Scientifically Proven Benefits of Camphor Essential Oil: Skin, Pain, and More!

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Camphor essential oil is a colorless or white crystalline substance with a strong, penetrating odor. It is derived from the bark and wood of the camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphora, which is native to Asia.

The health benefits of camphor essential oil may include its potential properties as a stimulant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, decongestant, anesthetic, sedative, and nervous pacifier. It may also act as an antineuralgic, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and insecticide.

What is Camphor Essential Oil?

The essential oil of camphor is obtained during the process of the extraction of camphor from two types of camphor trees. The first one is the Common Camphor tree, bearing the scientific name Cinnamomum camphora, from which the common camphor is obtained. The second variety is the Borneo Camphor tree, which is where Borneo Camphor is derived from; it is scientifically known as Dryobalanops camphora. The camphor oil obtained from both have similar properties, but they differ slightly in aroma and the concentration of various compounds found in them.

The various components of camphor essential oil are alcohol, borneol, pinene, camphene, camphor, terpene, and safrole.

Health Benefits of Camphor Essential Oil

Camphor essential oil has many medicinal properties, which are explained in greater detail below.

May Improve Circulation

Camphor essential oil is an effective stimulant that can help boost the activity of the circulatory system, metabolism, digestion, secretion, and excretion. A study found that camphor induced both cold and warm sensations and improved blood circulation in the skin and muscles. This property helps in giving relief from problems and ailments associated with improper circulation, digestion, sluggish or overactive metabolic rates, obstructed secretions, and a wide variety of uncommon conditions. [1] [2]

May Prevent Skin Infections

Camphor essential oil may be a natural way to fight skin infections. It works by reducing inflammation and preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi. An animal study found that rubbing a natural oil made from cinnamon leaves, called Cinnamomum camphora, on the skin might reduce eczema in mice.

However, never use camphor oil with a concentration higher than 11%, and avoid using it on broken or injured skin. Follow the instructions on the package when using camphor oil. [3] [4]

Camphor is also used in many medical preparations such as ointments and lotions to cure skin diseases, as well as bacterial and fungal infections of the skin. When mixed with bathing water, camphor oil disinfects the whole body externally and also kills lice. [6]

Camphor, gum camphor, formosan camphor, and laurel camphor

Use camphor to relieve pain, irritation, and itching. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Relieve Congestion

The strong penetrating aroma of camphor oil is a powerful decongestant. It can immediately relieve congestion of the bronchi, larynx, pharynx, nasal tracts, and lungs. It is, therefore, used in many decongestant balms and cold rubs. [7]

May Provide Relief From Pain

Muscle aches and pains? Camphor oil has your back (and knees, and shoulders…). A common ingredient in topical analgesics, it effectively tackles pain, stimulates circulation and provides long-term relief from chronic aches. Its unique warming and cooling action works on nerve endings and boosts blood flow to stiff muscles and joints, bringing soothing comfort. [8]

May Reduce Nervous Disorders

It acts as a good anesthetic and is very effective for local anesthesia. It can cause numbness of the sensory nerves in the area of application. It also reduces the severity of nervous disorders and convulsions, epileptic attacks, nervousness, and chronic anxiety. [9]

May Reduce Inflammation

The cooling effect of camphor oil may make it an anti-inflammatory and sedative agent. A study provides evidence that essential oil from Cinnamomum camphora leaves has anti-inflammatory properties, by blocking certain pathways that are involved in inflammation. It may be very helpful in curing nearly all types of inflammation, both internal and external. [10]

It may also relax the body and mind while giving a feeling of peace and freshness. It may prove to be very cooling and refreshing, particularly in the summer. Camphor oil can also be mixed with bathing water to have that extra sensation of coolness in the summer heat.

May Soothe Superficial Burns

A study conducted in a hospital setting revealed the potential of camphor oil combined with coconut oil to significantly improve care for superficial burns. The mixture reduced pain, enhanced patients’ quality of life, and showed minimal side effects. This opens up exciting possibilities for natural burn management. [11]

May Reduce Arthritis Pain

A detoxifier and a stimulant for the circulatory system, camphor oil can excite blood circulation and give relief to arthritis and gout.

An animal study revealed the anti-inflammatory properties of camphor essential oil in a rat arthritis model, showcasing diverse pharmacological activities and mechanisms. [12]

It is also considered antiphlogistic as it reduces the swelling of body parts. This is yet another beneficial effect of proper blood circulation.

May Relax Nerves & Brain

Camphor oil may have a narcotic effect since it temporarily desensitizes the nerves and relaxes the brain. According to animal studies, it can help relieve migraine pain by blocking a pathway that is involved in inflammation and pain signaling. It can also make a person lose control over their limbs if taken in excess since it impacts brain function. The smell of the oil is somewhat addictive. People have been seen to develop strong addictions to repeatedly smelling the oil or consuming it, so be careful. [13]

Other Benefits

It is sometimes used in cases of cardiac failure, in combination with other medicines. It is also beneficial in providing relief from symptoms of hysteria, viral diseases like cough, flu, food poisoning, infections in the reproductive organs, and insect bites. [14]

A 2018 study suggests its ability to stimulate immune cells and combat skin tumors in mice. Another review explores its potential role in preventing or treating serious diseases like Alzheimer’s, emphasizing the need for further research. [15] [16]

Word of Caution: Camphor oil is toxic and can be fatal if ingested in excess. Even 2 grams can be lethal. Ingestion of a slight overdose can still manifest symptoms of poisoning, including extreme thirst, vomiting, and a drop in body temperature. [17]

Blending: Camphor oil blends well with basil, cajuput, chamomile, Melissa, and lavender oil for use in aromatherapy. Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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