Camphor of Borneo

CAMPHOR OF BORNEO/BORNEOL (Dryobalanops aromatica/camphora – Dipterocarpeae)

Dryobalanops camphora is native to the west coast of Sumatra and the north of Borneo, and produces a camphor oil which is known as Camphor of Borneo, Malaysia or Sumatra, or borneol (camphor).
Borneol camphor is the camphor which has been valued for many centuries in medicine. In the Indian Ayurvedic system it is mixed with other plants for eye injuries and infections, headaches and migraines, insect and snake bites, leucorrhoea and vaginitis; and it is considered as a tonic for the kidneys, a diuretic, and is a strong antiseptic. In Chinese medicine, it has been used for over 2,000 years. In Europe it was difficult to obtain, and its price at one time was higher than that of gold. Avicenna was one of the first to mention its use in medicine in the eleventh century.
In France, many researchers have investigated the therapeutic prop¬erties of borneol camphor. Dr Leclerc considered it a cardiac and general tonic, as well as a mild sexual stimulant; he also found it analgesic for rheumatic conditions, and highly antiseptic for many pulmonary infections.


Description: As with the other camphor, the older the tree is, the more oil it will produce. Borneol exudes naturally from the cracks in the tree trunk, although an essential oil can be obtained by distilling twigs and wood fragments. Young trees produce a more liquid camphor, which is pale yellow and does not crystallize easily. This camphor is quite different from the Cinnamomum camphora camphor; it is borneol, an alcohol, which crystallizes in small grains or thin layers and it is white when it solidifies. It is also harder than the other camphor. Borneol is present in many other essential oils, among them aspicgingerlavendermarjoramrosemarysage and thyme. Although primarily smelling characteristically of camphor, the oil also has patchouli and amber notes.
Dangers: I have found it very difficult to obtain a good quality oil on which to absolutely rely. If you think you have found a source of borneol, buy very carefully, as the other camphor is so toxic. Never use borneol camphor if you are taking homoeopathic remedies – it will act against the remedy.


In illness
As it is so difficult to obtain good quality oil I use borneol camphor very rarely, choosing plant essentials containing borneol instead (see above) for treating joint stiffness, inflammations and bursitis (See also stings and bites.)

In Malaysia, camphor of Borneo is included in many analgesic preparations and balms for migraines, headaches and rheumatic pains.

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