There are many uses for eucalyptus oil. This essential oil has a long and well-documented use as an antibacterial agent, insect repellent and more.
The Many Uses for Eucalyptus Oil
Distilled from the eucalyptus tree native to Asia, eucalyptus oil has a strong scent that's most familiar to people in old-time remedies for coughs, colds and bronchitis. It's also included in products such as Listerine. The active ingredient in eucalyptus is a chemical called cineole. Oils are extracted from the leaves using steam distillation and are sold as aromatherapy oils or essential oils.
When used properly, eucalyptus oil's antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties provide relief from common ailments. Many products are on the market which incorporate this oil.
Bronchitis and Upper Respiratory Problems
Eucalyptus oil is frequently one of several ingredients found in ointments and rubs or inhalants for sinus problems, coughs, colds, bronchitis and upper respiratory problems. It acts like an antibacterial agent and when inhaled, can often knock out bacterial infections in the upper respiratory tract. Keep in mind that it has no effect on viruses; bacteria and virus are two different microorganisms, and while an inhalant with eucalyptus oil may clear your sinuses when you're battling a cold, the common cold is caused by a virus. An antibacterial agent kills bacteria, but not viruses.
Many topical ointments containing eucalyptus oil are also sold as liniments or pain relieving gels. Such liniments are used on people as well as by veterinarians on animals. It's often combined with other herbs for increased pain relief.
New toothpastes and mouthwashes containing eucalyptus promise consumers that its antibacterial properties work wonders for oral hygiene, too. Always use such products according to the package directions, since too much eucalyptus oil is poisonous. Never swallow mouthwashes or toothpaste containing it.
Some research suggests that inhalants which include eucalyptus oil can help clear the airways in people suffering from asthma. Not enough research exists to prove or disprove this use, and asthma sufferers are urged to talk to their doctors before using this or any other remedy.
There are many commercial products on the market, including one called Citriodiol®, that include eucalyptus oil as a tick repellent. Early evidence suggests it does repel ticks. Ticks carry many diseases, including Lyme Disease and other serious illnesses, but conventional tick repellents often contain harsh chemicals.
In addition to the above list of the many uses for eucalyptus oil, some holistic health experts tout its benefits as a pain reliever for arthritis and fibromyalgia and as a potent smoking cessation aid. There's not enough research to date to list it as something to help people stop smoking, but early evidence indicates promising use as a pain reliever.
Side Effects and Contraindications
According to the National Institute of Health, severe reactions, allergies and even accidental poisoning has occurred when eucalyptus oil is ingested. If you decide to purchase a commercial product that includes eucalyptus oil, follow package directions carefully.
One of the peculiar side effects of eucalyptus oil taken by mouth is that overuse can cause the brain to slow down, causing drowsiness, seizures, and coma. Other side effects indicating an overdose of eucalyptus oil include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constricted pupils, and difficulty walking. Take such symptoms seriously and head to the emergency room if you experience them. People with liver and kidney problems shouldn't use eucalyptus oil. People with a rare liver and blood disorder called AIP should also not use this oil, as rare complications, side effects and serious problems have been reported when using this product.
Children should not use eucalyptus oil, especially children under age six. Pregnant and breastfeeding woman should also avoid it.