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25 January 2022 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Camphor Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

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

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Zoomed in image of Camphor plant.

Most famously used for pain relief and indigestion, camphor is a therapeutic oil with many applications.

It has a rich history of medical use – in China and India, its vapours were inhaled for their healing effects on the mind and body, and it was used as a fumigant in Europe during the era of the Black Death.

These days, camphor oil is popular in family medicine cabinets as its soothing and relieving effects have a number of applications.

What is Camphor Essential Oil?

Also known as white camphor essential oil, or by the botanical name Cinnamomum Camphora, this oil is extracted from the camphor tree native to the forests of Japan and Taiwan.

Sharp and cleansing, camphor oil has many variations, although white contains the largest amounts of both cineole and monoterpenes - giving it a more distinctive minty quality as well as making it stronger for the benefit of aiding respiratory conditions.

Brown, yellow, and blue variations of the oil are also not considered suitable for therapeutic use, so it is likely the white variety will be the most common you’ll find in aromatherapy.

Camphor essential oil tends to be clear in colour and can occasionally be found as an ingredient in the building blocks of perfumery, as well as in the infamous congestion reliever VapoRub.

What are the benefits of Camphor Essential Oil?

The potent aromas found in camphor oil may not be as famous as those of herbal cousins  and  however its properties certainly speak for themselves – particularly when used against congestion.

Some of the benefits of camphor essential oil include:

  • Ability to ease coughs and other respiratory symptoms
  • Fighting against infections
  • Reducing pain
  • Cleansing skin
  • Healing burns

Camphor tree with blue sky background.

Can camphor essential oil help ease coughs?

Camphor oil has powerful antitussive and expectorant properties.

This means that it is able to help alleviate consistent coughing and reduce congestion in the chest, relieving symptoms of many respiratory conditions. It can also successfully shift mucus blocked in the airways.

A found that camphor oil was effective in treating cough symptoms rapidly in children aged 2-11 and allowed them to sleep much easier.

This cough-relieving effect works because camphor oil has dual warming and cooling effects that allow it to reduce tension and soothe discomfort.

Does camphor oil fight against infections?

Camphor has been shown by a number of studies to have antibacterial effects that make it an effective facial cleanser and allow it to protect the body against bacterial pathogens.

It has also been shown that camphor oil can fight against fungal infections – a found that camphor oil has strong antifungal effects, and it has since been observed that camphor can be an effective ingredient in the treatment of toenail fungus.

It should be noted that camphor oil used for infections shouldn’t be applied undiluted to the skin and should always be used with a carrier oil.

Camphor Tree

Can camphor essential oil reduce pain?

The anti-inflammatory effects of camphor are well documented, and it is for this reason that it has long been a popular home remedy for irritation and swelling.

Coupled with its antispasmodic effects, camphor makes for an effective remedy against sore muscles, and its warming and cooling effects have been known to relieve stiffness in joints.

A found that camphor oil can alleviate back pain, and it has also been discovered that camphor can be effective in treating lymph node inflammation.

While further research is still being conducted, it is suggested that camphor may also be successful in alleviating headaches, with a testing its affect against migraines in mice.

The study concluded that camphor oil not only contributed to a calmer atmosphere and a greater environment for sleep, but furthermore could suppress the pathways signalling pain to the brain, as well as reduce neurogenic inflammation.

Is camphor oil good for the skin?

Camphor’s anti-inflammatory effects can also be applied to skincare.

The components found within the oil can be a useful ingredient for reducing redness and inflammation, as well as combatting the appearance of a number of skin conditions.

Camphor’s antibacterial properties allow it to properly cleanse the skin, and the application of diluted camphor oil to the skin helps to increase skin elastin and collagen production, making skin appear brighter and more youthful.

also pointed to camphor’s potential effects against skin diseases like eczema and atopic dermatitis, noting that it helped in the overall treatment of these conditions in mice.

Camphor leaves and berries

Does camphor essential oil help to heal burns?

A assessing the effects of camphor oil mixed with  concluded that this combination could be extremely beneficial in the treatment of superficial burns.

Tested over 14 years on 2000 hospital patients, those who receive the treatment were said to have had significantly less pain and a higher quality of life overall.

A further study also measured the effect of camphor against second-degree burns when combined with sesame oil and honey.

It was said that the mixture significantly decreased healing time and was found to be more beneficial than Vaseline.  

How to use Camphor Essential Oil

1. Aromatherapy

Enriched with powerful decongesting properties, camphor essential oil is a highly useful tool against respiratory conditions such as coughs and colds.

Try adding a few drops to a bowl of hot water and placing your head just above it with a towel. The combination of steam and oil will help shift the mucus and clear your airways.

Alternatively, you can add some camphor essential oil to a hot bath or sprinkle it into your diffuser throughout the day to relieve some of these unpleasant symptoms.

2. Massage

Camphor oil is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, meaning it can successfully combat pain and discomfort in the muscles and joints.

To relieve some of the tension, try creating a restorative at-home massage using camphor and a carrier oil.

This mixture can also be massaged into the temples if you find yourself suffering from unpleasant headaches.

3. Skincare

The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of camphor essential oil make it a naturally impactful skin cleanser.

Try swapping out your daily cleanser for some diluted camphor oil and feel the elasticity and youthfulness improve in your complexion. Remember to always perform a patch test before using essential oils on the skin.

What is the history of Camphor Essential Oil?

Used for centuries in China and India both for religious and medicinal purposes, the vapours of camphor were believed to be incredibly healing and were largely used for the same purposes as today.

It is said that the west became aware of camphor via Arabian traders, with a Greek governor recording the process of refining camphor that he had obtained from Arabian societies as far back as 150 BC.

By the twelfth century, camphor was known widely in European medicine and was mainly used as a counterirritant against rheumatism and inflamed joints, as well as a purifier throughout the Black Death.

    Camphor is a very versatile home remedy, useful for a number of everyday ailments from bumps and scrapes to colds and coughs.

    Its terpene constituents have a therapeutic effect on the body, and you may find, as they did centuries ago in China and India, that breathing it in also has a therapeutic effect on the mind.

    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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