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Camphor- Camphor is a white to transparent in colol, waxlike solid with an aromatic odor. Camphor is extracted from the wood of the camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), an evergreen tree growing in various parts of Asia. Camphor can also be found in other related trees such as Ocotea usambarensis, and can be synthesized from oil of turpentine. Camphor is employed primarily for its scented quality, and as an ingredient in cooking in certain cultures. Camphor is becoming more popular as a medicinal remedy, and has some notable qualities in this respect.

In "savory meals" and even sweets (popular in Aisa), camphor is added as a flavoring. You can buy camphor in shops that specialize in Asian and exotic foods. Note that camphor is also sold as a preparation to be burnt, as an incense. This preparation of camphor is not for consumption and be dangerous or fatal, if swallowed. Therefore, always read the label when deciding to use camphor for new culinary experiences.

Camphor has quite a few interesting uses. It has antimicrobial functions, and hence, is sometimes used in ointments for small abrasions of the skin. Hey! Perhaps, we can put it deodorants to reduce the bacterial decomposition of sweat! Or even produce a camphor "mouthwash." Since camphor has antimicrobial properties, it was used, and probably is, somewhere in the world, as an embalming fluid. When I used to dissect cadavers, we used formaldehyde. This smelled awful, and I'd much rather have a room full of "camphor-coated" cadavers, any day of the week.

Camphor forms "fumes" that prevent the oxidation of metals, thus preventing rust to a degree. Therefore, you can put camphor in your tool box to make them last longer. You can probably rub camphor all over your jalopy, and not only will it remain rust-free, but, it will be the best smelling car in the neighborhood. Your friends will be very jealous and you can tell them where you read this advice. However, in the event that camphor affects the color of your paint, don't tell them, since I'm giving you fair warning.

Camphor can also be used as a natural insect repellant. Certain insects just don't like the aroma of camphor. You can also use capsaicin for this purpose.

Medicinally, when camphor is rubbed on the skin, it is absorbed and causes a cooling sensation, similar to that of menthol. Camphor also acts as a local anesthetic, sometimes relieving minor aches and pains. Camphor is also included in balms and ointments, which can be applied just under the nostrils and on the chest. In these cases, camphor can function as a cough suppressant, and also soothe the throat and upper respiratory tract, associated with colds, flues, and allergies. Camphor may also be taken orally, but only in small quantities (50 mg) for minor heart symptoms and fatigue. However, it's always wise to seek medical advice before using camphor for these reasons.

"Food for thought"

Camphor can be used for a variety of discomforts. Small amounts can be put on the skin for local minor skin pains, muscle cramps, joint pain, and sunburn. Menthol preparations can be inhaled to relieve the discomfort of stuffy noses, and sore throats. Small amounts of menthol (in preparations designed for this) can be ingested for stomach upset, and bloating. Keep in mind that although is considered by many, as a "natural remedy," menthol is a drug to be taken seriously. Historically, preparations of camphor and menthol were used as the first form of what we now call ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy. ECT is used today in the psychiatric setting to treat depression and other mental conditions. ECT delivers an electrical charge to the brain, causing "fits." In the past, camphor was used in a similar fashion. Although camphor and menthol do not transfer electricity to the brain, in amounts of merely 1-2 grams (the size of approximately 1 sugar cube), convusions can be caused. In essence, even with relatively harmless substances, there are things to be aware of.

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