Cinnamomum camphora tree is commonly called camphor or camphor laurel. It belongs to Lauraceae plant family and is native to South China, southern Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam. It grows in many other parts of the world as well. The tree grows about 53 feet high. Camphor tree produces aromatic flowers and fruit. [1]

Ho wood essential oil comes from the wood and bark of Cinnamomum camphora tree. The leaves of this medicinal tree are a source of another potent essential oil — Ravintsara oil or Ho leaf oil.

Ho wood oil is steam distilled from the dark- light grey or red-brown bark. The aromatic oil has a floral, woody or camphorous smell. [2]

For centuries people in different parts of the world are using camphor as a traditional remedy for treating numerous medical conditions including bacterial infections, inflammation, indigestion, pain, congestion, irritation, skin itch, etc. [3]

Recent clinical studies have shown that some of the key therapeutic components of Cinnamomum camphora have tumor-regressive and cytotoxic effects in numerous cancer cells. [4]

This article reviews the therapeutic properties of ho wood oil and its efficacy in relieving health conditions, all based on evidence.

Chemical Composition and Therapeutic Properties of Ho Wood Oil

The therapeutic benefits of ho wood oil come from complex chemical compounds. [1] Ho wood oil contains the greatest amount of natural linalool (80-85%) among all other steam distilled essential oils. Some other key components of ho wood oil are:

  • D-camphor (51.3%),
  • 1,8-cineole (4.3%),
  • α-terpineol (3.8%), and
  • 3-methyl-2-butenoic acid, Oct-3-en-2-aryl ester (3.1%)

Clinical studies show that the bioactive properties of ho wood oil have antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant,  sedative, antispasmodic, hypotensive effects. [2] [4]

Ho Wood Essential Oil Benefits and Uses

1. Ho Wood Essential Oil Have Anti-Tumor Activities and May Treat Cancer.

Ho Wood Essential Oil May Treat Cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019 an estimated of 1,762,450 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S.A. Cancer is a life-threatening disease that is characterized by the abnormal growth of cells inside the body. [5]

Researchers from Pars Biosciences Research Center USA report in a study that ho wood essential oil (Cinnamomum camphora) contains powerful monoterpenes. This bioactive component along with other substances have suppressive, anti-tumor, and antimutagenic effects on human cancer cells. The monoterpenes in Ho wood essential oil may be effective against colon cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, and gastric cancer. [6]

The study further looks into the safety of this alternative treatment option. The traditional chemotherapy and cytotoxic drugs affect healthy body cells while working against the abnormal cancerous cells. Monoterpenes in essential oils have multiple tumor-suppressive activities in a very different mechanism of action without any side effects. [7]
More clinical research is required to establish the efficacy and uses of Ho wood oil for cancer treatment.

Related: 6 Best Essential Oils for Breast Pain, Soreness, and Tenderness

2. Ho Wood Essential Oil May Increase Libido and Sexual Performance.

Sexual dysfunction is an inability to enjoy normal sexual intercourse. The condition includes premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, orgasmic disorder, etc.

A 2003 clinical report published in Drugs Today estimates 20-30 million men are suffering from some form of sexual dysfunction worldwide. Middle-aged and older men are most commonly affected by sexual dysfunctions. [8]

There are many aphrodisiac drugs and supplements available to increase libido, sexual pleasure and performance. However, since ancients times many natural supplements, foods, and medicinal plants have been used as an aphrodisiac to increase libido. [9] These have fewer side effects.

Many anecdotal data suggest that Ho wood essential oil may effectively boost your libido because of its camphor component. Men said to have benefited from a topical application of ho wood oil on their genitals to treat erectile dysfunction and increase pleasure.

There are contradictory medical claims on whether camphor works to boost or suppress sexual arousal. In Iranian folk, medicine camphor is both a libido suppressor and aphrodisiac. But a recent clinical trial on male rats (2018) published in the International Journal of Molecular and Cellular Medicine found no inhibitory effects of camphor on their sexual hormones and behavior. [10, 11]

A 2006 study reported in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences claims that camphor (50 mg/kg dose) in a specific dose has sexual behavior and performance enhancing properties. [12]

3. Ho Wood Essential Oil May Treat Inflammation.

Different inflammatory conditions are characterized by swelling, redness, joint pain, and stiffness, fatigue, fever, chills, loss of appetite, etc. [13]

Plant extracts from Lauraceae species such as Ho wood or Cinnamomum camphora are a traditional remedy for various inflammatory conditions and symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reports the anti-inflammatory activities of the bioactive components in Ho wood essential oil. The oil may be a useful remedy for muscle pains, rheumatism, sprains, swelling, bronchitis, etc. [14]

Related: Essential Oils For Sprains and Swelling: Uses and Precautions

4. Ho Wood Essential Oil is a Potent Insecticide.

Essential oils are effective botanical insecticides or natural substances for pest control. The oils contain ketones, lipids, phenols, terpenoids, and oxygenated derivatives that may repel insects and kill them. Synthetic insecticides or fumigants have various side effects on other animals and the environment. [15, 16 ]

Numerous scientific research confirms the insecticidal efficacy of Cinnamomum camphora tree leaves and bark. [17, 18]

camphora extracts have contact, fumigant, repellent, and growth suppressive bioactivities against various kinds of insects.

