What is Eucalyptus Essential Oil?
Eucalyptus essential oil is extracted from the leaf of the eucalyptus tree which is a native of Australia famed for being the koala bears’ primary source of food.
However, the use of the plant for medicinal purposes dates back centuries, and it was used by the Aborigines for various purposes including healing wounds.
One story tells of an early British settler in Australia whose thumb was almost severed by a blow from an ax. The settler’s father, who had been schooled in local Aboriginal medicine, ensured that the wound was bound in eucalyptus leaves after being sutured.
A surgeon who saw the patient later remarked that he was amazed at the speed of healing and the lack of any infection.
Stories like this spread rapidly throughout the country prompting pharmacists to begin thinking seriously about the value of eucalyptus. This led to the first eucalyptus oil being commercially produced in 1852.
These days eucalyptus essential oil is used for a host of health issues from coughs and chest infections to arthritis and muscle pain.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil Facts
- Eucalyptus essential oil is derived by steam distillation from the leaves of the Eucalyptus Radiata and Eucalyptus Globulus.
- Eucalyptus belongs to the family Myrtaceae.
- Eucalyptus essential oil has a fresh, clean and slightly woodsy aroma.
- Eucalyptus oil blends well with a number of oils including bergamot, cedarwood, peppermint, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, thyme, juniper, and lemongrass essential oils.
- To date, over 1000 studies have been published into the medical benefits of eucalyptus essential oil and its major component 1,8-cineole.
- Eucalyptus contains the highest known quantities of 1,8-cineole but the compound has also been found in smaller amounts in other plants including helichrysum, cannabis, ginger, and peppermint.
Compounds and Medicinal Properties
The primary compounds differ slightly depending on whether the essential oil is derived from Eucalyptus radiata or Eucalyptus globulus.
These days most of the eucalyptus essential oil on the market is derived from Eucalyptus globulus and the vast majority of studies published have used this variety of the oil.
Eucalyptus Oil composition
• 1,8-Cineole : 33.6%–83.9%
• Alpha-pinene : 4.5%–14.2%
• D-Limonene : 0.4%–10.1%
• Beta-Pinene : 0.3%–5.2%
• Para-Cymene : 0.0%–5.1%
• 1,8-Cineole : 22.4%–74.3%
• Alpha-Terpineol : 0.0%–15.2%
• Alpha-pinene : 0.2%–11.9%
• Trans-Pinocarveol : 0.0%–4.8%
• Limonene : 0.5%–4.5%
Eucalyptus oil has a very wide range of therapeutic properties. These include analgesic, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antispasmodic decongestant, diuretic, expectorant and nervine properties.
The Health Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Over the past few decades, there have been hundreds of studies into the health benefits of eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus oil has a comprehensive range of medicinal uses from treating colds and coughs to nourishing the hair and skin.
Read on to find out what this versatile oil can do for your health and how to use it.
Colds and Congestion
Because it contains high amounts of eucalyptol or 1,8-cineole, eucalyptus oil is very effective in treating colds, flu, and congestion.
There is a good chance that you have already used eucalyptus oil since it is used as an ingredient in Vicks VapoRub.
According to research, 1,8-cineole has excellent antimicrobial effects that work against many types of bacteria, virus, and fungi. The same study also states that it has excellent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, spasmolytic and antioxidant effects.
This study which was published in 2010 suggested that inhalation of the vapors was the best way to treat breathing issues and relieve congestion. Inhalation is a simple and effective way to relieve congestion.
It helps loosen phlegm and mucus in the airways and can relieve congestion issues associated with colds, flu and even more severe issues like bronchitis. (1)
How to Use Eucalyptus for Congestion and Colds
- Diffuser: If you have a diffuser, simply add a few drops of your eucalyptus oil to the device and place it near your bed. You can inhale the soothing vapors through the night.
- Steam Inhalation: Fill a sink or a bowl with very hot water and add around 10 drops of your essential oil. Cover your head and shoulders with a towel, lean over the water and inhale for 5 minutes or as long as you can tolerate.
As well as clearing up congestion, eucalyptus oil is also very effective in treating coughs whatever their cause. As we have already mentioned, eucalyptus oil helps to loosen and thin out mucus and phlegm meaning that you can cough it up more easily.
One study published in 2004 looked at the effects of eucalyptus essential oil on bronchitis in rats. The researchers found that the oil had anti-inflammatory effects which helped treat chronic bronchitis. (2)
How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Coughs
- Inhalation: You can inhale the oil by following the instructions for congestion above.
