Aromatic substance obtained from the wood of a tree common to Southeast Asia, Cinnamomum camphora or manufactured synthetically. When applied to the skin, camphor produces a cooling effect and dilates blood vessels, which can cause skin irritation and dermatitis with repeated use. Inhaling camphor at concentrations of 2 ppm (parts per million) or more may cause irritation of the mucous membranes and respiratory depression. Camphor can also cause skin and eye irritation on contact. In fact, depending on the dose applied, acute poisoning can (and has) occurred. [1, 2] Clearly, camphor is not an ingredient to take lightly, though it does have several medicinal applications.
- Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen A. Camphor—A Fumigant during the Black Death and a Coveted Fragrant Wood in Ancient Egypt and Babylon—A Review. Molecules. 2013;18(5):5334-5454.
- Ernst E. Adverse effects of herbal drugs in dermatology. Br J Dermatol.. 2000;143(5):923- 929.