12 Surprising Benefits Of Camphor You Didn't Know

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Benefits Of Using Camphor

Use camphor to relieve pain around joints, treat minor wounds and burns, improve blood circulation and digestion, reduce anxiety, and remove toenail fungus. One traditional use is to mix sweet oil with camphor oil and rub it on the chest to clear up chest congestion, cough, and cold. You could also mix camphor with coconut oil to treat an itchy rash or use camphor spirit to treat acne.

Camphor, from the tree cinnamonum camphora, has a white wax-like appearance. It is available in the form of blocks, tablets, oil, and powder. While Western medicine hasn’t yet researched the benefits of camphor significantly, Chinese and Indians have been using camphor for centuries as a remedy to treat ailments and even for religious purposes. In Ayurveda, burning camphor is considered to be healing for the human mind and body – which is why several religious rituals begin with burning it. Camphor is also a common ingredient in several Ayurvedic medicines. Ayurvedic remedies to increase sex drive use camphor as their primary ingredient. It is also used to treat coughs, colds, vomiting, diarrhea, eczema, and gastritis. There are also medicines that use camphor to treat speech problems and psychiatric conditions.1 Here are 12 benefits of camphor that make it a necessary addition to your medicine box.

1. Soothes Itchy Skin

If your skin is acting up and you can’t help but itch, reach out to camphor essential oil. Camphor is known to provide relief for an itchy irritated skin.2 It gets absorbed by the pores and gives your skin a cooling sensation.

How to use it

  • Mix a cup of coconut oil and a teaspoon of crushed camphor. You could apply this mixture on the itchy area 1–2 times a day. Coconut oil is another great source of relief for a stubborn itch.3

2. Clears Acne

Camphor can tighten your pores and revitalize your skin. Camphor also helps to get rid of bacteria buildup (a cause for acne) and acts as an anti-infective agent.4 5 One study pointed out that camphor is especially beneficial to people with oily skin, making it useful for acne treatment. 6

How to use it

  • Make a mix of tea tree oil and camphor essential oil. Take a cotton bud and dip it in the diluted camphor oil. Apply this to the affected skin. Tea tree oil is another known method to reduce acne.7 

    Did you know that the Egyptians used camphor in their mummification process, owing to its antimicrobial property?8

  • Another option is to gently rub camphor lotion on the affected area and sleep on it. Wash it off in the morning with a mild soap and lukewarm water.9
  • Spirits of camphor can be used for spot treatment. All you need is to dab a little on the pimple and it should dry off quickly.10

3. Treats Burns And Wounds

Camphor can help heal minor burns. Not only does it relieve you of the pain and irritation from burns or wounds but a regular application can also lighten scars. This is because camphor oil stimulates nerve endings, which in turn causes a cooling sensation.11

How to use it

  • Mix two cubes of camphor in a cup of coconut oil. Apply the mixture on the affected area. Continue applying it till you see a difference.
  • For an even quicker remedy, dilute camphor with water. Rub it on your skin once a day.

4. Nourishes Hair

Several sources claim camphor can help solve hair loss, treat dandruff, and strengthen your hair. A few experts claim that massaging camphor with coconut oil can help stimulate healthy hair growth. While there’s evidence of traditional use of camphor for hair, we don’t yet know the mechanism in which it helps hair.

5. Reduces Pain

If you are experiencing pain around your joints and muscles, camphor might be an easy option. One study reveals that camphor oil creates a warming sensation, resulting in desensitization of sensory nerves, which relieves you from pain.12

How to use it

  • For cramps, you would need to heat sesame oil and then mix it with crushed camphor. Massage the ointment on your joints.13

6. Cures Coughs And Colds

A stuffy nose? A stubborn cough? You might want to consider using camphor. One of the most popular benefits of camphor is its potential to clear a congested chest and nose. In fact, certain medicated chest and throat rubs for cough and cold also have camphor as an ingredient.14 15 This is because camphor oil has a strong smell that unclogs a congested respiratory tract.

How to use it

  •  Mix equal parts of sweet oil and camphor essential oil and rub it gently on the chest.16

7. Treats Toenail Fungus

Popular anecdotal evidence reveals that people get rid of their toenail fungus just by applying a cough and cold chest rub on their toes. Why does this happen? Because camphor is an active ingredient. Its antibiotic property helps destroy the fungus and lets your toe breathe freely again.17

8. Fights Anxiety

Traditionally used in aromatherapy, camphor is known for its therapeutic properties that fight anxiety and reduce stress. Lavender oil, one of the most popularly used essential oils, contains high amounts of camphor. Reports suggest that lavender oil helps reduce neurological disorders, apart from stabilizing your mood and acting as a sedative. The only time camphor should not be used in aromatherapy is during pregnancy or if you’re affected by epilepsy.18 19

9. Improves Circulation

Camphor, when applied on the skin, increases blood circulation and eliminates the risk of disorders caused by improper blood flow. A study revealed that the application of petroleum jelly, which contained up to 20% camphor, on the skin improved circulation. However, it’s important to note that camphor or camphor oil should not be directly applied to the skin.20 Mix it with coconut oil or any essential oil.

