Family • Compositae - Blumea balsamifera (Linn.) DC. - BLUMEA CAMPHOR - Da feng ai

Scientific names

Baccharis sativa Lour.
Blumea balsamifera (Linn.) DC.
Conyza odorata Rumph
Conyza appendiculata Blume
Pulchea balsamifera (L.) Less.
Ai na xiang (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BURMESE: Poung-ma-theing
CHINESE: Da feng ai.
FRENCH: Camphrier
INDONESIAN: Capa, sembung utan
LAO: Phi ma ‘sen
MALAY: Chapor
THAI: Naat yai
VIETNAMESE: C[aa]y t[uwf]bi-

Common names

Alibum (P. Bis.)
Alimon (P. Bis.)
Ayoban (Bis.)
Bukadkad (S. L. Bis.)
Bukodkud (Bis.)
Dalapot (C. Bis.)
Gabuen (Bis.)
Gintin-gintin (Bis.)
Hamlibon (Bis.)
Kaliban (Tagb.)
Kalibura (Tagb.)
Kambibon (Bis.)
Labulan (Sub.)
Lakad-bulan (Bis., Sul.)
Lalakdan (Bis.)
Lakdanbulan (Bis.)
Sambun (Sul.)
Sambong (Tag.)
Sob-sob (Ilk.)`
Subusub (Ilk.)
Subsob (Ilk.)
Sobosob (Ig.)
Takamain (Bag.)
Blumea camphor (Engl.)
Buffalo-ear (Engl.)
Ngai camphor (Engl.)


Sambong is a half woody, strongly aromatic shrub, densely and softly hairy, 1 to 4 meters high. Stems grow up to 2.5 centimeters in diameter. Leaves are simple, alternate, elliptic- to oblong-lanceolate, 7 to 20 centimeters long, toothed at the margins, pointed or blunt at the tip, narrowing to a short petiole which are often auricled or appendaged. Flowering heads are stalked, yellow and numerous, 6 to 7 millimeters long, and borne on branches of a terminal, spreading or pyramidal leafy panicle. Discoid flowers are of two types: peripheral ones tiny, more numerous, with tubular corolla; central flowers few, large with campanulate corolla. Involucral bracts are green, narrow and hairy. Anther cells tailed at base. Fruits are achenes, dry, 1-seeded, 10-ribbed, hairy at top.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Anticancer activities and mechanisms of Blumea balsamifera extract in hepatocellular carcinoma cells./ Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(2):411-24.

(2) Sesquiterpenoids and Plasmin-Inhibitory Flavonoids from Blumea balsamifera / OSAKI Naoto; KOYANO Takashi; KOWITHAYAKORN Thaworn; HAYASHI Masahiko; KOMIYAMA Kanki; ISHIBASHI Masami / Journal of natural products / 2005, vol. 68, no3, pp. 447-449

(3) Antioxidant Properties of Extracts from Medicinal Plants Popularly Used in Taiwan / International Journal of Applied Science and Engineering . 2005. 3, 3: 195-202 /

(4) Camphor / Chest of Books

(5) Superoxide Radical Scavenging Properties of Extracts and Flavonoids Isolated from the Leaves of Blumea balsamifera / N Fazilatun et al / Summary Pharmaceutical Biology • 2005, Vol. 43, No. 1, Pages 15-20

(6) Blumea balsamifera / GLOBinMED

(7) Antimicrobial activity of Blumea balsamifera (Lin.) DC. extracts and essential oil / Sakee U, Maneerat S, Cushnie TP, De-Eknamkul W. / Nat Prod Res. 2011 Nov;25(19):1849-56. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

(8) Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors from Vietnamese Blumea balsamifera L. / Mai Thanh Thi Nguyen*, Nhan Trung Nguyen / Phytotherapy Research / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.3710

(9) Fumigant Compounds from the Essential Oil of Chinese Blumea balsamifera Leaves against the Maize Weevil (Sitophilus zeamais) / Sha Sha Chu,1 Shu Shan Du,2 and Zhi Long Liu / Journal of Chemistry

Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 289874, 7 pages /

(10) Analysis of apigenin in Blumea balsamifera Linn DC. and its inhibitory activity against aldose reductase in rat lens / Dong Gu Lee, So-Youn Mok, Changsun Choi, Eun Ju Cho, Hyun Young Kim, Sanghyun Lee* / Journal of Agricultural Chemistry and Environment, Vol.1, No.1, 28-33, 2012 /

(11) A survey of plants used as repellents against hematophagous insects by the Ayta people of Porac, Pampanga province, Philippines / Jasper John A. Obico* and Elena M. Ragragio / Philippine Science Letters Vol. 7, No. 1, 2014

– Common in open fields, grasslands and waste areas at low and medium altitudes.
– Flowering from February to April.
– Propagation by cuttings and layering.
– Also occurs in China, Hainan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam.

