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Eucalyptus Oil

General Information

Eucalyptus trees belong to the Myrtaceae family. There are many species of eucalyptus tree. Eucalyptus is native to Australia and is the main food and water source for koala bears.

Common Name(s)

eucalyptus essential oil, eucalyptol, eucalyptus oil, fever tree, blue gum, gum tree, red gum, stringy bark tree

Scientific Name(s)

Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus fructicetorum, Eucalyptus smithii, Eucalyptus polybractea

Scientific Name(s)

Dried eucalyptus leaves and eucalyptus oil are used in small quantities in food as flavouring agents. Eucalyptus oil is often added to scent soaps or perfumes. The dried leaves and tree oils are mainly used in combination with other ingredients to make a variety of products, such as lotions and creams, teas, tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solutions, and lozenges. Eucalyptus is also used to make mouthwash, antisepticantiseptican agent that prevents or reduces infection from woundss, and toothpaste.

Talk to your health care provider before consuming eucalyptus oil. Doses vary according to the intended use.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Eucalyptus oil is found in many cough and cold products to help with treatment of stuffy nose and cough. Although some studies show that cough and cold products that contain eucalyptus oil can provide temporary relief for stuffy nose and cough, there isn't enough evidence to conclusively support this claim.

Eucalyptol, one of the active chemicals found in eucalyptus oil, is thought to have antibacterial properties. It is added to mouthwashes to help reduce tooth decay and gingivitis caused by bacteria, and is also used in products that are applied to the skin to treat wounds, burns, and ulcers. Several well-designed studies have shown that mouthwashes containing eucalyptus oil or eucalyptol in combination with other ingredients can reduce dental plaque and gingivitis. It is not clear if eucalyptus oil or eucalyptol would be useful for this purpose on its own.

Eucalyptus oil is also thought to reduce inflammation, and people have used it for conditions associated with inflammation, including arthritis, asthma, and bronchitis. The effectiveness of eucalyptus oil for inflammatory conditions has varied, although a combination product containing eucalyptol is possibly effective for bronchitis, according to some research. However, further research is required.

Eucalyptus has also been used as an insecticide in many repellent sprays.

To date, research results on the use of eucalyptus oil alone are not conclusive to prove any of the health claims associated with the herb.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Eucalyptus oil in topical and inhalation products is generally well tolerated by adults. Side effects can include local redness, burning, and irritation. Some people can develop an allergic skin reaction to eucalyptus-oil-containing creams and lotions. There is also a risk of experiencing more severe side effects from eucalyptus oil products that are taken by mouth. Do not take eucalyptus oil by mouth unless directed by your physician.

Serious side effects that could be caused by eucalyptus oil poisoning include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abdominalabdominalrelating to the stomach and intestines pain, difficulty breathing, very weak muscles, diarrhea, confusion, seizures, and difficulty waking up. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medication attention. Never take undiluted eucalyptus oil by mouth.

If you are allergic to eucalyptus oil, eugenol, eucalyptol, or any other member of the Myrtaceae tree family, do not use products that contain eucalyptus oil.

If you have heart disease, acute intermittent porphyria, kidney disease, serious liver disease, or inflammation of the stomach or gallbladder, do not take eucalyptus oil by mouth.

Eucalyptus-oil-containing products, including lotions and creams,should not be applied to the face or nose of infants or children.

If you have asthma or any other pre-existing lung disease, avoid using inhalation products that contain eucalyptus oil, as it may cause sudden breathing problems.

If you have a history of seizures, avoid using eucalyptus-oil-containing lotions and creams or inhalation products.

If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels when taking oral products containing eucalyptus. Eucalyptus can interfere with blood sugar control and can increase the risk of blood sugar levels becoming too low.

If you will be getting elective surgery, stop using eucalyptus products least 2 weeks before the procedure.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and young children and infants should not use any form of eucalyptus.

Health Canada has issued a warning concerning the use of products containing eucalyptus oil. To read the full Health Canada warning, visit Health Canada's website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

Eucalyptus may interact with the following:

  • 5- fluorouracil lotion
  • amitriptyline
  • amphetamines
  • antidiabetes medications (e.g., insulin, metformin, glyburide)
  • diazepam
  • disulfiram
  • fexofenadine
  • haloperidol
  • itraconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • lovastatin
  • metronidazole
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; e.g., diclofenac, ibuprofen, celecoxib)
  • ondansetron
  • propranolol
  • proton pump inhibitors (e.g., lansoprazole, omeprazole)
  • sedating medications or herbs (e.g., benzodiazepines, barbiturates, German chamomile, lemon balm)
  • theophylline
  • verapamil
  • warfarin

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. MedlinePlus. Eucalyptus. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/700.html. Accessed May 24, 2016
  2. Natural Standard. Eucalyptus oil. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/natstandardcontent/eucalyptus-oil and http://www.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=eucalyptus.asp&title=Eucalyptus%20oil. Accessed May 24, 2016
  3. University of Maryland Medical Center. Eucalyptus. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/eucalyptus. Accessed May 24, 2016
  4. Health Canada. Safe use of health products containing camphor and/or eucalyptus oils. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/camphor-camphre-eng.php. Accessed May 24, 2016

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