This section is from the "A Practical Treatise On Materia Medica And Therapeutics" book, by Roberts Bartholow. Also available from Amazon: A Practical Treatise On Materia Medica And Therapeutics
Camphor. Camphre, Fr.; Campher, Ger. A stea-ropten derived from Cinnamomum camphora F. Nees et Ebermaier (Nat. Ord. Lauraceoe), and purified by sublimation.
Camphor-water. Dose, 3 j— oz j.
Camphor-liniment. (Camphor, 200 grm.; cotton-seed oil, 800 grm.)
Soap-liniment. (Soap, camphor, oil of rosemary, alcohol, and water.)
Spirit of camphor. (Camphor, 100 grm.; alcohol to make 1,000 c. c.) Dose, τηv—τηxx.
Monobromated camphor. Dose, grs. ij—grs. x. Colorless, prismatic needles or scales, permanent in the air and unaffected by light, having a mild camphoraceous odor and taste, and a neutral reaction. Almost insoluble in water; freely soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, and fixed oils; slightly soluble in glycerin.
Camphor is found in colorless, translucent, crystalline masses. One part dissolves in about 1,300 parts of water, but it is freely soluble in alcohol, ethers, oils, chloroform, bisulphide of carbon, etc. Its odor is peculiar and characteristic. The formula for camphor is the following: C10H16O. By distillation with chloride of zinc it is converted into cymol, and by oxidizing agents into camphoric and camphretic acids.
The addition of water precipitates camphor from its spirituous solution. Alkaline and earthy salts, for example sulphate of magnesium, separate from its solution the small quantity of camphor contained in aqua camphorse. Coffee, the arterial sedatives, cold, and depressing causes generally, antagonize its physiological action.
Applied to the skin, camphor produces redness, heat, and superficial inflammation, if the contact be sufficiently prolonged; to an open wound its effects are still more severe. Its taste is hot, aromatic, and pungent. In the stomach it causes a sensation of heat, and may excite in large doses inflammation and ulceration. The symptoms common to irritant poisons may, therefore, be produced by camphor. After experimental doses in animals camphor has been detected in the blood of the mesenteric and portal vein, but not in the chyle or urine. In moderate doses (medicinal) it increases the action of the heart, elevates the arterial tension, and promotes cutaneous transpiration; it also produces mental exhilaration, even a gay and lively intoxication, and allays pain. In toxic doses, in addition to the local irritant action on the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane, and the consequent systemic effects, it lowers the pulse, the skin becomes pale, and the surface cold and moist, stupefies, diminishes the reflex functions of the spinal cord, and causes convulsions, insensibility, and death; but these cerebral phenomena are not separable from the reflex effects, on the nervous centers, of the violent gastro-intestinal disturbance. Sometimes dysuria has been caused by camphor, and, in small doses, owing doubtless to the merely stimulant effects on the circulation, it increases the sexual appetite; but, in large doses, it is antaphrodisiac.
Camphor, after absorption, is eliminated chiefly by the skin and bronchial mucous membrane, hence the breath and sweat of those using this substance smell of it strongly; but, when much camphor is taken in the solid form, it escapes with the faeces.
Camphor enters into the composition of many dentifrices.
Camphor is contraindicated in all inflammatory affections of the-gastro-intestinal mucous membrane. In hysterical vomiting a few drops of the spirit (two to five), every half-hour or hour, will often give relief. Camphor is an efficient remedy in summer diarrhoea. It is usually combined with opium: Rx Spirit, camphorae, tinct. opii, āā oz ss. M. Sig.: Ten to thirty drops every two, three, or four hours. Rx Aqua camphorae, oz iij; tinct. lavendulae comp., oz j; tinct. opii, 3 J — 3 ij. M. Sig.: A table spoonful every hour or two. This is an excellent formula, omitting the opium, for flatulence, especially hysterical flatulence and the flatulent colic which so often occurs during the climacteric period. For the preliminary diarrhoea of Asiatic cholera camphor is largely used, and with very obvious benefit. A drop or two of the saturated tincture (Rubini's), or five to ten drops of the spirit, may be given with a little laudanum every half-hour or hour. Oppolzer gave the ethereal tincture with opium: Rx Camphorae, oz j; etheris, oz vij; tinct. opii, oz j. M. Sig.: Twenty to forty drops, as necessary. Camphor, which is very serviceable in the summer diarrhoea of children, may be given to these little subjects in milk, in which it is soluble in the proportion of one drachm to four ounces.
Spirits of camphor, in the form of vapor, is a useful inhalation in the incipiency of acute catarrh. Dr. Beard speaks in very enthusiastic terms of a camphor preparation which be has called "cold powder." This formula is as follows: "Camphor, five parts. Dissolve in ether to the consistence of cream. Then add carbonate of ammonium four parts, opium-powder one part." The dose of this ranges from three to ten grains. Dr. Beard finds this combination of "great value in breaking up colds when taken in time, and in modifying their force when taken late."
