Friday, January 13, 2012

Essential oil: White camphor essential oil - the science

White camphor essential oil contains limonene, 1,8-cineole, camphor, linalool, piperitone, eugenol and safrole, as primary ingredients. (At what levels you can find those compounds? I'm not sure as it's been really hard to find information! Some will contain no camphor and will be called ho-wood essential oil. Others have more!) I've found this document - which doesn't note the eugenol at all - and this book, which emphasizes the camphor. (Note that I own the book, but I can't link to a book at my house!) I'm going to go with the idea that white camphor essential oil contains camphor, linalool, safrole, and 1,8-cineole for the purposes of this post.

It's claimed to be an analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient, and insecticide.

We know that 1,8-cineole can be an anti-inflammatory and insect repellant, but it hasn't been proved to be an antiseptic. We know that linalool is an insecticide (killing mites) and an anti-inflammatory. We know that camphor is used for a variety of different applications, such as embalming, behaving as a plasticizer in nail polish, and repelling moths. It offers a sensation of coolness, which is why I tend to use it in combination with menthol and eucalyptus in my foot care products.

What's a rubefacient? From Wikipedia: " a substance for topical application that produces redness of the skin e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation." Camphor has been shown to have this ability. As well, it's a thermoreceptor agonist, so when you put it in something like a muscle pain rub, you'll see some reddening of the skin and a feeling of coolness.

So does it stand up to the claims? I couldn't find anything about it being a diuretic or an anti-depressant, but the evidence is there for the claims of it being an anti-inflammatory, rubefacient, insect repellant, and insecticide. Since making an insect repellant requires claims and I don't make claims I can't test, I can't say anything about using it in that capacity. I like to use camphor in my foot care products - click here for some ideas - and in anhydrous products for making me feel better during a cold or when I've hurt my muscles - click here for some ideas. (And please note I'm not making claims about these products!)

If you wish to use white camphor essential oil in your products, I'd suggest using it at 1% or less in the cool down phase of your product. As with every essential oil, it's oil soluble, so you can't add it to a water soluble product without using an emulsifier or a solubilizer, like polysorbate 20.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with essential oils!

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