July 28, 2015


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How does Camphor work?

Camphor seems to stimulate nerve endings that relieve symptoms such as pain and itching when applied to the skin. Camphor is also active against fungi that cause infections in the toenails.

Are there safety concerns?

Camphor is safe for most adults when applied to the skin in a cream or lotion. Camphor can cause some minor side effects such as skin redness and irritation. Don't use undiluted camphor products or products containing more than 11% camphor. These can be irritating and unsafe. Also, don't apply camphor containing products to broken or injured skin.

Camphor is also safe for most adults when inhaled as vapor in small amounts as a part of aromatherapy. Don't use more than 1 tablespoon camphor solution per quart of water. Do not heat camphor-containing products (Vick's VapoRub, BenGay, Heet, many others) in the microwave. The product can explode and cause severe burns.

Don't take camphor products by mouth. Ingesting camphor can cause severe side effects, including death.

Do not use camphor on children. They tend to be more sensitive to the side effects. Keep camphor-containing products away from children. Seizures and death can occur if these products are eaten.

Do not use camphor if:
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Dosing considerations for Camphor.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • For pruritis and pain: A 3% to 11% ointment is typically used three to four times daily.
  • For cough: A thick layer of 4.7% to 5.3% camphor ointment is applied to the throat and chest. The area may be covered with a warm, dry cloth or left uncovered.
  • For osteoarthritis: A topical cream containing camphor (32 mg/g), glucosamine sulfate (30 mg/g), and chondroitin sulfate (50 mg/g) as needed on sore joints for up to 8 weeks.
  • One tablespoon of solution per quart of water is placed directly into a hot steam vaporizer, bowl, or washbasin. Sometimes 1.5 teaspoons of solution are added to a pint of water and boiled. The medicated vapors are breathed. This inhalation may be repeated up to three times a day.

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