10 White Camphor Oil Benefits Science Has Proved

Camphor tree was extremely popular in Europe before the Renaissance period. Its leaves, twigs, and wood were used for cooking meat. On the other hand, camphor oil was utilized as an ingredient for candies, beverages (root beer), and puddings. It was also used to treat cough, skin irritation, and pain. But not many know that white camphor oil benefits aren’t limited to these. (1)

There is more and that’s exactly what we will tell you today. So, let’s jump into the article.

What Is White Camphor Oil?

what is white camphor oil

White camphor essential oil is extracted from the roots, branches, or chipped wood (at least 50 years old) of camphor trees through the process of distillation. It is highly potent but gives you a lot of surprising benefits. A unique speciality of camphor oil is that it holds a place in both modern as well as traditional medicines. (2, 3)

Today, camphor is manufactured chemically from turpentine oil. You will see them being used in products like Vicks VapoRub. Camphor-based products can be applied or inhaled.

Scientific Name Of White Camphor Oil

 The botanical name of white camphor is Cinnamomum camphora.

History Of White Camphor Oil

Cinnamomum camphora or camphor tree is native to Asia, China, Taiwan, and Japan. In olden days, people grew camphor trees abundantly in China for medicinal purposes. But now, the trees are abundantly grown in India and Sri Lanka as well.

They belong to the Laurel family and is widely found in Southern U.S., especially Florida.

The other popular names of camphor are:

  • Camphor tree
  • Camphorwood
  • Camphor laurel

Camphor is a white, crystalline substance with a pungent taste and strong odor.

Since centuries, camphor is well known throughout the world for treating cold, aches, infections, and skin irritation.

Fact: To extract the camphor oil, the tree needs to be at least 50 years old to withstand the process of oil extraction. The oil can be obtained through steam distillation, purification, and sublimation of Cinnamomum camphora wood.

The oil obtained after the extraction has three varieties:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Brown

The white portion has the lowest boiling point and thus, it settles down at the bottom. The brown and yellow being the top layer has the highest melting point.

Fact: The white camphor oil is healthy and useful whereas the yellow & brown layers are toxic due to the presence of a compound called safrole, which is carcinogenic (cancer-causing substance) when used in excess. However, minute amounts of safrole is safe.

Color, Consistency, and Smell of White Camphor Oil

  • The color of white camphor oil is clear or transparent.
  • The consistency of white camphor oil is thin.
  • The smell of white camphor oil is fresh, intense, and woody.

Properties Of White Camphor Essential Oil

 The therapeutic properties of camphor essential oil include:

  • Insect repellent – Repels insects naturally
  • Decongestant – Eases blocked chest
  • Antispasmodic – Relieves muscle spasms
  • Anesthetic – Pain reliever and helps treat numbness
  • Anti-inflammatory – Fights pain, swelling, redness, pain, and high temperature
  • Sedative – Relaxes and helps you sleep
  • Antiseptic – Prevents infections
  • Antipruritic – Prevents the formation of pus
  • Rubefacient – Helps you relieve pain by dilating your blood vessels
  • Contraceptive – Prevents pregnancy
  • Expectorant – Helps you to spit out sputum
  • Nasal decongestant – Helps relieve congestion or blocked nose
  • Cough suppressant – Prevents cough
  • Antirheumatic – Prevents rheumatism
  • Anticancer – Fights cancer
  • Antimutagenic – Prevents the cancer cells from spreading
  • Insecticidal – Kills harmful insects
  • Antimicrobial – Fights harmful organisms such as bacteria
  • Antifungal – Effective against fungi

Besides these, here are a few others to make a note of:

  • Cooling and penetrating scent
  • Nullifies apathy (lack of interest)
  • Eases skin diseases
  • Fights fungal infections
  • Relieves muscle stiffness or cramps
  • Soothes your nerves

Chemical Compounds In White Camphor Oil

The essential compounds found in white camphor oil are:

