Eucalyptus is an evergreen and fast-growing tree which is native to Australia. Today, Eucalyptus trees are grown all over the world and are widely used for their medicinal properties. Ayurvedic, Chinese Greek, and some Traditional  European medicine systems have incorporated eucalyptus in the treatments for wide a range of conditions. It is used as an ingredient in various medicinal formulations due to its abilities for reducing symptoms of congestion, cold and cough. The leaves of Eucalyptus trees contain flavonoids, which are plant-based antioxidants and tannins, which are known to reduce inflammation. Eucalyptus is an excellent pain reliever. It is widely used in various ointments and creams for relieving muscle and joints pain. 

Eucalyptus oil is obtained from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. To release the essential oils from the eucalyptus leaves, they are first dried, crushed and distilled. Essential oils are very potent and direct application may harm the skin so it's best to dilute it before use.

Apart from being useful in medicine, the oil derived from the eucalyptus tree is used for various purposes such as in perfume, an ingredient in cosmetics, in dental preparations, industrial solvents, as a flavouring and as an antiseptic.

More than 400 different species of eucalyptus are known to exist. The main source of Eucalyptus oil which is used globally is Eucalyptus globulus which is commonly known as Blue Gum.

Some basic facts about Eucalyptus:

  • Scientific Name: Eucalyptus globulus
  • Family Name: Myrtaceae.
  • Common Name(s): Tasmanian Bluegum, Eucalyptus oil is referred to as Nilgiri tel in Hindi
  • Native Region and geographical distribution: The tree of Eucalyptus oil is native to Australia, but is now cultivated all over the world. The countries which grow Eucalyptus trees include Asia, Australia,  Europe and the United States for its uses like fuelwood, timber, lumber, poles, biomass etc. The essential oils are a great source of nectar for honey bees.
  1. Some interesting facts about Eucalyptus oil
  2. Health benefits of Eucalyptus oil
  3. How to make eucalyptus oil
  4. Eucalyptus oil side effects
  5. Takeaway

When you were a young child, did your parents put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief and pin the hanky to your breast-pocket whenever you had sinus congestion? Eucalyptus is used in many homes across India. Read on to know why:

  • The oil of Eucalyptus leaves has powerful antimicrobial properties, which makes it effective for cleaning surfaces. It can kill the harmful bacteria present in the kitchen, bathroom and other areas of the house.
  • If a person feels tired or jet-lagged, eucalyptus oil can aromatically reawaken the body with its refreshing and sweet aroma.
  • This essential oil can help in removing the stains on fabrics leaving the fabric smelling fresh. It prevents bad odour and refreshes the clothes or shoes which smell bad.
  • Eucalyptus oil has positive psychological effects. When used as a part of aromatherapy, this essential oil helps in regaining the desire to be well, as well as being loved and cared.

Eucalyptus oil for cold and cough

Eucalyptus oil has been used in the traditional medicine for relieving cough. The cough medications present in the medical stores nowadays also contain eucalyptus oil as one of their main ingredients. Animal studies suggest that 1,8-Cineol or eucalyptol present in the eucalyptus oil exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect on chronic bronchitis. Also, it was reported to inhibit hypersecretion of airway mucins which is a common feature in problems like asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Clinical studies also document the efficacy of a volatile oil mixture of eucalyptus, camphor, and mint on patients suffering from an acute runny nose. As per this clinical study, a spray made from these oils can be applied 5 times a day for a period of 3 days to obtain the maximum benefits.

(Read more: Cough treatment)

Eucalyptus oil for congestion

Eucalyptus oil not only helps in alleviating cough but it is also helpful in getting the mucus out of the chest. An inhaling vapour which is made with eucalyptus essential oil can help in the loosening of mucus and expelling it with cough. The use of a rub which contains eucalyptus oil produces a similar effect. Studies suggest that eucalyptus oil is clinically effective in relieving respiratory inflammatory disorders and increasing the efflux of excess mucus.

Eucalyptus oil as a bug repellent

Insect-borne diseases are one of the major causes of mortality in the world. It is especially worse in developing countries where there is a lack of proper hygiene and sanitation facilities. Diseases like malaria, dengue and Zika have taken many lives in the past decade.

While there is some form of treatments available for most of these diseases, prevention is always better than cure. DEET sprays are one of the most popular mosquito repellents but they come with certain disadvantages. An effective alternative for those who are allergic or unable to use DEET is a botanical compound which is used to repel the pests is the oil of lemon eucalyptus. Studies suggest that eucalyptol present in eucalyptus oil is an excellent bug repellent. The same odour receptors that respond to DEET respond to eucalyptol as well.

Eucalyptus oil is one of the primary components of some commercial bug-repellents. A recent study claims that eucalyptus oil is more potent than DEET in repelling Aedes aegyptii mosquito which is the vector of dengue and chikungunya.

Eucalyptus oil for wounds

Eucalyptus has been known to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The eucalyptus leaves were used by Australian aborigines to prevent infections and treat wounds.  Diluted eucalyptus oil may be used on the skin to promote wound healing and fight inflammation. Laboratory-based studies suggest that eucalyptus oil loaded in tiny lipid layers can be used in wound healing therapies. According to an animal study, the wound healing property of eucalyptus oil is similar to that of gentamycin.

Open wounds are highly prone to infections. Several studies suggest that eucalyptus oil is not only an efficient antimicrobial but it also stimulates the phagocytic cells in the immune system leading to an improved immune response.

