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9 min read / 10 November 2023 / yasmin sharp

10 Benefits and Uses of Camphor Oil

Camphor has played an important part in traditional medicine all over the world.

 

The pain relief and decongestant properties of camphor are well-known, with the oil widely used in folk medicine and aromatherapy to treat various physical and mental conditions.

However, it is believed that camphor oil benefits go far beyond its ability to clear the airways and soothe sore muscles.

Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that camphor can be effective at treating infections, burns, hair growth and even insect bites.

This helps to explain why camphor essential oil can be found in countless household medicine cabinets, offering soothing and relieving effects for people of almost all age groups.

Here we explain more about how the oil can be used, its benefits, history and more.

What is camphor oil?

Camphor oil is extracted from the wood of the camphor tree, which is native to the forests of Taiwan and Japan.

It is also referred to as white camphor essential oil, or by its botanical name Cinnamomum Camphora.

There are brown, yellow and blue variations of the oil, although they are not considered suitable for therapeutic use.

On the other hand, the cineole and monoterpene properties contained in white camphor oil give the oil its minty quality that enables it to offer support for respiratory conditions.

In terms of colour, camphor oil is usually clear and can occasionally be found as an ingredient in the building blocks of perfumery, as well as in the congestion reliever VapoRub.

How does camphor oil work?

Camphor essential oil contains a variety of chemical constituents, such as limonene, 1,8-cineole, camphene, a-pinene and p-cymene.

Limonene is believed to offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and digestive support, which can aid a wide range of conditions.

When applied to the skin, the 1,8-cineole compound has been found to provide expectorant and cough suppressant effects that help to ease breathing difficulties.

The antibacterial qualities of camphor oil can promote the elimination of infectious germs and offer protection against microbes that often enter the body via cuts and scrapes.

Camphor branch

Benefits of camphor oil

The benefits of camphor essential oil mean it could be used to:

1. Provide cough relief

The antitussive and expectorant properties contained in camphor essential oil give people a natural remedy for tacking chest congestion and coughs.

Researchers found some evidence of this in a 2013 study.

After conducting tests involving children aged 2-11 years old, they learned that camphor oil was able to quickly tackle cough symptoms, making it easier for them to sleep at night.

It is believed that the warming and cooling effects of camphor oil are central to producing these cough-relieving effects, which help to reduce tension and soothe discomfort.

2. Protect against infections

Due to its antibacterial properties, camphor oil benefits can extend to offering protection against bacterial pathogens, whilst working as an effective facial cleanser.

A 2005 study also found that camphor oil contained properties that were able to fight against fungal infections.

These antifungal qualities could be used as an effective ingredient in the treatment of toenail fungus.

It should also be noted that due to its high concentration levels, camphor oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil before topical application.

3. Help to reduce pain

Camphor oil has long been used to ease joint stiffness and reduce inflammation, with its qualities also being documented in several scientific studies.

For example, researchers published a paper in 2016 stating that camphor oil was able to alleviate back pain, whilst also noting that it was successful in the treatment of lymph node inflammation.

Elsewhere, it has been suggested that camphor may be able to provide headache relief.

This is according to a 2019 study, which tested its effects against migraines in mice.

The study concluded that camphor oil helped to create a calmer atmosphere and better sleeping environment.

It was also able to suppress the pathways signalling pain to the brain, whilst reducing neurogenic inflammation.

4. Improve skin conditions

The anti-inflammatory components found in camphor oil helps to reduce redness and inflammation, whilst proving effective against an array of skin conditions.

The oil’s antibacterial properties help to cleanse the skin, which increases the elasticity and collagen production.

This means when camphor essential oil is applied to the skin, it can brighten its appearance to make it look youthful and revitalised.

Researchers have also carried out studies into camphor’s potential effects against skin diseases like atopic dermatitis and eczema.

Whilst these tests only involved mice, they noted that camphor was able to effectively treat these conditions.

5. Heal superficial burns

When mixed with coconut carrier oil, camphor oil could prove useful in the treatment of superficial burns.

This was the conclusion of a 2015 study, which involved 2,000 hospital patients across a 14-year period.

The participants who received the treatment were said to have significantly less pain, whilst enjoying a better quality of life overall.

A study published in 2018 attempted to measure the effects of camphor oil, honey and sesame oil mixture against second-degree burns.

Researchers concluded that healing time was significantly decreased and was also found to be more beneficial than Vaseline.

Camphor tree

6. Treat chronic diseases

Another fairly recent addition to the potential benefits of camphor oil includes its ability to help in the treatment of chronic diseases.

This is based on a 2018 study in mice which involved the examination of camphor oil in search of antitumor activity.

