What is Camphor Oil?
You may have already heard about camphor oil and its many applications. Camphor oil is extracted from the camphor tree. Camphor trees are native to Japan and China, but they can now also be found growing in Southern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Madagascar, Formosa, and the Canary Islands.
A member of the evergreen family, camphor trees can reach a staggering 100 feet, producing colorful red leaves that transform into a rich green shade as they mature. Within the leaves, oval-shaped red berries and yellow flowers can be found.
Camphor oil is extracted from the herb or the bark via steam distillation. Through this process, camphor is produced, a white, crystalline, volatile oil with medicinal properties. A major characteristic of camphor oil is it’s strong, pungent scent.
Benefits of Camphor Oil
Throughout history, camphor has been used as an embalming oil, fragrance, liniment, topical ointment, and cream. Camphor is also commonly found as an active ingredient in such commercial skin products as soap and celluloid.
Today, camphor is commonly used due its wide array of health benefits:
Camphor oil is commonly listed as an active ingredient in cold vapor rubs and decongestant balms. This is due to it’s strong, menthol scent, which helps to remedy stuffy noses and congested chests. Rubbing camphor on the chest is also an effective way to treat and prevent cough.
Camphor’s natural pain relieving qualities make it a common addition to many commercial pain relieving balms and ointments. These balms are commonly used to treat arthritis, cold sores, warts, hemorrhoids, and many skin ailments. Camphor is even approved by the FDA to treat pain associated with warts, cold sores, bug bites, insect stings, minor burns, and hemorrhoids.
When applied topically, camphor provides a cooling sensation on the skin and reduces the sensation of pain. When applied topically, camphor oil can help alleviate pain associated with minor burns.
Camphor is known to reduce inflammation, helping to alleviate the painful symptoms of such inflammatory conditions as arthritis, gout, and rheumatism.
5) Insect Repellent
The pungent aroma of camphor oil repels carpet beetles, moths, and flies. Camphor oil can be combined with other essential oils to make a natural insect repellent.
Some evidence indicates that camphor oil is effective in killing fungus and treating fungal infections.
7) Skin Conditions
Camphor is commonly used to treat and heal irritated and chapped skin. Camphor is a common ingredient in lip balm to heal chapped lips and cold sores. Camphor is also used to soothe itchiness associated with eczema and bug bites. Camphor is FDA-approved to treat irritation and itching.
Camphor boosts circulation by encouraging blood flow. This can help reduce swelling
Some Considerations and Side Effects
Before using camphor, please consider the following:
- Camphor should not be ingested. When consumed, camphor can be toxic. Consuming camphor oil can result in such symptoms as vomiting, a drop in body temperature, and extreme thirst, and burning to the mouth and throat.
- Ingesting camphor may result in liver damage. Those suffering from liver disease should avoid using camphor all together, as it may cause more significant damage.
- Camphor is not recommended for the use of pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and children.
- Camphor oil should not be applied to severe burns or wounds.
- Camphor should not be applied to broken skin, which can enter the body and result in poisoning if the concentration is high enough.
- When applying camphor to the skin or hair, it should be applied in low doses via lotion, balms, or liniment.
- Products containing camphor should not be placed near heat or be microwaved, which can lead to the product exploding and resulting in severe burns.