Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) is one of the most common ingredients in a wide variety of analgesic and decongestant medications.1
Derived from the wood of the camphor laurel tree, which is found throughout Asia, Camphor has been used for centuries as an antiseptic, decongestant, and cough suppressant, among other uses. However, it is most commonly used as an analgesic.1
It can often be found in over-the-counter products that your patients probably may use on a regular basis, which is why it is important to keep up with research on camphor’s various benefits. Below is just a small sample of research into the various benefits of camphor for relieving pain.
There is a large body of research pointing at excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light as leading to skin damage in the form of premature aging and wrinkle formation. This comes as a result of the loss of collagen (a protein in the skin responsible for keeping it firm and full).
An article in the journal Phytotherapy Research reported on a study performed on mice exposed to UV for four weeks, and then treated with camphor.2 The camphor stimulated the growth of collagen, thereby reducing the skin damage as a result of UV exposure.
Relieving pain and inflammation
Your patients are probably most familiar with camphor as an ingredient in topical analgesics to relieve immediate pain and inflammation, usually as the result of overworking. However, topical camphor can also be used over longer periods to treat chronic muscle and joint pain and inflammation.
A study in the Pakistani Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences looked at the effect of an analgesic spray over the course of 14 days.3 Twenty subjects used the spray (containing gaultheria, eucalyptus, turpentine and clove oils, as well as menthol and camphor) on a variety of locations, including the knee and wrist joints, back of the neck, shoulder, forearms, and lower back. At the end of the study, the subjects reported mild to moderate improvement in the affected areas as a result of using the spray.3
There has been ongoing research into effective ways to speed the healing process following second- and third-degree burns, with less scarring. A study in the World Journal of Plastic Surgery compared an ointment consisting of sesame oil, and camphor and honey, with standard Vaseline for treating second-degree burns on a group of 40 rats.4 The wounds were photographed over time to track the healing process. At the end of 28 days, the wounds on the rats treated with the camphor dressings had healed better with less scarring and a lower risk of microbial infection.4
Like several other herbal preparations, such as aloe and curcumin, your patients may only be familiar with one or two uses for camphor. Pain relief, skin damage and healing burns are additional camphor benefits you can offer to your patients as well.
Hamidpour R, Hamidpour S, Hamidpour M, Shahlari M. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), a traditional remedy with the history of treating several diseases. International Journal of Case Reports and Images 2013;4(2):86-89.
Tran TA, Ho MT, Song YW, et al. Camphor induces proliferative and anti-senescence activities in human primary dermal fibroblasts and inhibits. UV-induced wrinkle formation in mouse skin. Phytotherapy Research 2015 Dec;29(12):1917-1925.
Nawaz A, Sheikh ZA, Feroz M, et al. Clinical efficacy of polyherbal formulation Eezpain spray for muscular pain relief. Pakistani Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2015 Jan;28(1):43-47.
Vaghardoost R, Mousavi Majd SG, Tebyanian H, et al. The healing effect of sesame oil, camphor and honey on second degree burn wounds in rats. World Journal of Plastic Surgery 2018;7(1):67-71.