In the animal model, researchers found that the oil may be able to stimulate immune cell-dependent regression of skin tumours.

An earlier study published in 2013, indicated that camphor was able to prevent or treat serious life-threatening diseases.

Researchers stated that additional research was needed, as camphor oil could prove useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions.

7. Relieve stress and anxiety

Camphor essential oils scent does have some similarities with eucalyptus oil, in that it has a fresh, woody scent, although it is also rather distinctive.

This makes it a popular household remedy for controlling troubled thoughts, especially when the oil is added to a diffuser or oil burner.

And because no carrier oil is needed for this method, just a few simple drops can help to create a calming, relaxing atmosphere.

Some people also use camphor essential oil as a sleeping aid, a method that has been recommended by natural medicine practitioners for centuries.

8. Reduce hair loss

Although evidence for this claim is anecdotal, it is a widely held belief that camphor essential oil can help to reduce hair loss.

When camphor oil is used as part of a natural hair mask, the oil may be able to improve blood circulation, which is crucial to the growth and maintenance of healthy hair.

Common camphor oil uses for hair often include mixing it with a raw egg before applying to the roots.

Once it has been left to rest for 15-20 minutes, it can be washed out with a shampoo.

Alternatively, you can add a few drops of camphor oil to your shampoo and wash in and out as normal.

9. Calm muscle cramps

According to a study published in 2004, camphor oil can work as an effective muscle relaxer.

Researchers found that the oil contains antispasmodic properties, which could make it useful for tackling stomach cramping and restless leg syndrome.

A 2019 study also published results that showed how effective camphor oil could be as a muscle relaxant in animals.

Once diluted and applied to the affected area, it can help to relieve spasms, muscle cramps and stiffness, whilst reducing smooth muscle contractility.

10. Repel insects

People searching for natural relief from itching and irritation often find that camphor oil benefits their skin.

Whilst more research is needed, this could eventually lead to the oil being recommended as a chemical-free treatment for insect bites.

One of the main side-effects of an insect bite is itchy skin.

When camphor oil is diluted and applied topically, it produces a cooling, soothing effect that can ease the irritation and urge to scratch.

Close up of the branches of a camphor tree and the berries

How to use camphor oil

There are many uses of camphor oil, although you may find it beneficial to try it:

As an aromatherapy treatment

The powerful decongestant benefits of camphor oil can make it an effective tool against respiratory conditions such as coughs and colds.

Dilute the camphor oil with a carrier oil and add to warm bath water before stepping in or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, before covering your head with a towel and leaning over the steam to clear your airways.

As a massage lotion

To treat aching, sore or painful muscles, you can also use camphor essential oil as a massage balm.

If you need to ease muscle or joint discomfort, mix with a carrier oil and gently rub into the skin.

You can also mix camphor essential oil with a carrier oil and rub it into the temples to ease an uncomfortable headache.

History of camphor oil

Traditional medicine practitioners in India and China have a long-held belief that the vapours of camphor oil can be used to treat a variety of minor conditions.

In ancient times, inhalation of the vapours was also common practice, as its therapeutic properties helped to calm and relax the mind.

It is believed that camphor was heavily used and traded in the Middle East, long before the West became aware of the oil’s health potential.

The first European record of camphor dates all the way back to 150 BC and by the 12th century it was heavily used as a counterirritant against rheumatism and inflamed joints, as well as a purifier throughout the Black Death.

Black and white illustration of camphor

Camphor oil FAQs

Can I use camphor essential oil if I’m pregnant?

Pregnant people should avoid using camphor essential oil.

This is because it could potentially cause birth defects, an issue that is true of any products containing camphor.

If you are pregnant and have a condition or ailment that you believe could be treated by camphor oil, it is highly recommended that you look for an alternative.

Is it safe for children to use camphor essential oil?

Children under the age of 2 should not use camphor essential oil or any camphor products.

Even in small doses, the ingestion of camphor oil can also prove fatal to children in this age group.

Studies have found that camphor poisoning can also lead to seizures in children.

Why is brown, yellow and blue camphor oil not safe?

Brown and yellow camphor oil both contain a high amount of safrole.

This element is classed as a poisonous ingredient that can prove to be extremely dangerous, even when used in small amounts.

Blue camphor oil is also considered to be toxic. For this reason, white camphor essential oil is the only safe form of camphor oil you can use.

Product Name

100% Pure Camphor Essential Oil
Botanical Name Cinnamomum Camphora
Scent Type Fresh
Benefits & Uses Fresh, Anti-Inflammatory, Decongestant
Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this camphor essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this camphor essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
Extraction Method Steam Distillation
Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

 


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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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