Camphor oil is aromatic oil obtained through steam distillation from the root bark, wood and branches of the camphor tree. Camphor trees are also known as cinnamomum camphora, gum camphor and camphor laurel which are native to China and Japan.
There are three different fractions of camphor essential oil namely brown camphor, yellow camphor and white camphor essential oil. Camphor essential oil especially brown camphor contains safrole which is a toxic substance and has the potential to cause cancer. However, white camphor is non-toxic and safe for external use because the crude essential oil goes through the process of re-distillation to remove the safrole.
The white camphor essential oil is used in aromatherapy and as medicinal oil and is one of the ingredients used in a heat rub called tiger balm. It is also used in some camphor ointments to treat the symptoms of the common cold as well as sore muscles. White camphor is used in household products such as detergents and skin care products such as soaps. Because of its unique fragrance, it is also used in body sprays, deodorants, room sprays, air fresheners and other scented products.
Camphor oil is one of the oils used in vapor therapy as a remedy for treating the symptoms of flu and common colds such as cough, fever and nasal congestion. You can use the steam therapy as a home treatment to treat laryngitis and bronchitis.
Camphor essential oil also has the potential to treat skin problems such as acne and oily skin, skin irritations caused by insect bites, infections such as cold sores or fever blisters, muscle aches, sprains and joint pains such as arthritis and rheumatism and inflammations such as gout. It is also used as first aid for minor burns, cuts and bruises.
To treat the ailments, you can dilute the oil with carrier oil or make a cold or warm compress and apply it on the affected area. You can also use the diluted oil as a skin wash or soak. If you are concerned about using pure camphor essential oil to treat any of the conditions mentioned above, what you can do is get the camphor phenique pain relieving antiseptic liquid. It contains white camphor essential oil and phenol and you can apply it directly.
White camphor oil is also used as a remedy for depression. You can use the vapor therapy by adding about a drop or two into a bowl of hot water and inhaling the steam or add two drops in your warm bath to get rid of your nervous tension. It is believed that white camphor essential oil helps clarify, energize and purify the mind. Another way to use it is to diffuse it and let the aroma fill your room. It blends well with frankincense oil.
Camphor was once used in moth balls and is now available as camphor tablets and camphor blocks. The camphor blocks are used to prevent tools from rusting and to ward off bugs, fleas, moths and spiders and prevent mildews. The camphor tablets are also used by Hindus for their rituals and wedding ceremonies.
In Malaysia, camphor crystals or called kapur barus are used by Muslims during funeral rites. Camphor is also available as camphor spirit which is mixed with alcohol and is used as smelling salt and as a topical remedy to treat itching, ringworms and scabies.
Even though it is safe, white camphor essential oil is strong and should be diluted when applied topically by blending it with any carrier oil. The oil blends well with other essential oils such as basil oil, citrus oil, chamomile, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil and rosemary oil.
If you suffer from epilepsy or asthma and if you are pregnant or nursing, you should not use camphor essential oil.