What Is Camphor? 7 Surprising Benefits & Uses of Camphor Oil

What Is Camphor? 7 Surprising Benefits & Uses of Camphor Oil

7 Surprising Ways You Can Benefit from Camphor Oil

Camphor oil has long been used in herbalism and folk medicine. Traditionally derived from the wood of camphor trees, camphor oil helps relieve pain and inflammation, skin irritation and itching, spots and blackheads, and respiratory congestion. Camphor can also be burned to refresh your home and it’s great at keeping moths away too.


What is Camphor? Is Camphor Natural?

Camphor (cinnamomum camphora) is a terpene (organic compound). It’s extracted from camphor trees and steam-distilled to create camphor oil. However, many modern camphor products contain synthetic camphor oil, derived from turpentine.

Camphor has a breathtakingly strong, woody aroma. It can be found in all sorts of medicinal and herbal remedies, from decongestants to muscle rubs. Camphor oil is readily absorbed by the skin, making it an invaluable topical solution to your aches and pains.


What are the Benefits of Camphor?

Camphor has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s believed to stimulate nerve endings which produces a pain-relieving effect. When it comes to easing nasal congestion, well, just take a whiff and you’ll understand how that works! Folk medicine claims that camphor oil can cleanse the aura and banish bad vibes.


A Word of Caution

Overall, camphor is safe to use – in small doses. Just remember…


  • Never apply camphor oil to broken or damaged skin as this will exacerbate irritation

  • Never ingest camphor oil or take it internally as this can be toxic (yikes)

  • Never use undiluted camphor essential oil on your skin as this will cause irritation

  • Avoid contact with eyes, nostrils and mouth, because *yuck* and potential death

  • Always do a skin patch test before using camphor oil or products containing camphor

Camphor oil benefits and uses

Image by Martine Auvray from Pixabay


What is Camphor Used for?

Below are 7 ways you can benefit from using camphor, whether as an essential oil, topical cream, soap or block.


#1. Tackle Pain and Inflammation

Camphor is said to relieve mild-to-moderate pain and inflammation. It can be found in many topical creams and ointments, often combined with menthol to create a super-tingly, warming/cooling effect. Arthritis sufferers and those with stiff, aching muscles may benefit from slathering on some camphor cream.


#2. Promote Skin Healing

Not only does camphor cleanse away dirt, it also helps prevent the spread of bacteria and promote healing. It soothes itchy, irritated skin, though it’s important not to use it on damaged areas. The easiest and safest way to benefit from camphor is with a natural camphor oil soap. Well, essential oils are messy and who has time to let lotion sink in?


#3. Fight Acne and Excess Oil

Thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial action, camphor can help stop acne in its gunky tracks. Camphor prevents dirt, bacteria and excess oil from building up and causing spots and blackheads to appear. Next time you feel a planet-sized pimple forming, reach for the camphor soap.


#4. Turn Back Time (Sort of)

This one’s still being debated but if you’re looking more bulldog than baby-faced, it may give you hope. Camphor is thought to have anti-aging action, as it increases collagen and elastin production. Could be worth a shot if Cleopatra-style donkey milk baths aren’t your thing.


#5. Clear Your Sinuses and Chest

Camphor is found in certain decongestant ointments; sniff it and you’ll see why! Inhaling camphor helps clear your nose and chest when you’re feeling bunged-up. Camphor blocks are also available which can be placed under your pillow to relieve night-time stuffiness or rubbed on your chest for relief during the day. After all, breathing is kind of important.


#6. Banish Bad Juju

Camphor is widely used in Hindu religious ceremonies and traditional Chinese medicine. Burning camphor is said to rid your home of negative energy while inviting health and prosperity. Revelling in all those positive vibes sounds nice, right? But please don’t set fire to your soap; you need a special camphor block for burning.


#7. Protect Your Clothes Against Moths

The potent aroma of camphor makes it a great bug-repellent. It keeps buzzy, bitey mosquitos away and it’s also the thing that gives mothballs their distinctive smell. With camphor in your wardrobe, hungry moths will be deterred from chowing down on your fancy knitwear.


Et Vous?

If you’ve ever used camphor, did it work? If you haven’t tried it, would you consider camphor soap, cream or essential oil? We’d love your thoughts on this pungent stuff!

Christine Chtistine
26 October 2020  |  20:34

That all sounds very interesting.I would definitely give it a try

Fifi L'Hote
27 October 2020  |  13:08

Merci, Christine, let us know how you get on :)

Maria Canotilho
24 January 2021  |  22:40

Eu quero, gosto, sou médica e conheço há muitos anos