- Topical Application: You can make your own topical rub using eucalyptus oil, peppermint essential oil and a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil. Dilute 15 drops of eucalyptus oil and the same amount of peppermint essential oil in half a cup of carrier oil. Mix well and rub it into your chest for instant cough relief. You can use this treatment several times a day for as long as necessary.
Cold sores are rarely serious, but they can be uncomfortable, painful and a little embarrassing. Thankfully, research suggests that eucalyptus oil, as well as several other essential oils, may be effective against these sores. Several commercial balms to treat cold sores already contain eucalyptus essential oil but you can easily make your own remedy at home.
According to studies, eucalyptus essential oil is effective against the herpes simplex virus which is responsible for causing cold sores. One study published in 2004 found that a combination of eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils were especially effective. (3)
How to Treat Cold Sores
Combine a drop of eucalyptus essential oil, a drop of tea tree essential oil and 3 drops of coconut oil or another suitable carrier oil. Mix well and apply it to your cold sore with a cotton swab several times a day. The treatment will bring instant relief and will soon help get rid of your sore.
Arthritis and Joint Pain
For the millions of people suffering from joint pain caused by arthritis or rheumatism, a number of essential oils can provide wonderful relief.
Because of its outstanding anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, eucalyptus essential oil is an excellent natural treatment for anybody suffering from joint issues and painful conditions like arthritis or gout.
One study published in 2013 set out to analyze the effects of inhaling eucalyptus oil in patients who had undergone a total knee replacement.
The study found that inhaling eucalyptus essential oil had a positive effect on pain and also blood pressure following surgery. (4)
How to Use Eucalyptus Essential Oil for Arthritis
While simply inhaling eucalyptus oil can on your pain and inflammation, applying it topically can have an even greater effect and many commercial preparations include eucalyptus oil in their remedies for joint pain.
Make your own topical massage rub with eucalyptus oil combined with peppermint essential oil and a carrier oil. Peppermint essential oil also has excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help relieve your pain and loosen up your joints and combines very well with eucalyptus.
Add 10 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oil to 5 teaspoons of a carrier oil like coconut or moringa.
Studies have shown that Moringa oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties in its own right making it our recommended choice of carrier oil for joint pain. Mix the ingredients well and massage into your painful joints several times each day to ensure natural pain relief.
Given that eucalyptus oil has the properties to treat joint pain, it is unsurprising that it can also be used to treat sore and aching muscles.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties found in eucalyptus oil make it an excellent choice for treating muscle pain caused by injury, wear and tear or a hard workout session.
Eucalyptus oil also has antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects meaning it can help relax the muscles and improve blood circulation to your muscles.
How you can use Eucalyptus Oil for Muscle Pain
- Massage: Combine a few drops of eucalyptus oil with an equal amount of peppermint oil and a good quality carrier oil. Simply massage the finished oil into your sore muscles two or three times each day.
- Bath Soak: Add 10 to 20 drops of your oil to a very hot bath, jump in and let the oils absorb into your body.
Eucalyptus essential oil is a very effective natural remedy for fevers. It helps to reduce body temperature because of its anti-inflammatory actions and its vasodilator properties.
A vasodilator helps widen the blood vessels allowing blood to circulate more freely. This has a number of health benefits including the ability to reduce fever.
How to use Eucalyptus Oil for Fevers
- Compress : You can make a compress with eucalyptus oil that you can apply to your whole body or your forehead during your fever.
For a body compress, add 10 drops of your oil to two cups of water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture then wrap them around your body.
To make a forehead compress, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a cup of cold water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and apply it to your forehead.
- Fever Rub : Add five drops of eucalyptus essential oil to two teaspoons of a carrier oil and massage the mixture into your neck, temples and feet.
A number of studies have demonstrated that eucalyptus oil is a powerful natural weapon against sinusitis and sinus infections. (5) (6)
Eucalyptus essential oil is effective against sinus conditions whether caused by bacterial infection or allergy because of its chemical constituents like 1,8- cineole and its excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
We have already mentioned that it does a great job of clearing out the airways and freeing up mucous allowing you to breathe more comfortably and these actions make it a powerful ally against sinusitis.
Using Eucalyptus Oil for a Sinus Infections
You can inhale your eucalyptus oil directly from the bottle but it is more effective to make a steam inhalation like the one described earlier in the article.
According to research, eucalyptus essential oil may be able to help people with asthma to overcome many of the familiar symptoms.
These include shortness of breath, coughing, and tightness in the chest.
People with asthma experience inflammation in the walls of the airways causing them to become more narrow and often producing more mucous.
Eucalyptus oil is a natural vasodilator meaning that it can help widen and loosen the blood vessels allowing more oxygen to reach the lungs.
It also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and helps expel mucous providing additional relief to people with asthma.
