Camphor used to be made by distilling the bark and wood of the camphor tree. Today, camphor is chemically manufactured from turpentine oil. It is used in products such as Vicks Vapo Rub.
Camphor products can be rubbed on the skin (topical application) or inhaled. Be sure to read the label to find out how the product should be administered.
People use camphor topically to relieve pain and reduce itching. It has also been used to treat fungal infections of the toenail, warts, cold sores, hemorrhoids, and osteoarthritis.
Camphor is used topically to increase local blood flow and as a which reduces pain and swelling by causing irritation. It is important not to apply camphor to broken skin, because it can enter the body quickly and reach concentrations that are high enough to cause poisoning.
Some people use camphor topically to treat respiratory tract diseases and to treat heart disease symptoms. Camphor is also used topically as an ear drop, and for treating minor burns.