10. Aids Digestion

Ayurveda holds that edible camphor stimulates the secretion of saliva, making sure that food is effectively broken down during chewing. It also aids in peristalsis, the process by which food is pushed down along the digestive tract. The ingestion of camphor also improves the function of digestive juices, which reduce the proteins, carbs, and fat present in food into components that can be absorbed by the body.21

11. Helps With Pregnancy Cramps

While it is unsafe to ingest camphor if you’re pregnant, its topical application can actually help you through pregnancy. Warm camphor oil can be applied on the stomach and abdominal region to reduce the intensity of cramps.22

12. Repels Insects

Mosquitoes bugging you? Burn a camphor tablet in the corner of your room. Studies have proven camphor acts as a natural mosquito repellent.23 It has also been used traditionally to get rid of moths. Camphor crystals are popularly kept in cupboards to repel cockroaches and other tiny insects.

A Note Of Caution

  • Camphor oil is very strong to apply directly on the skin. It could cause skin irritation. You need to mix camphor oil with a carrier oil.
  • Children below 2 years of age shouldn’t use camphor. It is highly toxic to them.
  • For topical application, a camphor concentration of 3–11% is the approved dosage from the FDA. Using camphor beyond the recommended dosage is also toxic. It could act as a skin irritant.
  • The ideal dosage for the oral consumption of camphor is between 125–375 mg a day.

References   [ + ]

1.Hebbar, J.V. Living Easy With Ayurveda. Partridge Publishing, 2015.
2.Staubach, Petra, and Martin Metz. “Magistral formulations and pruritus therapy–What is established, what is confirmed, what is new?.” JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft 11, no. 11 (2013): 1049-1055.
3.Agero, Anna Liza, and V. Verallo‐Rowell. “P15 A randomized double‐blind controlled trial comparing extra‐virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.” Contact Dermatitis 50, no. 3 (2004): 183-183.
4.Soković, Marina, Jasmina Glamočlija, Petar D. Marin, Dejan Brkić, and Leo JLD van Griensven. “Antibacterial effects of the essential oils of commonly consumed medicinal herbs using an in vitro model.” Molecules 15, no. 11 (2010): 7532-7546
5.Camphor: Compound Summary for CID 2537. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
6.Sellar, W., 1992. The Directory of Essential Oils. Daniel, New York, ISBN-13: 9780852072394
7.Enshaieh, Shahla, Abolfazl Jooya, Amir Hossein Siadat, and Fariba Iraji. “The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study.” <i>Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology</i> 73, no. 1 (2007): 22.
8.Wisseman, Sarah. “Preserved for the afterlife.” Nature 413, no. 6858 (2001): 783-784.
9.S. R. Vas, Luis. The Joy of Natural Living. Pustak Mahal, 2001
10.Mars, Brigitte, and Chrystle Fiedler. The Country Almanac of Home Remedies: Time-Tested & Almost Forgotten Wisdom for Treating Hundreds of Common Ailments, Aches & Pains Quickly and Naturally. Fair Winds Press (MA), 2014.
11.Donkin, R.A. Dragon’s Brain Perfume: An Historical Geography of Camphor. Brill, 1999
12.Hamidpour, Rafie, Soheila Hamidpour, Mohsen Hamidpour, and Mina Shahlari. “Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), a traditional remedy with the history of treating several diseases.” International Journal of Case Reports and Images (IJCRI) 4, no. 2 (2013): 86-89.
13.Madhavi, M. Green Remedies. Pustak Mahal, 2001
14.Paul, Ian M., Jessica S. Beiler, Tonya S. King, Edelveis R. Clapp, Julie eirsonallati, and Cheston M. Berlin. “Vapor rub, petrolatum, and no treatment for children with nocturnal cough and cold symptoms.” Pediatrics 126, no. 6 (2010): 1092-1099.
15.Eccles, Ron, Martez Jawad, David L. Ramsey, and J. David Hull. “Efficacy of a Topical Aromatic Rub (Vicks VapoRub®)-Speed of Action of Subjective Nasal Cooling and Relief from Nasal Congestion.” Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases 5, no. 01 (2015): 10.
16.Jefferis, Benjamin Grant; Nichols, James Lawrence; Nichols (Grandma). The Household Guide, Or, Domestic Cyclopedia: a Practical Family Physician, Home Remedies and Home Treatment on All Diseases : an Instructor on Nursing, Housekeeping and Home Adornments. J. L. Nichols, 1905
17.Ramsewak, Russel S., Muraleedharan G. Nair, Manfred Stommel, and Louise Selanders. “In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against ‘toe nail fungus’ pathogens.” Phytotherapy Research 17, no. 4 (2003): 376-379
18.Ali, Babar, Naser Ali Al-Wabel, Saiba Shams, Aftab Ahamad, Shah Alam Khan, and Firoz Anwar. “Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 5, no. 8 (2015): 601-611.[ref] [ref]Koulivand, Peir Hossein, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. “Lavender and the nervous system.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).
19.Complimentary Therapies. Epilepsy Society.
20.Kotaka, Tomohiko, Shoji Kimura, Makoto Kashiwayanagi, and Jun Iwamoto. “Camphor induces cold and warm sensations with increases in skin and muscle blood flow in human.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 37, no. 12 (2014): 1913-1918.
21.Khare, C. P., Chandra Kant Katiyar. The Modern Ayurveda: Milestones Beyond the Classical Age. CRC Press, 2012.
22.Hebbar, J.V. Living Easy With Ayurveda. Partridge Publishing, 2015.
23.Ansari, M. A., and R. K. Razdan. “Relative efficacy of various oils in repelling mosquitoes.” Indian journal of malariology 32, no. 3 (1995): 104-111.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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