Eucalyptus oil for bad breath

A bad breath may make one lose an awesome opportunity just because of that one bad impression. Studies suggest that bad breath is mainly caused due to certain foods, and mouth infections. These infectious bacteria produce some volatile sulphur compounds. which is the chemical agent responsible for bad breath. Eucalyptus oil contains antibacterial properties which may be useful in fighting with the germs that cause mouth odour. In fact, a lot of mouthwashes, Chewing gums, and toothpaste contain eucalyptus oil as an active ingredient.

Another study documented that a eucalyptus-extract chewing gum showed significant reductions in both organoleptic scores and volatile sulfur compounds.

Eucalyptus products may also help in preventing plaque buildup on the teeth and gums by attacking the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Clinical studies suggest that eucalyptus oil is useful for maintaining periodontal health.

(Read more: Dental plaque)

Eucalyptus oil for joint pain

Joint pain is one of the most common problems faced by the old and elderly. Eucalyptus oil is one of the primary ingredients of some commercially available creams and ointments. It is also used in some topical formulations that are used for relieving pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is because eucalyptus oil is a potent analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-inflammatory agent.  In vivo studies suggest a topical formulation with eucalyptus oil as one of its ingredients, is useful for reducing arthritic pain.

(Read more: Arthritis treatment)

According to a systemic review published in Pain Research and Treatment, essential oils and aromatherapy are very effective in reducing all kinds of pain. So, it may be helpful in relieving back pain and recovering the joint or muscle injury sooner. Inhalation of eucalyptus oil has also been found to relieve joint pain in patients with a total knee replacement.

But the consultation and guidance of a doctor is a must before the use of eucalyptus oil for relieving pain

(Read more: Joint pain causes)

Eucalyptus oil for herpes

Herpes simplex virus infection by HSV-1 virus causes cold sores and fever blisters in and around the mouth and HSV-2 virus generally causes sores around the genital area. Studies show that an application of eucalyptus oil exerts direct antiviral activity against the HSV virus. Various antiviral compounds present in eucalyptus oil have been suggested to be effective against the relapse of herpes infection. 

Lab-studies indicate that eucalyptus essential oil affects the viral capsule which in turn stops the spread of this virus.

However, more studies are needed to clearly understand the anti-viral effects of eucalyptus oil.

Eucalyptus oil for diabetes

According to WHO, Diabetes is a chronic disease, hitting the people of almost all age groups. According to research, eucalyptus is hypoglycemic in nature and its hot aqueous decoction is used as a home remedy to lower down the blood sugar levels in various parts of the world.

Animal studies suggest that eucalyptus improves the insulin production by repairing the damage to pancreatic cells. The hypoglycemic potential of eucalyptus qualifies it further for the research to treat type 2 diabetes.

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Eucalyptus oil is really easy to make at home. Here is an easy recipe you can try: 

What you will need:

  • Dry Eucalyptus leaves 
  • Carrier oil of your choice (you can use coconut oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil for topical use)
  • Clean and dried glass jar (make sure the lid is tight-fitting)
  • Washed and dried spoon

How to make:

  • Clean and dry your hands.
  • Take the glass jar and fill it up to one-fourth with the dried Eucalyptus leaves. 
  • Pour warmed (room-temperature) oil over it until all the leaves are covered and there is about an inch more of the oil in the jar.
  • Use the spoon to properly mix the leaves with the oil, making sure that all the leaves are below the level of the oil and there is no air left in the mixture.
  • Tightly cover the jar with the lid and shake or roll it in between your palms a bit to further mix the contents.
  • Keep the jar in a cold and dark place in your home for about five weeks, shaking and rolling the contents in-between so more of the oils are released from the plant material.
  • After the designated time, strain the oil into a dark-coloured bottle or jar (make sure everything is properly washed and dried before use) by straining it through a clean cheesecloth. 
  • Store in a cold and dark place.

You can put a few drops of vitamin E into the bottle. It acts as a preservative and can improve the shelf life of the oil.

Make sure to keep looking for any cloudiness or microbial growth inside the jar/bottle. Discard the lot in case it gets contaminated.

There are a few things you should keep in mind while using eucalyptus products for their therapeutic effects:

  • Unsafe for direct or undiluted consumption by mouth 
    It is likely unsafe to consume eucalyptus oil by mouth without diluting it first. Taking more than 3.5 ml of undiluted eucalyptus oil can be fatal. Consumption of undiluted eucalyptus oil may lead to stomach painmuscle weakness, dizziness, suffocation, and seizures. Excessive use of this oil may also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  • Eucalyptus oil is unsafe to be directly applied to the skin
    A direct contact with the essential oil may result in irritation. If you have a sensitive skin, it is suggested to take a skin patch test in order to determine any potential irritation with the use of eucalyptus oil. Also, it must be diluted appropriately before use.
  • Eucalyptus oil may cause allergies
    Eucalyptus oil has been observed to cause contact dermatitis in a case study.
  • Eucalyptus oil may lower the blood sugar levels too much
    The essential oil is beneficial for patients suffering from high blood pressure as it helps in lowering the levels of blood pressure, but it may prove to be problematic for those suffering from low blood pressure as it may drop the levels of blood pressure too low. It is always advised to consume this oil as per the guidance of a healthcare physician.

Eucalyptus oil is a highly beneficial essential oil with amazing healing qualities. The essential oil proves to be extremely beneficial in treating various ailments of the respiratory system. It is one of the most common oils used for maintaining dental health.

However, it has some side effects too. Even the small amounts of undiluted eucalyptus oil can be fatal, this is the reason why it should never be given orally.

If you are looking forward to using eucalyptus oil in any form, it is best to be aware of the life-threatening risks of eucalyptus oil ingestion.

It is always considered suitable to ask a doctor before consuming eucalyptus oil. Moderation is the key.

Medicines / Products that contain Eucalyptus oil


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