Top 7 Benefits of Camphor

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Camphor has been used for a variety of ailments for centuries. It is a very common ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine, prized particularly for the benefits of burning and then inhaling the fumes.

What is Camphor?

Camphor is a white, wax-like product that is traditionally made from the bark of the camphor tree, a large evergreen native to Asia and Indonesia. It has a very strong smell, like menthol. In recent times, it has also been commercially manufactured from turpentine oil for use in products like Vicks Vapor Rub. It can be bought in many forms, including as a block of wax, oil, and powder.

Historically, it has been used as a fumigant, as it is very effective for pest and fungus control. Camphor balls, also known as moth balls, are a popular method of protecting clothing and storage areas from moth larvae.

While camphor is taken by some people in very small doses, it has been shown to be poisonous and sometimes fatal in large doses, as it can cause seizures and strokes, especially in young children. It is a natural irritant, and should not be used around the eyes or mouth. It is, however, not carcinogenic. The FDA has approved the use of camphor medically, but only in concentrations of 11% or less.


The most common and familiar benefit of camphor is its use as a topical cooling analgesic. Other benefits include the following:

Skin Care: Applied to the skin as a lotion or in a carrier oil, this herbal remedy cools and numbs the skin, reducing pain and inflammation. It is also found in many skin care products to alleviate itching and irritation. Camphor oil or ointment is also used to treat nail fungus and eczema. For this reason, it is often found in lotions and rubs for sore muscles, because it quickly relieves pain and swelling.

Respiratory Health: It is very commonly found in a cough and cold medication and decongestants, like mentholated chest rubs, as the fragrance can help to induce sleep and break up congestion.

Hair Care: Camphor oil is also used as a topical hair wash to improve hair health. It promotes hair growth by stimulating blood circulation near the scalp, which keeps your hair soft. It is a popular treatment for hair lice and is usually added to bathwater.

Hormone Regulation: It can also be used externally as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. It is believed to stimulate the hormones and therefore boosts libido, however, several studies conducted on rats showed no measurable hormonal change.

Liver Health: Camphor may boost liver dysfunction in patients suffering from liver disease.

Digestive Health: People who suffer from gas and bloating often eat a form of edible camphor called kacha kapoor, made specifically to treat the digestive system and sold primarily in India. It is prescribed for the treatment of diarrhea and gastroenteritis.

Muscle Health: This ointment is used topically to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis. Consumption of this powerful substance is also thought to help in the treatment of nerve disorders, muscle spasms, and epilepsy.

Side Effects 

As with any new herbal or natural remedy, speak with your doctor before adding this to your health regimen.

  • Consumption of this substance should be avoided by women during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as it can penetrate the placenta and cause birth defects.
  • It is not recommended for use on children.
  • In high doses, camphor poisoning can cause seizures and convulsions.
  • High doses of inhaled camphor can also lead to respiratory diseases.
  • Camphor essential oil should never be applied directly to the skin. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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