Camphor Essential Oil
Camphor essential oil or Cinnamon Camphora is a powerful oil with a wide range of excellent health benefits. Other names include Laurus camphora, Hon-Sho, and True Camphor. While the essential oil is usually referred to as camphor oil, it is actually only white camphor oil that can be used medicinally.
Brown and yellow camphor oil are not safe for medical purposes. For the purposes of this article when we mention camphor oil, we are referring to white camphor oil.
While this oil has many uses–PLEASE AVOID using on toddlers or pregnant women (see below).
Where does Camphor oil come from?
Camphor essential oil is derived from the camphor trees native to parts of Asia, particularly Japan, China, and Taiwan. These days, the trees are also cultivated in India, Egypt, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The essential oil was originally only extracted from mature trees which are a minimum of 50 years of age. The oil was extracted by steam distillation from various parts of the trees including the root stumps, branches, flowers, and chipped wood.
Nowadays, camphor essential oil is also extracted from the leaves in an effort to preserve the trees. Taiwan is actually the world’s largest producer of white camphor essential oil and other camphor tree products.
Camphor Essential Oil Aroma
The fragrance of camphor oil is strong and some find it pungent while many others enjoy its clean, menthol-like aroma. It blends very well with other essential oils like rosemary, chamomile, cajeput, lavender, sweet basil and eucalyptus oil.
White Camphor Oil Benefits
The main constituents in camphor oil are alcohol, linalool, pinene, camphene, camphor, borneol, safrole, and terpene.
It possesses various health benefits and properties including decongestant, antispasmodic, anesthetic, sedative and anti-inflammatory properties. Camphor oil is used as an ingredient in many decongestant balms and soothing cold rubs like tiger balm and Vicks Vaporub.
What is the use of Camphor oil?
1) Analgesic For Muscle Pain and Spasms
One of the most popular uses of the oil is to relieve pain and stiffness in the muscles. You can massage it into your aching muscles following a heavy workout or a hard day on your feet. Camphor is actually an ingredient in the very popular topical analgesic – Tiger Balm which is widely used to relieve muscle pain and spasms.
Camphor also has excellent antispasmodic properties meaning that it can also help relieve cramps and spasms in the muscles.
Before applying camphor essential oil topically, make sure that you dilute it well with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil.
2) Decongestant For Improved Respiration
The reason that camphor essential oil is included as an ingredient in so many commercial decongestant remedies is that it can help provide immediate respiratory relief. It helps to relieve any blockages in the respiratory system including the nasal tracts, lungs, pharynx, larynx and bronchial tubes.
3) Anesthetic For Rheumatism and Arthritis
Applying camphor essential oil to your painful joints can be a blessing if you are one of the millions of people suffering from rheumatism or arthritis. It has excellent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties which will help relieve the pain and reduce your inflammation. It can also be used for other painful joint complaints like gout.
4) For Minor Wounds and Burns
Camphor essential oil has excellent antiseptic properties and you can apply it to the skin to relieve minor wounds, grazes, bruises and burns. Make sure that you dilute it well before you apply it and avoid applying it to any open wounds.
5) For Pain Relief
Camphor essential oil has soothing and cooling properties and acts as an analgesic when applied to the body. When you apply it to the skin, it confers a cooling effect and helps block the pain nerves in the skin. It can help relieve a variety of different pains such as sinusitis, headaches, and neuralgia.
6) As a Sedative
If you are feeling anxious, worried or cannot sleep, try using camphor essential oil as a natural alternative to the powerful pharmaceutical options that so many people take. It may not be what you need but some people have found that it gives them a sense of calm and well-being and can also help them get a good night’s sleep.
7) As an Insect Repellent
White camphor essential oil has a potent aroma that can help repel all those nasty intruders from your home. Whether you are bothered by flies, mosquitoes, silverfish or carpet beetles, camphor oil may just be able to help. In fact, camphor is used the main ingredient in mothballs designed to keep insect away from your clothing.
You can add camphor oil to a spray bottle of water to make your own effective carpet and clothing protection and to keep unwanted critters at bay.
Camphor boosts circulation by encouraging blood flow. This can help reduce swelling and pain.
How to Use Camphor Essential Oil
Like all essential oils, there are a variety of ways to use your camphor oil. Of course, how you use it will depend very much on the condition that you are trying to treat. Here are some of the most popular ways to use the oil.
1) In a Massage Oil
To help relieve muscle pain or treat joint problems stemming from arthritis and rheumatism, you can apply the oil topically. First of all, you must make sure that you dilute it well with a good base oil. Check for sensitivity by applying a small amount to a discrete area of skin and then massage it into the affected areas of your body.
The cooling sensation and pain relief offered by the oil should offer plenty of relief.
2) Warm Camphor Oil bath
Instead of massaging the oil into your body, you could add 5 or 6 drops to your bathwater for an all over body soak.
For respiratory problems, you can inhale your camphor oil. The easiest way is to rub a few drops into your hands and cup them over your face. Inhale deeply for a few seconds at a time. Alternatively, you can use a diffuser or vaporizer in the home or next to your bed at night.
How can we make Camphor Oil at Home?
The simple answer is that you cannot make camphor essential oil at home. Most of the recipes online use synthetic camphor rather than the real thing. Bear in mind that to produce real camphor essential oil is done by a process of steam distillation.
During the distillation process, the 3 fractions (white, brown and yellow) get separated from each other with only the white being used medicinally.
Precautions when Using Camphor Essential Oil
- Camphor essential oil is a very strong oil and needs to be used with care to avoid any potentially hazardous effects.
- Children should not use camphor oil because of the potential of skin sensitization.
- Toddlers / Young Children should not use camphor oil because of potential for serious side effects including seizures and death. (1) (2)
- Always dilute it with a carrier oil before you apply it topically. Make sure that you do a patch test even after dilution.
- Never apply camphor oil to open wounds.
- Pregnant women should not use camphor essential oil.
- Asthmatics are advised not to use it.
Potential Side effects
- Crude camphor oil extracts like yellow and brown camphor oil are likely toxic to humans. Only the white variety should be used.
- Ingestion of camphor oil is dangerous and may result in poisoning.
- Signs that you are suffering from camphor toxicity include nausea, vomiting and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat.
- Ingesting camphor oil can also result in liver damage and seizures.
This is an oil that is extremely useful but also potentially dangerous for pregnant women and young children especially.