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What are the therapeutic properties of camphor?

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Quick Answer

Camphor is used for treating coughs, pain and itchy skin, according to WebMD. It is also used by some people to treat osteoarthritis, toe nail fungus and low blood pressure.

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Full Answer

The Federal Drug Administration approves camphor for use as a chest rub that helps treat coughs. However, the concentration of camphor in a chest rub must remain at or below 11 percent, states WebMD. It is also approved by the FDA for use as a topical pain killer, as long as the concentration remains between 3 and 11 percent. Camphor is an active ingredient in many rubs for cold sores, insect bites, minor burns and hemorrhoids. These concentration restrictions apply to FDA-approved rubs for itchy or irritated skin as well.

There is limited evidence to suggest that camphor is effective for treating osteoarthritis, as of 2015. However, a topical cream that contains camphor, glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and researchers believe that camphor is the active ingredient in this solution, reports WebMD. There is only preliminary evidence available for the effectiveness of camphor in treating nail fungus and low blood pressure, but the early research is promising. Applying camphor rubs with additional ingredients to infected toenails does work for some people.

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