment and the liniment of ammonia (vol. i. p. 433). From both of these compounds it differs in not being greasy. "I have used," says Dr. Montgomery, [Op. supra cit.] "a liniment composed of two parts of this and one of turpentine, with children, as a substitute for a blister, and with good effect; or, with equal parts of the anodyne liniment, I have found it highly beneficial in the removal of those distressing pains in the back which so frequently annoy women about the close of their pregnancy."


The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1854.