Camphor oil, an organic compound extracted from the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), is used in many herbal alternative treatments today. The camphor tree is native to Japan, China, and Taiwan, and has been highly sought after for thousands of years because of its innumerable health benefits.
While you may not have heard of camphor before, chances are, you probably have it stored somewhere in your medicine cabinet. Popular items like Vicks VapoRub and many soothing topical creams include camphor as an ingredient. In fact, camphor oil and the camphor terpene (a diverse, typically fragrant class of compounds produced by plants) have been used for centuries for a variety of purposes, but today, it is celebrated for its ability to soothe aches and pains and provide natural pain relief.
Camphor health benefits
The herb is clinically proven to be a powerful topical pain reliever and is known for its ability to relieve congestion, pain, irritation, inflammation, and itching from rashes. Camphor acts as a pain reliever and counterirritant in a similar fashion to menthol, by finding pain receptors and muting them so that the brain is distracted, lessening the pain and making it manageable. Topical camphor feels pleasantly warm and tingly, and it instantly relieves soreness of joints, muscle tension, and pain.
When applied to the skin, camphor initially causes a cooling sensation, which soothes inflammation, redness, irritation, and muscular aches and pains. The cooling effect is then followed by a localized heating sensation which helps to promote healthy and healing blood flow to the site of application.
What is camphor?
Camphor, or camphor oil, comes from the aromatic camphor tree, or cinnamomum camphora. It is distilled from the tree’s branches, chipped wood, and root stumps. There are four classes of camphor essential oil – white, brown, yellow, and blue – but only white camphor oil can be used in medicinal and aromatic applications. It is a transparent white solid with a distinctive, menthol-like smell.
Camphor is classified as a terpene, which is a vast class of naturally occurring compounds that give plants their distinguishing flavors and fragrances. Before its introduction to Florida in the late 1800s, camphor already had a long history of use, primarily in China, Japan, and India for both religious and medicinal purposes. Today, camphor is used in holistic medicine, beauty and healthcare products, and as a fragrance and flavoring agent.
Camphor’s lasting aroma, which is likened to that of menthol, can be described as cool, bright, and piercing. It is these scent characteristics that make it a popular choice for aromatherapy, particularly in instances where easier and deeper breathing is desired. Camphor is often used in vapor rubs for its unique ability to offer relief to both head and chest congestion.
Creams and lotions that include camphor are commonly used to lessen itchiness, reduce skin irritation, and improve the radiance and overall look of skin. A 2015 study showed that camphor was effective at reducing sun and ultraviolet light-induced wrinkles, so many anti-aging products include camphor as an ingredient. It is also known to increase elastin and increase collagen production.
Camphor for pain relief
Camphor is often found as an ingredient in natural muscle rubs because of its antispasmodic and relaxing properties. It is known to be effective at soothing muscle cramps, stiffness, and spasms. Applying camphor topically is also an effective way to relieve pain and inflammation. It is also known to promote relaxation, reduce stress, boost immunity, and quicken recovery times.
Camphor is shown to be successful in relieving the pain, inflammation, and swelling associated with joint pain. Applied to the skin, camphor initially causes a cooling sensation, followed by a localized heating sensation which helps to promote healthy and healing blood flow to the site of application. Every pump of Rightful Pain Relief & Recovery Cream is made with 4% camphor to relieve pain naturally.
Why we use camphor | healthy, beyond relief
Camphor for relief:
- Produces a cool-then-warm sensation that dampens pain signals
- Provides fast-acting relief of localized aches and pains
- Exhibits antispasmodic properties that help to relax tense or sore muscles
Camphor for beyond relief:
- Soothes the skin
- Provides aromatherapy benefit with a cool, bright, and piercing scent