According to WebMD, camphor is used for medicinal purposes including relief from coughing, skin irritation and pain from insect bites and minor burns. Camphor should not be used on broken skin or ingested. Usage for camphor products varies, so read labels carefully.
Camphor relieves coughing when applied to the chest and can be found in Vicks VapoRub and BENGAY. It is also a topical treatment for toenail fungal infections, warts and cold sores. Other known uses include treating respiratory and heart disease symptoms. Since the 1980s, camphorated oil is no longer available for purchase in the United States because of safety concerns due to its high percentage of camphor; however, it is available on the Canadian market. Camphor is manufactured from turpentine oil; camphor-related products should not be heated on a stove or in a microwave because the product can be explosive, according to WebMD.
Camphor is a waxy solid and white in color; it has a pungent odor. According to Reference.com, camphor is also used as a moth repellent, for embalming purposes and for fireworks. At one time, camphor was derived from camphor trees in China, Japan and Taiwan, but camphor's low availability and high demand required an alternate source of turpentine oil.