Cinnamomum camphora

Cinnamomum camphora Cinnamomum camphora, which oil do you have?

This plant belongs to the botanical family Lauraceae and the essential oil produced from this plant can be quite different depending on where the plant is grown and what chemotype it has produced.



In his book The Essential Oils Vol. IV, Guenther tells us that:

There are three morphologically identical, but physiologically different varieties of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora Sieb). 1. Hon-Sho, the true camphor tree, occurring chiefly in Formosa and Japan, and yielding an oil which contains 50 and more per cent of camphor. 2.Yu-Sho, the camphor oil tree, occurring chiefly in China, and yielding an oil which contains cineole and terpineol as principle constituents, and only 30 – 40 per cent camphor. 3. Ho-Sho, the fragrant camphor tree, occurring chiefly in Formosa, and yielding an oil which contains linalool as the principle constituent, and only 30 – 40 per cent camphor.

In his book Essential Oil Crops, E.A. Weiss says:

Cinnamomum camphora is native to China, Japan and Taiwan, but has been introduced into many other countries..The various forms of C. camphora can occur in any region, but in some a particular type naturally predominates, the Yo-sho in China, The Hon-sho in Taiwan and Japan; elsewhere the dominant type depended on the introduced parent stock.

He also says:

Essential oil is obtained by steam or hydro-distilling wood or leaves and camphor obtained by pressing or rectifying crude oil. Camphor was initially the most important constituent of essential oil obtained by distilling wood of C. camphora, but with the introduction of synthetic camphor its importance diminished and the residual oil increased in importance. This residual oil is of various types, each having a different major constituent . Wood oil is usually colourless or whitish and contains a solid partly crystalline mass of camphor which is separated by filter-pressing, the residual oil being known as crud camphor oil. This oil yields up to 50% camphor when rectified under vacuum….Leaf oils distilled form the leaves of C. camphora are generally colourless, although Indian oils may be pale yellow and pale green. Japanese and Taiwanese oils differ in the major constituent remaining after removal of camphor.

Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young in 2nd Edition of Essential Oil Safety say that:

Cinnamomum camphora ct camphor contains 42 – 84% of the ketone camphor with a recommended dermal maximum of 0.8%.Cinnamomum camphora ct cineole (Chinese) contains 50% of the Oxide 1,8 Cineole while Cinnamomum camphora ct cineole(Madagascan) contains 56.7 – 63.7% of the Oxide 1,8 Cineole. Their recommended dermal maximum is 11% and they note that there is no restriction required for the Madagascan oil. Cinnamomum camphora ct linalool contains 66.7% – 90% of the alcohol linalool. No contraindications known.

Also belonging to the Lauraceae Family is Rosewood, Aniba roseodora an oil that many are now concerned about. Tisserand and Young show us that Rosewood contains high amounts of the alcohol linalool 82.3 – 90.3%.  Which is why those who are concerned about the sustainability of Rosewood recommend one use  Ho wood or Ho leaf oil instead. Two plants grown in Madagascar, also belonging to the Lauraceae family, and often confused over the years, are Cinnamomum camphora ct. cineole often referred to as Ravintsara, and Ravensara aromatica, whose  major chemical components are 44 – 79% monoterpenes (a-pinene, a-thujene, camphene, B-pinene, sabinene, delta-3 carene, myrcene, a-terpinene, limonene, b-phelladrene. Just some examples of why knowing the chemistry and origin of your essential oils can be important.  Knowing which oil you have allows you to use it in the most effect way producing the best results.