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Camphor Oil & Earaches

author image Kate Sheridan
Kate Sheridan is a freelance writer, researcher, blogger, reporter and photographer whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and trade publications for over 35 years. She attended Oakland University and The University of Michigan, beginning her journalism career as an intern at the "Rochester Eccentric." She's received honors from the Michigan Press Association, American Marketing Association and the State of Michigan Department of Commerce.
Camphor Oil & Earaches
A young woman is at the doctor for an earache. Photo Credit: oneblink-cj/iStock/Getty Images

Camphor oil has been used for centuries by herbalists and folk medicine practitioners to treat pain and inflammations. The pungent oil of the imposing camphor tree is used in pain-relieving remedies such as balms, salves and ointments. Camphor oil's key characteristic is that it's a natural anesthetic that numbs the application site very quickly, deadening the pain. With the excruciating pain attributed to earaches, camphor oil can offer quick relief until you can visit a doctor. However, never try any herbal remedies without getting the consent of a medical professional.

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The most common cause of painful earaches is a blockage in the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to your throat, according to nose, throat and ear specialist Dr. Dudley J. Weider of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, New Hampshire. Earaches can also be triggered by infections in the middle ear, sinusitis, colds and the flu.

Camphor Functions

Camphor is a penetrating oil that is absorbed into your skin quickly. You may feel an initial coolness, then a numb sensation as the oil affects your nerve endings. Camphor is a powerful analgesic, antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial that can also help kill germs that may be contributing to your earache by causing your sinuses or nasal passages to be infected. Camphor oil is frequently blended with creams or salves for a convenient topical treatment.


Earaches occur most frequently at night, when the Eustacian tubes can't drain properly in a prone, sleeping body. Earache pain can be excruciating even when the cause is not serious. Always have your aching ear seen by a health care professional, but you can manage the pain in the interim by warming the passageway and deadening the nerve endings. Heat a bottle of baby oil until it reaches body temperature. Mix 3 drops camphor oil into 1/2 tsp. of the warm baby oil, then use a dropper to insert a few drops into the aching ear.

Camphor For Immediate Pain Relief

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved camphor in concentrations of up to 11 percent for use in topical pain relief and as an anesthetic. Scientists in Australia demonstrated the quick pain-eliminating merits of camphor oil when they used the compound in a pain study involving people who suffered from osteoarthritis. Those who used a topical cream containing camphor showed measurable pain relief within a day, unlike those patients who were administered a placebo.


Camphor oil is a strong and penetrating oil that can be toxic if ingested or inhaled in large quantities or over an extended period. Don't use camphor oil if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Camphor works directly on nerve endings, so avoid camphor if you have a history of nervous complaints or seizures. Camphor isn't easy to process out of your body, so don't use camphor continually unless directed by a doctor.

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