Camphor was formerly much used in the treatment of asthma, but at present more efficient remedies have taken its place. The mono-bromide of camphor has proved decidedly beneficial in whooping-cough. Five grains, suspended in mucilage and sirup of tolu, may be given to a child three or four times a day. It is most serviceable in the spasmodic stage, but will do good at any period.
Camphor will allay cough and promote expectoration, hence its utility in chronic bronchitis, in capillary bronchitis when stimulants are needed, and in emphysema. In the so-called typhoid pneumonia camphor is serviceable as a stimulant, in small and frequently-repeated doses, to sustain the powers of life during the period of defervescence.
In typhus and typhoid fevers, and in the exanthemata generally, camphor is used to accomplish two objects—to quiet delirium, subsul-tus, or restlessness, and to overcome the cardiac depression. When very active interference is unnecessary the following can be used: Rx Aqua camphorae, liq. ammoniae acetatis, āā oz ij. M. Sig.: A table-spoonful every two hours.
Attacks of nervousness and hysteria are relieved by camphor-julep, i. e., camphor rubbed up with mucilage. Some cases of delirium tremens are benefited by camphor, but it is impossible to indicate the special condition requiring it. Maniacal excitement, melancholia, and erotomania, have also been relieved by this agent, but a great uncertainty exists as to the indications for its employment. Large doses are necessary in these affections, and they should at first be tentative, for it is not possible in the present state of our knowledge to predict the results of any given trial. On the whole, but little dependence is to be placed on camphor; besides, more certain and effective remedies are now available for the treatment of these maladies.
There appears to be a satisfactory clinical experience as respects the use of camphor to allay sexual excitement. Large doses (from ten to twenty grains) diminish the venereal appetite and the vigor of the erections; hence the use of camphor in priapism, satyriasis, nymphomania, chordee, etc. The following is a formula of Ricord: Rx Camphorae, lactucarii, āā 3 j. M. Ft. pil. no. xxx. Sig.: One or two pills, or more, as necessary. For nocturnal seminal losses, with weakness and relaxation of the genitalia, the following formula is useful: Rx Ergotae ext. (Squibb), Эij; camphorae, 3 j. M. Ft. pil. no. xxx. Sig.: Two at bed-hour. A full dose of camphor will often arrest the strangury produced by blisters.
Considerable testimony has been collected showing the value of camphor as a remedy in senile gangrene, and in hospital gangrene. Five to fifteen grains every four hours may be given in an emulsion, and powdered camphor may be applied freely to the sloughing surface. A clyster of camphor is an effective remedy against ascarides.
Camphor was a favorite remedy with Dewees for dysmenorrhoea. He gave ten grains in a mixture with mucilage and cinnamon-water, and repeated the dose in an hour or two if necessary. For after-pains, camphor (ten grains), in a mixture with a little morphine (one eighth of a grain), is an effective remedy.
A cataplasm of camphor, morphine, and flaxseed, applied to the cheek, will relieve toothache. Camphorated oil is a mild counter-irritant, which is a useful external application for the relief of internal inflammations. The solution of camphor in ether has been applied locally with benefit in erysipelas. Myalgia, tumbago, and neuralgia of superficial nerves, may sometimes be relieved by frictions with camphorated oil or soap-liniment. Powdered camphor, freely sprinkled over the surface, is one of the means resorted to, and sometimes with success, to prevent piitting of the face from variola.
Camphor and chloral triturated together form a clear liquid, which will take up morphine, atropine, and other alkaloids, in large quantity. The solution containing the alkaloids can be mixed with chloroform without precipitation. This constitutes a topical application of great power, which can be utilized in the treatment of pain and inflammation, painted over the part affected by a camel's-hair brush, or by means of absorbent cotton saturated, covered with oil-silk, and kept in position as long as it can be borne. This solution may be given internally also, but, as it is irritating, only in small doses, and after meals.
The formula used by the author is: Equal parts of camphor and chloral; after it is liquefied by trituration, morphine and atropine are added, and then some pure chloroform mixed in drop by drop. Thus: Rx Camphorae, chloral, āā oz ss. Mix, and add morphinae sulph., Эj; atrophiae sulph., gr. v. When dissolved, add slowly, chloroformi, 3 ss.
Authorities referred to:
Beard, Dr. George M. Archives of Electrology, 1874, p. 272.
Fluckiger and Hanbury. Pharmacographia, article Camphora.
Gubler, Dr. Adolphe. Bulletin Général de Thérapeutique, December 30, 1871.
Harley, Dr. John. The Physiological Action of Camphor. The Practitioner, voL ix, p. 210.
Husemann, Dr. Theodor. Handbuch der gesammten Arzneimittellehre, Berlin, 1875, zweiter Band.