One double-blind study showed that 1,8-cineole, the major component in eucalyptus essential oil, helped stimulate anti-inflammatory actions in the treatment of patients bronchial asthma. (7)
Please note that asthma is a serious condition, and asthma attacks are very dangerous. Please consult your doctor before using any natural treatments.
Immune System Boost
A robust immune system is key to overall good health both physically and emotionally.
Fortunately, research suggests that eucalyptus oil can help boost the immune system meaning you are less likely to pick up annoying illnesses like colds and other more serious conditions.
One study published in 2008 demonstrated that eucalyptus oil helped boost the immune system by stimulating the immune response at a cellular level. (8)
Various other studies have demonstrated that eucalyptus oil can stimulate the actions of white blood cells against foreign microbes which helps boost immunity. (9)
How to Boost your Immune System with Eucalyptus oil
It is important never to take eucalyptus oil internally. Essential oils like eucalyptus are powerful and can be harmful if they are consumed.
The best way to give your immune system a boost is by inhaling your essential oil. You can either do this directly, with a diffuser or by making a steam infusion.
A steam infusion is a great way to prevent symptoms taking hold if you feel a cold or flu coming on.
Stress and Anxiety
Many people battle with the debilitating effects of stress or anxiety and many turn to powerful pharmaceutical drugs as a treatment.
Unfortunately, many of these medications are not always effective, and they also come with the risk of dependency and harmful side effects.
More and more people are looking to nature to help overcome their emotional issues, and a number of essential oils are extremely effective.
How to Use Eucalyptus oil to Relieve Stress
- Direct Inhalation: If you are feeling anxious or stressed, then inhaling your oil directly out of the bottle can help as can inhaling it from the palms of your hands.
- Diffuse: Diffusing your eucalyptus oil at home or in the office is a great way to calm the nerves and help you relax.
- Topical Application: Simply apply a few drops of your oil to your temples, wrists, and underside of your feet.
For the Skin
While it may not be best-known for its ability to treat the skin, eucalyptus oil possesses many of the properties that can help nourish the skin, heal wounds and treat chronic skin conditions like acne.
It has excellent antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which make it ideal for a range of skin issues including skin infections, cuts, scrapes, and bites.
Eucalyptus oil was traditionally used to treat wounds and help stave off infection. According to the University of Maryland, eucalyptus oil has many skin benefits including the treatment of sores, boils, and wounds.
How to Use Eucalyptus Oil on your Skin
- As a moisturizer: Combine a few drops of your eucalyptus oil with a skin-friendly carrier oil like coconut or jojoba. Massage into your skin as part of your daily skin treatment regime. It will help to soften the skin while its antioxidant activities will help you look younger.
- As a sunscreen: Eucalyptus oil combined with olive oil makes a great natural sunscreen. Eucalyptus has a sun protection factor of 3 while olive oil has an SPF8.
- To treat wounds and cuts: Apply some diluted eucalyptus oil to your minor wounds, cuts, and scrapes. Its antibacterial and antiseptic properties will help cleanse your wound and keep infection at bay.
- For acne: Add a drop of eucalyptus oil to a few drops of clean water. Use a cotton ball or swab to apply the oil mixture to your acne and pimples.
Skin and Nail Fungus
Eucalyptus essential oil also has powerful anti-fungal properties making it an excellent natural option for treating a range of fungal infections.
Common fungal infections include athlete’s foot, jock itch, thrush and onychomycosis which affects the nails.
A study published in 2015 was conducted to analyze the effects of eucalyptus oil on toenail fungus.
The results were impressive leading researchers to suggest that eucalyptus oil may represent a cheap and safe alternative to prescription anti-fungal medications. (10)
Using Eucalyptus oil to Treat a Fungal Infection
There are several ways of using eucalyptus essential oil depending on what type of fungal infection you are dealing with :
- Foot bath for athlete’s foot: Fill a bowl with warm water and add a teaspoon of your eucalyptus oil and half a cup of Epsom salts. Soak your feet in the solution for 20 minutes or so twice each day.
- For nail infections: Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a teaspoon of coconut or olive oil. Dip a cotton ball in the solution and apply it to your affected nails several times each day.
Bad Breath and Oral Health
There is little more embarrassing than being told that your breath stinks. For many people, halitosis is the result of bad oral hygiene or smoking or diet, but others are simply unfortunate.
Whatever the reason for your bad breath, eucalyptus oil has all the properties that can freshen it up and help keep oral infections at bay.
According to research 1,8-cineole has excellent antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can destroy the bacteria responsible for halitosis. Indeed, eucalyptus oil is often used as an ingredient in commercial mouthwashes or toothpaste.
