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What is camphor spirit used for?

Updated April 17, 2017

Camphor spirit has a long tradition of use, both topically and via steam or direct inhalation. Though some traditions also advocate the use of camphor internally, the risks are serious and far outweigh any possible benefits. However, using camphor spirit for topical relief of certain conditions can be a safe and effective remedy.

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Camphor is a substance derived from the camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphora. It can also be produced synthetically. Camphor is a white crystalline substance and it has a strong, distinctive, penetrating odour. The spirit portion of camphor spirit refers to some sort of alcohol, often a pure ethyl alcohol. An herbal spirit, such as camphor spirit, is often called a "tincture."

Steam Inhalant

Camphor spirit can be used to relieve and reduce coughing from cold, sinus infection or allergic irritation. Use of a camphor substance in a steam vaporiser can help relieve coughing by working with the steam to moisten breathing passages, thus calming the cough reflex.

Topical Pain Relief

Camphor has been used to relieve pain via topical application. To use a camphor spirit as pain relief, for sore muscles or a sore throat, a bandage could be soaked in camphor spirit and applied to the sore area. Camphor spirit should never be used on broken skin or open wounds.

Topical Relief of Skin Irritation

Camphor spirit can be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, reports AltMD.com. Camphor can have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action, which can bring relief to itching and irritated skin.

Vivifying Inhalant

Perhaps the most common uses of camphor spirit are as an inhalant to prevent or treat fainting. Though the image of Victorian-era women swooning comes to mind, camphor spirit as a sort of modern-day smelling salt can be effective. Camphor is a nervous system stimulant, which can reduce the feeling of faintness.


Some Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine practices use camphor internally, according to AltMD.com. However, camphor can be extremely dangerous when taken internally and can result in convulsions, hallucinations and can even be fatal.

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About the Author

Annie Mueller is a professional writer and blogger. Since 2003 she has written extensively on small business, finances, parenting, education and personal growth, and has been published on Financial Edge and many other websites. Mueller attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in English from Mississippi State University.

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