  • Camphene
  • Borneol
  • Pinene
  • Terpene
  • Alcohol
  • Small traces of safrole
  • D-camphor
  • 1,8-cineole
  • Α-terpineol
  • Linalool
  • 3-methyl-2-butenoic acid
  • Oct-3-en-2-yl ester
  • Artemesia triene
  • Α-Pinene
  • 2-Thujene
  • Sabenene
  • Β-Pinene
  • Α-Phellandrene
  • P-Mentha-2,4(8)-diene
  • 3-Carene
  • 4-Carene
  • O-Cymene
  • M-Cymene
  • Α-trans-Ocimene
  • 2,2-Dimethylheptane
  • Γ-Terpinen
  • 2,2,5-Trimethylhexane-3,4-dione
  • 4,7-Dimethyl-4,4a,5,6-tetrahydrocyclopenta[c]pyran-1,3-dione
  • 2,5,9-Trimethyldecane
  • Isoterpinolene
  • Undecane
  • 1-Methyl-5-(1-methylvinyl)cyclohexene
  • 1,3,8-p-Menthatriene
  • 7,7-Dimethyl-2-methylenenorbornane
  • D-Camphor
  • Terpinen-4-ol
  • Endo-Borneol
  • Α-Terpineol
  • P-Menth-1-en-4-ol
  • P-Menth-1-en-8-ol
  • B-Terpinyl acetate
  • Dihydro-cis-α-copaene-8-ol
  • Α-Bourbonene
  • 1,5-Dimethyl-8-isopropenyl-1,5-cyclodeca-diene
  • Caryophyllene
  • Bergamotene
  • Aromadendrene
  • Γ-Patchoulene
  • Γ-Elemene
  • Α-Cubebene
  • Germacrene D
  • Α-Caryophyllene
  • Β-Selinene
  • 1,2,3,4,6,8alpha-Hexahydro-1-isopropyl-4,7-dimethylnaphthalene
  • Β-Cadinene
  • Α-Calacorene
  • 3,5-Dimethyl-4-octanone
  • Cadina-1(10),4-diene
  • 3,7,11-Trimethyl-3-hydroxy-6,10-dodecadien-1-yl acetate
  • Oxalic acid,di(1-menthyl) ester
  • 1,3,3-Trimethyl-2-hydroxymethyl-3,3-dimethyl-4-(3-methylbut-2-enyl)-cyclohexene
  • 3-Methyl-2-butenoic acid, oct-3-en-2-yl ester

The essential oil extracted from the stem bark of camphor have these unique components:

  • α-terpineol
  • α-cubebene
  • β-cadinene
  • γ-terpinen
  • isoterpinolene
  • 1,3,8-p-menthatriene
  • terpinen-4-ol
  • eugenol

health beenfits of white camphor oil

Health Benefits Of White Camphor Oil

Fact: Earlier civilization burned camphor as a part of their daily prayer. It helped purify the air and kept the dangerous viruses & bacteria away.

Besides purifying the air, the other white camphor oil benefits that were proven by different studies recently are:

  • Treats colds, congestion, and asthma
  • An effective insecticide
  • Has anticancer properties
  • Relieves itchiness and irritation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Effective against fungal infections
  • Relieves muscle & nerve spasms
  • Serves as a sedative
  • Effective anesthetic

1. Treats colds, congestion, and asthma

Camphor is a well-known decongestant. In fact, it is an age-old remedy for treating colds, congestion, and asthma.

Asthma is a condition where there is a spasm/constriction of your airways, coupled with excess mucus production and inflammation of airways.

However, camphor oil can tackle all such symptoms effectively.

White camphor oil helps in easing cold by relieving congestion or blockage in your bronchi, larynx, pharynx, nasal tracts, and lungs. It lets you to spit out sputum. The oil’s pain relieving action soothes your cold further. (4)

Note: Never let an asthma patient inhale camphor oil directly, as it can trigger spasms. Also, over dosage is always toxic.

2. An effective insecticide

During a study, the researchers extracted oil from the stem barks, leaves, and fruits of Cinnamomum camphora via steam distillation. They measured the insecticidal activity via the seal-spaced fumigation technique. The oil had strong fumigant toxicity against Tribolium castaneum and Lasioderma serricorne adults, which attack the stored pests.

The oil also had contact toxicity, repellent activity, and progeny suppression.

 Tribolium castaneum is commonly known as the red flour beetle, and Lasioderma serricorne is popularly known as the cigarette beetle.

They affect the stored products. Though we can control them via synthetic fumigants and insecticides, synthetic ones do come with unwanted effects such as environmental pollution, harm to animals, and developing resistance to the medicines.

However, the fumes of camphor essential oil killed 100% of the tested pests at a concentration of 3.2 mg/ L air.

At a concentration of 50 µg/Adult, the essential oil had a mortality rate of up to 45%. The study confirmed that camphor oil and its compounds can be a natural pest control measure.

 The intense, strong, and penetrating fragrance of camphor essential oil helps in repelling insects, especially moths & flies. It is also a popular ingredient for mothballs, which is used in clothes and linens. (5)

3. Has anticancer properties

White camphor has been studied for its anticancer properties. The monoterpenes present in it suppress the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

They effectively work against these cancer types:

  • Gastric cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Liver tumor
  • Leukemia/ blood cancer

 During a study, the researchers studied the effects of camphor vapor on the cancer cells of YC8 lymphoma.

They used the camphor vapor as a conditioning agent and combined its effects with the immunotherapy treatment, which is a type of cancer treatments.

The study reported that camphor suppressed the growth of YC8 tumor and increased the sensitivity of radiation, which is another treatment for cancer.