• Volatile oil, 0.1 – 0.4% – l-borneol, 25%, l-camphor, 75%, limonene, saponins, sesquiterpene and limonene, tannins, sesquiterpene alcohol; palmitin; myristic acid.
• Yields flavonoids, terpenes (borneol, limonene, camphor, a-pinene, b-pinene, 3-carene, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, triteroenes, and cryptomeridiol), lactones (blumealactone A, B, C).
– Fractionation of ethylacetate extract of leaves isolated nine flavonoids.
– Main essential oil components are 1,8-cineole (20.98%), borneol (11.99%), β-caryophyllene (10.38%), camphor (8.06%), 4-terpineol (6.49%), α-terpineol (5.91%), and caryophyllene oxide (5.35%).

– Considered anthelmintic, antidiarrheal, antigastralgic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue, expectorant, stomachic, and vulnerary.

Parts utilized
Leaves (fresh or dried) and young roots before flowering.
Mature, healthy, fully expanded leaves are harvested while senescent leaves are discarded. Air-dry until they crumble when crushed with the fingers. Store in amber colored bottles in a cool, dry place.

– Leaves used a flavoring ingredient.

– Leaves as poultice for abscesses.
– Decoction of roots and leaves for fevers, kidney stones, and cystitis.
– Decoction of leaves used to induced diuresis for purpose of treating kidney stones.
– Sitz-bath of boiled leaves, 500 gms to a gallon of water, for rheumatic pains of waist and back.
– Used in upper and lower respiratory tract affections like sinusitis, asthmatic bronchitis, influenza.
– Applied while hot over the sinuses. Used for wounds and cuts.

Sambong4Fresh juice of leaves to wounds and cuts.
– Poultice of leaves applied to the forehead for relief of headaches.
– Tea is used for colds and as an expectorant; likewise, has antispasmodic and antidiarrheal benefits.

Postpartum baths.
– In Vietnam, decoction of fresh leaves used for cough and influenza or as inhalation of vapour from boiling of leaves. Poultices of pounded leaves applied to hemorrhoids; an alcoholic maceration used as liniment for rheumatism.
– 3% ethanol solution used to soothe itching.
– In Thailand, dried leaves are chopped, made into cigarettes and smoked for treating sinusitis.
– For fever, leaves boiled and when lukewarm used as sponge bath.
– Decoction of roots used for fever.
– Decoction of leaves, 50 gms to a pint of boiling water, 4 glasses daily, for stomach pains.
– In SE Asia widely used for various women problems. Postpartum, leaves are used in hot fomentation over the uterus to induce rapid involution. Also used for menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, functional uterine bleeding and leucorrhea.
– Roots used for menorrhagia.
– Decoction of roots and leaves used for rheumatism and arthritis; also used for treatment of post-partum joint pains.
– Poultice of fresh leaves applied to affected joint.
– In Chinese and Thai medicine, leaves used for treatment of septic wounds and other infections.
– A sitz-bath of boiled leaves used in the treatment of lumbago and sciatica.
– In Chinese medicine, used as carminative, stimulant, vermifuge, expectorant, and sudorific.

– Pesticide: Roots and leaves used as natural pesticides against storage pests and leaf hoppers in rice.

• Fever: decoction of roots; boil 2 – 4 handfuls of the leaves. Use the lukewarm decoction as a sponge bath.
• Headaches: apply pounded leaves on the forehead and temples. Hold in place with a clean piece of cloth.
• Gas distention: boil 2 tsp of the chopped leaves in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Drink the decoction while warm. Also used for upset stomach.
• Postpartum, for mothers’ bath after childbirth.
• Boils: Apply pounded leaves as poultice daily.
• Diuretic: Boil 2 tbsp chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes. Take 1/2 of the decoction after every meal, 3 times a day.

Camphor cultivation
• Can be cultivated as a source of camphor. Experiments in China produced 50,000 kilos of leaves per hectare, with a possible borneol yield of 50-200 kilos per hectare. L-borneol is easily oxidized to camphor. source

New applications
As a diuretic and for dissolution of renal stones.
– As a diuretic in hypertension and fluid retention. Also used for dissolution of kidney stones. Some clinical studies, including double blind/placebo randomized studies, have shown encouraging results for Sambong to be both safe and effective in the treatment of kidney stones and hypertension. The National Kidney and Transplant Institute has promoted the use of this herbal medicine for many renal patients to avert or delay the need for dialysis or organ transplantation.
– Being promoted by the Department of Health (DOH) as a diuretic and for dissolution of renal stones. One of a few herbs recently registered with the Bureau of Foods and Drugs as medicines.

Other benefits
– Possible benefits in use patients with elevated cholesterol and as an analgesic for postoperative dental pain.