As well as helping freshen up your breath, eucalyptus oil may also help prevent and treat gum disease and the build-up of plaque on your teeth.
One study published in 2010 found that gum infused with eucalyptus oil helped to reduce halitosis. Using the oil as part of a mouthwash or home-made toothpaste may prove even more effective than the gum used in the study. (11)
How to Use Eucalyptus essential oil for Oral Health
- Mouthwash: Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and peppermint oil to a glass of water and use it to wash out your mouth. Be careful not to ingest any of the oil.
- Toothpaste: Just add a drop or two of eucalyptus essential oil to your toothbrush then brush as usual.
For your Hair and Scalp
Eucalyptus essential oil is an excellent natural treatment for your hair. It can be combined with coconut oil or your regular shampoo to help treat your and nourish your hair and your scalp.
Eucalyptus oil can help stimulate blood flow to your hair follicles allowing your hair to grow healthy and strong.
It also has excellent anti-fungal properties meaning it can help treat dandruff and other scalp disorders. If you have a dry or itchy scalp, why not give this wonderful natural remedy a go?
How to use Eucalyptus essential oil on your Hair and Scalp
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil. Massage the mixture thoroughly into your hair and scalp. Leave for a while then wash it off with your regular shampoo.
- Simply add 5 or so drops of your eucalyptus oil to your regular shampoo and wash as normal.
Many essential oils make for excellent, natural insect repellents to keep the mosquitoes, ants and other creepy crawlies away from your home.
They make for a safe and effective, natural alternative to commercial insect repellents which usually contain potentially harmful chemicals like DEET.
How to use Eucalyptus essential oil to Repel Bugs
- Homemade bug spray: Fill a spray bottle with water and add around 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil. Spray this mixture liberally around the home and on your clothing and bed linen to keep the bugs away.
- Cotton ball soak: Soak some cotton balls in your eucalyptus oil and then place them in areas of the home that are infested with bugs like ants or silverfish.
Deodorant and Other Home Uses
As well as all its fantastic health benefits, you can put eucalyptus oil to great use around the home.
Because of its remarkable antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, eucalyptus oil can work wonders around the home for cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing.
You can use it in the kitchen and bathroom and any other areas of the home prone to grime, dirt and foul smells.
There are several ways to incorporate eucalyptus oil to help with cleaning around the house. It can be used added to a spray bottle of water and used to clean grime, mold, and bacteria.
If you spray or diffuse it around the home, it helps to remove lingering odors from cooking or cigarette smoke.
Recent Research into Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil and its main active ingredient, 1,8-cineole have been very well-studied over the past few decades.
Research into its health effects is extremely positive covering a very broad range of conditions.
Over the last couple of years, studies have confirmed many of its uses and uncovered more potential health benefits.
They include the following:
Effects Against Staphylococcus aureus
According to many experts, antibacterial resistance poses one of the most serious threats to public health. As a result, research is looking towards nature as an alternative to traditional antibiotics.
This study published in 2018 tested the effects of eucalyptus globulus oil against twenty strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.
The researchers found that eucalyptus essential oil was very effective against this killer bacterial strain and also found that eucalyptus oil was more effective than 1,8-cineole alone. (12)
Effects Against airborne fungus
Another study published in 2018 evaluated the effects of several essential oils against fungus in the air.
They found that all the essential oils tested including eucalyptus oil were effective in reducing fungal growth in the air. While eucalyptus was effective, clove essential oil was found to be the most efficacious of all the oils tested.
The researchers stated that all the oils were more effective than many other traditional cleaning products such as vinegar. (13)
Millions worldwide suffer from chronic wounds resulting from various conditions including leg ulcers and diabetes.
A review of the studies done to date was published last year to summarize the evidence of the efficacy of eucalyptus essential oil to treat wounds.
The researchers found that there was a large body of quality evidence to suggest that eucalyptus oil was an effective, natural wound healer especially with regards to chronic wounds where it is important to treat inflammation and infection. (14)
Side Effects and Precautions
Essential oils like eucalyptus are extremely beneficial to your health, but it is important to treat them with respect and use them with care.
- Never ingest eucalyptus essential oil and take care not to swallow any when using it as an ingredient for an oral wash.
- Dilute your eucalyptus oil in a suitable carrier oil before applying it to your skin. Even after diluting the oil, you should perform a patch test on a discrete area of skin to make sure you are not allergic to it.
- Eucalyptus essential oil may interact with diabetic and blood pressure medications. Make sure you speak to your doctor if you are concerned.
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers should speak with their health care expert before using eucalyptus essential oil.
Essential Oil Composition Sources
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.