Studies state that camphor aids in reducing tumor size. A Canadian researcher formulated a camphor based drug called 714-X, and it works well against prostate and breast cancers. (6)

4. Relieves itchiness and irritation

 White camphor-based oils were used in earlier days to get rid of skin irritation. But note that just like any essential oil, even white camphor EO is concentrated too and needs to be diluted with a carrier oil before applying it on the skin.

Dilute 20% camphor oil in 80% of cottonseed oil, and apply over the affected area. The mixture desensitizes your sensory nerves relieving the pain, irritation, and itchiness.

 By activating a few of the TRP (Transient Receptor Potential) channels like TRPV1, TRPV3, TRPM8, and inhibiting TRPA1, camphor oil causes warmness and desensitizes your nerves.

Gandhaka malahara is an ayurvedic medicine, which treats skin irritations and other skin diseases, and camphor is one of the main ingredients in it. (7, 8)

5. Reduces inflammation

 White camphor is a proven anti-inflammatory. It can be used in the form of balm or cream to relieve pain, swelling, redness, and loss of movement of joints and muscles.

Padma 28 is a multi-compound herbal formulation made from camphor and is effective on chronic or long-standing inflammatory diseases. (9, 10)

6. Effective against fungal infections

 White camphor essential oil fights C. cucurbitarum, a fungus, which makes the flowers or fruits of cucurbits, snap bean, okra, and southern peas to rot.

However, the researchers studied white camphor oil via SPME-GC-FID, enantio-GC, GC-FID, and GC/MS techniques.

Two forms of camphor contribute to 68.4–81.2% of white camphor oil. The researchers studied the effects after 18, 21 and 24 hours of treatments with camphor oil and concluded (1 R)-(+) camphor present in the oil inhibited the growth of C. cucurbitarum significantly.

Also, camphor essential oil exhibited better antifungal activity than (1 R)-(+)-camphor alone. (11, 12)

7. Relieves muscle & nerve spasms

 White camphor oil is an antispasmodic. This property helps in relieving muscle and nerve spasms. So, the next time you experience those painful spasms, dilute white camphor essential oil with a suitable carrier oil like mustard oil or coconut oil and massage gently to get rid of the discomfort. (13, 14, 15)

8. Boosts circulatory system

 White camphor is a stimulant. It can stimulate and boost your circulatory system. It can also cause coolness by stimulating the nerve endings. Besides this, camphor aroma can also uplift your mood. (16)

9. Serves as a sedative

 White camphor oil can help sedate or relax your nerves be reducing the inflammation. It is a well-known sedative. (17)

10. Effective anesthetic

White camphor EO is a mild local anesthetic. The oil produces a cooling sensation, which blocks the sensory level on your skin and reduces your brain’s ability to feel the pain. (18) 

What Blends With White Camphor Oil?

White camphor oil blends well the best with:

How To Use White Camphor Oil?

how to use white camphor oil

Always talk to your doctor before you start with any essential oil including white camphor oil. White camphor essential oil can be a valuable addition to your first aid kit. However, be sure to try a patch test first.

Add a drop of white camphor essential oil to 100 drops of any carrier oil. Use a piece of cotton to apply a very little amount of oil to your forearm. Observe for 10 to 15 minutes. If you do not experience redness/swelling/itching or any sort of irritation, the oil is safe on you.

  • You can dilute white camphor oil with a suitable carrier oil. Massage over the affected area to relieve cramps and ease muscle stiffness.
  • Massage the diluted mixture over the affected nerves to calm them down.
  • Massage the diluted mixture over your chest to reduce congestion.
  • Add a couple of drops of white camphor oil to your bath water, and mix well. Soak in it for about ten minutes.
  • Add a couple of drops of white camphor essential oil to your diffuser to relieve your cold, cough, and congestion/ blocked nose and chest.
  • To use the Cinnamomum camphora oil as an insect repellent, soak a small cloth in white camphor oil and keep it near/ outside your door or windows for the magic to happen. You may even keep it outside your house.
  • Dilute the camphor oil with a suitable carrier oil and massage over your scars to lighten them. Apply the same over your scalp to promote hair growth and prevent dandruff as well as lice.
  • Mix a teaspoon of white camphor EO with 100 ml of sesame oil, and apply over your joints to ease rheumatism.
Note: The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) states that 3 to 11% of camphor oil is safe for external use.

Do not use the oil in pregnancy, during breastfeeding, or on small children and senior citizens. Be cautious if you are suffering from any disease or under any medication to avoid potential reactions.

Never use camphor essential oil on open wounds or burns.

Side Effects Of White Camphor Oil

  • Make sure you do not use brown or yellow camphor oil, as they are toxic.
  • Small children may be sensitive to this oil.
  • Do not use the oil at night, as it may interfere with your sleep.
  • Ingesting the oil can be deadly: Internal use of oil can be toxic. The toxicity symptoms include vomiting sensation, vomiting, and burning of mouth & throat. The oil can also harm your liver.
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