Camphor Essential Oil (Cinnamomum camphora)

Camphor Essential Oil
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Botanical name  Cinnamomum camphora

Synonym  Hon-sho (true camphor)

Family  Lauraceae

Source Wood and bark

Color/Consistency  Slightly viscous, pale yellow to brown liquid.

Origin China

Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma Camphor Essential Oil is a top note with a strong, penetrating, fragrant odor.

Blends With  Basil, Cajeput,Chamomile,Lavender, Melissa, and Rosemary.

Product Abstract

Camphor is a white crystalline substance, obtained from the tree C. camphora. Camphor has been used for many centuries as a culinary spice, a component of incense, and as a medicine. It is also an insect repellent and a flea-killing substance.

C. camphora is native to jeju off the coast of Korea, Taiwan, southern Japan, southeast China, and  Indochina, where it is also cultivated for camphor and timber production. The production and shipment of camphor, in a solid, waxy form, was a major industry in Taiwan prior to and during the Japanese colonial era (1895–1945). It was used medicinally and was also an important ingredient in the production of  smokeless celluloid. Primitive stills were set up in the mountainous areas in which the tree is usually found. The wood was chipped; these chips were steamed in a retort, allowing the camphor to crystallize on the inside of a crystallization box, after the vapour had passed through a cooling chamber. It was then scraped off and packed out to government-run factories for processing and sale. Camphor was one of the most lucrative of several important government monopolies under the Japanese.


Camphor laurel was introduced to Australia in 1822 as an Ornamental tree for use in gardens and public parks. It has become a noxious weed throughout Queensland and central to northern New South Wales, where it is suited to the wet, subtropical climate. However, the tree provides hollows quickly in younger trees, whereas natives can take hundreds of years to develop hollows.

Harvesting/Extraction Information

Camphor used to be made by distilling the bark and wood of the camphor tree.The camphor tree can grow up to 35 meters (100 feet) and the active component is found in every part of the tree, native to Formosa (Taiwan), China and Japan and can often grow very old. It must be at least 50 years old to produce the oil.

Common Usage

  • Improves Circulation
  • Prevents Skin Infections
  • Eliminates Gas
  • Reduces Nervous Disorders
  • Relieves Spasms
  • Boosts the Libido
  • Relieves Neuralgis
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Reduces Arthritis Pain
  • Relaxes Nerves & Brain
  • Relieves Congestion


Due to the presence of camphor in this oil, please consult a medical practitioner before use. Dilute before use; for external use only. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.

Key constituents

(þ)-Limonene   44.2%

p-Cymene   24.2%

a-Pinene  8.9%

1,8-Cineole   6.5%

Sabinene  4.2%

b-Pinene   4.0%

Camphene  3.0%

Camphor  2.4%

Safrole    tr

Safety summary

Hazards Skin sensitization if oxidized.
Cautions  Old or oxidized oils should be avoided.

Our safety advice Because of its (þ)-limonene and a-pinene content we recommend that oxidation of white camphor oil is avoided by storage in a dark, airtight container in a refrigerator. The addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing it is recommended.

Regulatory guidelines  IFRA  recommends that essential oils rich in limonene should only be used when the level of peroxides is kept to the lowest practical level, for instance by adding antioxidants at the time of production.

Organ-specific effects

Adverse skin reactions  In a modified Draize procedure on guinea pigs, white camphor oil was non-sensitizing when usedat 30% in the challenge phase. Undiluted white camphor oil was mildly irritating to rabbits; tested at 20% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing. Autoxidation products of (þ)-limonene and a-pinene can cause skin sensitization; 1,8-cineole has antioxidant properties.

Reproductive toxicity The low reproductive toxicity of (þ)- limonene, a-pinene and 1,8-cineole suggests that white camphor oil is not hazardous in pregnancy.

Systemic effects
Acute toxicity  White camphor oil acute oral LD50 in rats 5.1 mL/kg; acute dermal LD50 in rabbits >5 mL/kg.

Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential  No information ! found. Safrole is a rodent carcinogen, and (þ)-limonene displays anticarcinogenic activity.

The presence in white camphor oil of traces of safrole is not a cause for concern. Camphor is the name of a tree, the name of its essential oil, and the name of a chemical constituent found in this, and other essential oils. The crude exudate from the tree contains around 50% of camphor. Camphor oil is separated into four distinct ‘essential oils’ by fractional distillation, after the crude camphor crystals are removed by filtration. These fractions are known as white camphor oil, brown camphor oil, yellow camphor oil and blue camphor oil. Because of this fractionation process, none of these can be classed as true essential oils. White camphor oil, the most widely used therapeutically of these, contains very little camphor. In addition, the camphor plant exists in five chemotypes - borneol, nerolidol, camphor, 1,8-cineole and linalool. Only the last three are commercially available. Oils from the leaves of these plants are known as ho leaf oils.

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