Camphora. A crystalline volatile substance derived from the Cinnamonum camphora of China and Japan; it is soluble in alcohol. Formula: C10H16O.
CAMPHOR is a slight antiseptic but it has a much wider sphere of therapeutic action than this statement would suggest and than is usually recognized.
It is rapidly absorbed and in large does produces confusion, excitement, and headache. The excitement may pass into delirium, with hallucinations and sudden spasmodic movements ending in convulsions. The first spasms, which are extremely painful, are local, beginning in tetanus-like cramps in the facial muscles, causing the angles of the mouth to be drawn up, involving the masseters and extending to the eyes, abdominal muscles, calves, &c. Deathly coldness accompanies these symptoms.
In mammals the convulsions are of cerebral (cortical) origin. The heart’s action is reduced in frequency and the blood-pressure lowered after a slight rise. Convulsions will cause it to rise, but after the paroxysm it falls to below normal.
Small doses cause a certain degree of temporary surface warmth and flushing, and a feeling of warmth and comfort in the stomach, amounting to burning from the throat to the stomach if the dose be somewhat increased.
The larger doses of camphor are followed by feeble pulse, coldness and collapse; the patient, while still conscious, is very sensitive to cold and cold draughts; he is nervous and agitated and dreads being alone, probably through fear of a convulsion coming on. The collapse shows itself by sunken eyes, cold nose, cold, trembling tongue, pale, sunken or icy cold and livid face. The collapse of camphor is not due to colliquative diarrhoea, as with veratrum, or to the exhaustion of an acute alimentary or respiratory disease. The blood seems to be driven from the periphery to the internal organs.
Head.-Giddiness and staggering occur from camphor poisoning. Accompanying the vertigo is headache, back or front, as if bruised, or as if constricted by a band. This form of pain is worse from stooping and lying down, and by touch, but is relieved by thinking about it-a very unusual feature.
This last unusual modality applies also to some of the surface, muscular and bone pains in different parts of the body. It is a valuable pointer to camphor when present.
Eyes.-The pupils are contracted, the globes turned upwards and they eyes appear sunken in collapse cases; hallucinations come on and photophobia is present, “objects appear too bright”.
The face is Hippocratic or distorted by spasms, showing the teeth, the upper lip being drawn up.
Toothache may be induced,and is made worse by the contact food, even if soft; also by coffee, spirits, &c.; it is relieved by cold water in the mouth (until it becomes warm), and by coitus. This relief by cold is an exception to the general aggravation by cold.
The stomach symptoms are not striking: burning or coldness in the epigastrium with sensitiveness to touch may be present. Though nausea, vomiting and coldness may occur, they are not constant; the nausea is relieved by eructations; cramp and colic are usually worse at night. Constipation may be present,or the bowels may be unaffected. This is remarkable, seeing that camphor has such a great and deserved reputation in cholera, but it is chiefly in its early stages, with collapse before colliquative diarrhoea has set in, that it is of such great value. A saturated spirituous solution should be administered every few minutes, on sugar, to prevent nauseation. Perspiration is said to contra- indicate it. Burning in the oesophagus and epigastrium may be present, though the patient feels extremely cold.
In the respiratory system, dyspnoea, like asthma, worse on movement, is induced, or it may arise from a feeling of constriction or spasm in the larynx. Mucous catarrh develops in the air passages.
Correspondingly camphor has been used for a dry cough in measles and pulmonary congestion; the cough is worse from deep breathing.
Palpitation, worse after a meal, is associated with the constricted feeling, and it is worse from lying on the left side.
The coldness, numbness, weakness and staggering gait, and icy coldness and blueness of the limbs, with muscular cramps of hands, calves and feet, recall similar features in cholera.
Temperature.-The body temperature is reduced, and chilliness, with chattering of the teeth and shivering up the back, have suggested its use when a general “cold” is threatened before coryza or local lesions have developed. Camphor will often ward it off it given quite early. IN febrile states, intermittents, or where, in zymotic diseases, the patient seems very ill through delayed appearances of the eruption, or in septic cases, where a rigor is threatening-if the peculiarity is present of the surface being cold, and the patient, though collapsed and prostrate, is unable to bear to be covered, but throws off his clothing, camphor must be considered (secale). It is an unusual and not easily explained symptom and of considerable value as an indication for the remedy. The symptom may be reserved-the patient desiring to be covered when hot and uncovered when cold.
During the cold stage of fever, with coldness of surface, there may be a feeling of internal burning-possibly explained by a commencing rise of temperature.
Genito-urinary System.-Micturition may be scanty and painful, or it may be involuntary. Camphor also causes haematuria, tenesmus and strangury; and correspondingly it is successfully used to combat these conditions, whether idiopathic or due to poisoning, ex. gr., by cantharis, which it antidotes.
Genital excitement is soon followed by depression of function, leading, in the male, to impotency. IN both sexes orgasms occur; in men, with priapism and nocturnal emissions: in women, with labour-like pains or menorrhagia.
For nervous restlessness, causing sleeplessness, camphor answers better than most of our medicines.
As camphor acts as an antidote to most homoeopathic medicines, especially to the vegetable ones, strong solutions of it should not kept near attenuations of other drugs.
(1) Coldness of surface, with sudden prostration or collapse, and from vomiting or diarrhoea.
(2) Collapse from injury, sunstroke, snake-bite, shock or delayed eruptions in fevers.
(3) Great hypersensitiveness to cold.
(4) Burning of internal parts, with external coldness.
(5) In fevers, liability to throw off coverings of bed, though feeling cold (like secale), or conversely, wants to cover up though hot.
(6) Mental dulness, tending to unconsciousness or delirium; fears being left alone.
(7) The best routine remedy in early cholera.
(8) Aborts a common cold if given in very early stage.
Cold (pains, head-and back-ache); stooping, lying down, touch or contact (headache, &c.); touch of crumb (toothache); movement and exertion-a general modality, and locally of head, neck, fever, asthma: inspiration (cough); lying left side (palpitation); night (many symptoms); coffee and spirits (toothache); open air (general).
Warm air; eructation (nausea); thinking about the pains, including headache; coitus (toothache and neuralgia); cold water-an exception to the general modality, in the case of toothache.