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Terpene Profile: Borneol

Borneol is one of the most popular perfume making terpenes in the world. It was traditionally given the name Borneo camphor, denoting its relationship to camphor. Borneol can be isolated from camphor itself and also yields camphor when put through a process of oxidation.

Borneol has a minty, camphor-like aroma. The naturally occurring form presents as thin, partially opaque, whitish crystals or angular pieces. 1

Classification within Terpenes: Monoterpene

Natural Sources

    • Mugwort

Borneol is considered to be a slightly cold oil. This makes it useful in blends that are being used for fever reduction and other cooling uses. It is also considered cooling within the Chinese medicine system and has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years. 2

Uses in Aromatherapy

Brings Down Swelling

When applied with other carrier oils, Borneol has been known to help bring down swelling. This use is common in Chinese medicine but also makes it a great oil to keep in your medicine cabinet for bruises and scrapes. Make sure to mix it well with the carrier oil for best results.

Insect Repellant

Like many other strong smelling camphor derivatives, Borneol can be used as an insect repellent. Use within a diffuser, as a candle, or through application to the body via carrier oils are all effective ways to use the oil for this purpose. Many people find that using Borneol oil on the fabric of tents and outside structures will help keep insects away for several hours at a time. 3

Soothes Sore Muscles

Topically it may be applied to sore muscles to help soothe them and reduce cramping. As always, apply with a carrier oil and massage directly into the skin. The camphor-like qualities of this oil may result in a slight warming sensation. This sensation often helps sooth away the pain of the sore muscles much faster.


Another reason to use this oil when you have sustained an injury is the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the oil. Applied around the cut or used in a diffuser when you are sick, Borneol may help keep you from infection and allow your body to heal quickly.

Treats Mental Exhaustion

Via aromatherapy use, borneol may actually help alleviate mental exhaustion. Inhalation should happen once a day around bedtime to ensure the best results.

Relieves Anxiety

Borneol is one of the many oils that has been shown to alleviate mood swings. It helps to lift moods, can give energy to an individual, and helps sooth away anxiousness. It is often included in aromatherapy candles and can be used with reed diffusers or steam-based ones for home use. Many people choose to apply the oil to their body or to take it in aromatherapy necklaces when they are feeling particularly down. Try a mix of essential oils rich in borneol: cardamom, mint, ginger.

Increases Memory Recall

Many people find that using Borneol oil while working or studying helps with their memory recall as well. Simply inhaling it while looking through something you need to remember at a later date can help you recall it better. This makes it a good oil to use with school-age children and teens. It is also a good oil to include in use with college students and in care packages for students who are studying away from home. Some people choose to apply the oil to the school books so that they will never have to study without the benefits it provides.

Prevents Dehydration

Smelling the scent of Borneol will often make people feel like they need to drink something. This can help prevent dehydration and ensure that patients in situations where dehydration is an issue area better-taken care of. Borneol can often be found in medication intended to fight dehydration and in several different forms of rehydration therapy preparations.

General Healing

Most of the uses of Borneol are healing related. Applying the oil while in the hospital or recovering from surgery can help you recover faster and help avoid many of the mental issues that often come with surgery or prolonged injury. 4

Borneol infographic

Additional Information on Borneol

Borneol is now used in many lung cancer treatments and has a large amount of scientific literature about the healing properties that it contains. 5 Topical application of this oil has been recorded in the ancient history of many countries, with Asian medicine texts containing copious references to the use and storage of this oil. It comes from the same plant that is used as "Moxa" for cupping and other heating therapies within traditional Chinese medicine. Borneol

Molecular Formula: 6 C10H18O

Molecular Weight: 154.253 g/mol

Boiling Point: 213 °C (415 °F; 486 K)

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