Study Findings
• Sesquiterpenoids and Plasmin-Inhibitory Flavonoids: Study yielded two new sesquiterpenoid esters 1 and 2. Compound 2 showed to be slightly cytotoxic. Nine known flavonoids were also isolated, two of which showed plasmin-inhibitory activity.
• Anticancer / Hepatoma: Study of methanolic extract of BB suggest a possible therapeutic potential in hepatoma cancer patients.
• Anticancer / Growth Inhibitory Effect / Hepatoma: Study of B balsamifera extract induced growth-inhibitory activity in rat and human hepatocellular carcinoma cells without cytotoxicity. Findings suggest a possible therapeutic role for the B balsamifera methanol extract in treatment of hepatoma cancer patients.
• Urolithiasis / Calcium Stones: Study shows sambong to be a promising chemolytic agent for calcium stones.
• Antispasmodic / Cryptomeridiol: Study isolated cryptomeridio from the dried leaves. Results showed antispasmodic activity from various plant parts.
• Antifungal / Antibacterial: Phytochemical study of leaves yielded icthyothereol acetate, cyptomeridiol, lutein and ß-carotene. Antimicrobial tests showed activity against A niger, T mentagrophytes and C albicans. Results also showed activity against P aeruginosa, S aureus, B subtilis and E coli.
• Dihydroflavonol / Abrogation of TRAIL Resistance in Leukemia Cells: Study shows combined treatment with a dihydroflavonol extracted from Blumea balsamifera exhibited the most striking synergism with TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) and suggests a new strategy for cancer therapy.
• Antibacterial: Study of 12 crude alcoholic and aqueous extracts from 5 medicinal plants, including B balsamifera, showed potential antibacterial effect against S aureus.
• Radical Scavenging: Study of Blumea balsamifera extracts and flavonoids showed the methanol extract exhibiting higher radical scavenging activity than the chloroform extract.
• Leaf Volatile Oil Components: Analysis of leaf essential oil revealed 50 components contributing to 99.07 % of the oil: borneol (33.22%), caryophyllene (8.24%), ledol (7.12%), tetracyclo[6,3,2,0,(2.5).0(1,8) tridecan-9-ol, 4,4-dimethyl (5.18%), with phytol(4.63%), caryophyllene oxide(4.07%), guaiol (3.44%), thujopsene-13 (4.42%), dimethoxy- durene (3.59%) and γ-eudesmol (3.18%).
• Antiplasmodial Activity: Study of roots and stem showed significant antiplasmodial activity.
• Hepatoprotective Activity: Study isolated blumeatin (Blu, 5,3,5′-trihydroxy-7-methoxy-dihydro-flavone and showed hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and thioacetamide. It also shortened the pentobarbital sleeping time in CCl4-intoxicated mice.
• Antimicrobial Activity / Essential Oil: In a study of various extracts and essential oil for antibacterial and antifungal activities, results showed the essential oil to be most potent. The oil showed significant activity against B. cereus, S. aureus and C. albicans; a hexane extract, against E. cloacae and S aureus. Results showed B. balsamifera extracts have activity against various infections and toxin-producing microorganisms.
• Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitory Activity: Study of aerial parts yielded a new dihydroflavonol, (2R,3S)-(−)-4′-O-methyldihydroquercetin, together with seven known compounds. Most of the compounds showed significant concentration-dependent xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity. Compounds 1, 6, and 8 showed more potent inhibitory activity than control allopurinol.
• Urinary Stone Dissolution: Sambong used in-vitro showed dissolution of urinary stones, with a faster activity on uric acid stones. No significant effect was noted with struvite and calcium stones.
• Anti-Tyrosinase / Anti-Cancer Activities: An ethylacetate extract of leaves yielded nine flavonoids. The anti-tyrosinase activity of dihydroflavonols (1,2) and flavonols (5,6,7) were stronger than arbutin. In cytotoxicity evaluation, compounds 2,4 and 9 were active against KB cells. Compound 9 showed strong cytotoxicity against human lung cancer cell lines and moderate toxicity against oral cavity (KB) cancer cell lines.
• Fumigant Compounds / Essential Oil: Essential oil was found to have fumigant toxicity against maize weevils, Sitophilus zeamais. Essential oil components 1,8-Cineole, 4-terpineol, and α-terpineol showed pronounced fumigant toxicity against S. zeamais adults, more toxic than camphor. The crude essential oil also possessed strong fumigant toxicity against S. zeamais adults.
• Apigenin / Aldose Reductase (AR) Inhibitory Agent: Study evaluated fractions of Blumea balsamifera for their ability to inhibit aldose reductase activity in rat lenses. Apigenin, identified from the active EtOAc fraction, exhibited high AR inhibitory activity. Results suggest a useful natural source for a novel AR inhibitory agent against diabetic complications.
• Insect-Repellent Potential: Study evaluated 54 species of plants from 49 genera and 26 families for insect-repellent activity. Blumea balsamifera (UV=0.09) was one of 7 species with insect repellency based on their UVs (useful value). The leaves and stems, dried and burned, is said to drive insects away.

Tablets and extracts in the cybermarket.