A 2016 scientific report published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences states the strong fumigant and contact toxicity of essential oils of the C. canephora in diminishing stored products pests namely red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum Herbst) and the cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne Fabricius). [19]

5. Ho Wood Essential Oil Can Treat Schistosomiasis Parasitic Infection.

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection that affects more than 200 million people worldwide. The disease is caused by Schistosoma mansoni, S. japonicum,  and S. haematobium parasite worms. [20]

The infection generally transmits from contaminated snails living in freshwater. You can get infected if the worm leaves the snails and penetrates your skin while swimming, wading, or bathing in it. Some of the signs of Schistosomiasis infection include itchy skin, rash, fever, chills, muscle aches, etc.
A 2014 clinical study reported in the journal Parasites & Vectors evaluated the biological activities of leaf extracts from Cinnamomum camphora against O. hupensis and Schistosoma japonicium parasite worms. [21]

The result showed that the linalool component of ho wood (C. camphora) has promising anti-parasitic effects against S. japonicium.

6. Ho Wood Essential Oil May Relieve Arthritis Pain.

Ho Wood Essential Oil Benefits and Uses
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 54.4 million Americans to be suffering from some form of arthritis. One of the primary aims of arthritis treatment is managing joint pain and prevent joint damage. [22]

A 2018 clinical study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology investigated the therapeutic effects of C. camphora chemical components against inflammatory diseases. [23]

The study concluded that flavonoid, terpenoid, phenylpropanoid, lignan, coumarin, and other compounds in C. camphora have potent anti-inflammatory activities. [23]

Ho wood essential oil may be an effective remedy for rheumatoid arthritis joint pain.

Related: Coconut Oil for Arthritis: 7 Reasons Why You Should Use It!

7. Ho Wood Essential Oil May Treat Congestion and Respiratory Diseases.

The camphor component of ho wood essential oil may be a powerful remedy for common cold, flu, nasal and chest congestion, etc.

Camphor is an important part of folk medical practices. Anecdotal and recent clinical research suggest the efficacy of the natural component in relieving congestion and other respiratory disorders. [24]

Related: 20 Essential Oils for Cough, Sore Throat, and Congestion

8. Ho Wood Essential Oil Can Relieve Depression and Enhance Mood.

Ho Wood Essential Oil Benefits and UsesThe 2012 World Health Organization report states depression as the most prevalent mental disorder in the world. [25]

A 2013 study in The Asian Journal of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences states the anti-depressant quality of ho wood essential oil. [26]

The researchers investigated the monoterpenoid compounds such as β-pinene, β-thujone, Linalool, and limonene in Cinnamomum camphora essential oil. These compounds have shown mood enhancing and anti-depressant activities.

How to Use Ho Wood Essential Oil

You may use ho wood oil in several ways. The oil has a thin, almost watery consistency. You can easily use it topically, diffuse it, or use it in your bath.

Topical application: to apply the oil topically, mix 3-5 drops of ho wood oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil. Massage the blend to relieve pain and relieve respiratory congestion.

Diffusing: you can diffuse ho wood oil for its soothing aroma in your living environment. Aromatherapy with ho wood oil can manage your depression, stress and anxiety issues.

Ho wood oil bath: mix 15 drops of ho wood oil and a cup of Epsom salt in your bath water in a tub. Enjoy the rejuvenating bath 15-20 minutes to relax your muscles, joint pain, and relieve depression.

Side Effects of Ho Wood Oil

Essential oils are potent chemical compounds. It’s advisable that you use them in the recommended dosage. Always do a patch test on a smaller area of skin to detect the allergic sensitivity to the oil. If you experience any allergic rash or itch on the skin, stop using the oil.

If you are using ho wood oil for aromatherapy, make sure the place you are diffusing the oil is well ventilated.

Be extra cautious of using ho wood oil if you are pregnant or a nursing mother. It’s better to consult an expert or doctor before you use the oil.

Bottom Line

Researchers think that different species of Lauraceae have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor activities.

Medical investigation on these camphor trees may be a significant step forward to find out their potential pharmaceutical uses in treating mild, and serious-life threatening diseases. [27]

Ho wood essential oil is derived from the bark of Cinnamomum camphora tree. It may be a potential remedy for minor aches, pain, cold, congestion, arthritis joint pain, etc. The oil can boost sexual energy and performance and may even treat cancer.

Read More: 7 Litsea Essential Oil Benefits, Uses and Safety Tips

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