Complementary Medicine - Cam
Parts Used & Where Grown
Eucalyptus is an evergreen tree native to Australia but is cultivated worldwide. The plant’s leaves—and the oil that is steam-distilled from them—are used medicinally.1
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Eucalyptus was first used by Australian aborigines, who not only chewed the roots for water in the dry outback but used the leaves as a remedy for fevers. In the 1800s, crew members of an Australian freighter developed high fevers, but were able to successfully cure their condition using eucalyptus tea. Thus, eucalyptus became well known throughout Europe and the Mediterranean as the Australian fever tree. Early 19th century Eclectic physicians in the United States not only used eucalyptus oil to sterilize instruments and wounds, but recommended a steam inhalation of the vapor of its oil to help treat asthma , bronchitis , whooping cough, and emphysema.2
How It Works
How It Works
The major constituent in eucalyptus leaves is a volatile oil known as eucalyptol (1,8-cineol). In order to provide an effective expectorant and antiseptic action, the leaf oil should contain approximately 70–85% eucalyptol.17 Eucalyptus oil is said to function in a fashion similar to that of menthol by acting on receptors in the nasal mucosa, leading to a reduction in symptoms such as nasal congestion .18 In test tube studies, eucalyptus species have been shown to possess antibacterial actions against such organisms as Bacillus subtilis,19 as well as several strains of Streptococcus.20 These actions have not been researched in human clinical trials.
Peppermint (10 grams) and eucalyptus oil (5 grams) in combination, applied topically to the forehead and temples for three minutes with a small sponge, have been shown to be helpful as a muscle relaxant (but not for pain relief) in people with tension headaches.21 A eucalyptus oil extract containing 50% p-methane-3,8-diol (PMD) as the active ingredient has been shown to be effective in protecting human volunteers from various types of biting insects.22 On human forearms, it was determined that the eucalyptus extract was nearly as effective as a 20% solution of diethyltoluamine (used in many insect repellents) in repelling bites of the Anopheles mosquito (the insect that spreads malaria) for up to five hours. The eucalyptus extract was also effective at repelling flies (94%) and midges (100%) for up to six hours.
A preliminary study suggests the combination of eucalyptus and menthol as a nasal inhalant is helpful in cases of mild to moderate snoring.23 Also, in a double-blind trial, a eucalyptus-based rub was found helpful for warming muscles in athletes.24 This further suggests eucalyptus may help relieve minor muscle soreness when applied topically, though studies are needed to confirm this possibility.
How to Use It
Eucalyptus oil (0.05–0.2 ml per day) can be taken internally by adults.25 It should always be diluted in warm water before consuming. For local applications, 30 ml of the oil can be mixed in 500 ml of lukewarm water and applied topically as an insect repellent or used over the temporal areas of the forehead for tension headaches. As an inhalant, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to hot water or a vaporizer. Deeply inhale the steam vapor. For eucalyptus leaf preparations, an infusion of 2–3 grams of the chopped leaves may be boiled in 150 ml of water and taken two times per day. Eucalyptus oil needs to be used very cautiously since as little as 3.5 ml of the oil taken internally has proven fatal.26 It is best for people to discuss internal use with a qualified healthcare professional.
Warning: Eucalyptus oil needs to be used very cautiously since as little as 3.5 ml of the oil taken internally has proven fatal. It is best for individuals to discuss internal use with a qualified healthcare professional.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Although there are no known reports of drug interactions, the German Commission E monograph suggests that because eucalyptus oil may activate certain enzyme systems in the liver, it may potentially weaken or shorten the action of some medications, including pentobarbital, aminopyrine, and amphetamine.27 , 28
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Side effects from the internal use of eucalyptus can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea . Eucalyptus oil should not be used by infants and children under the age of two, especially near the face and nose, due to the risk of airway spasm and possible cessation of breathing.29 The oil may aggravate bronchial spasms in people with asthma and should not be taken internally by those with severe liver diseases and inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and kidney.30 , 31 Whole-body application of eucalyptus oil (double-distilled, containing 80 to 85% cineole oil) resulted in severe nervous system toxicity in a six-year-old girl.32 In a case report, a 4-year-old girl suffered a seizure after application of a eucalyptus oil preparation to the hair and scalp for the treatment of head lice.33 Eucalyptus should not be used in large amounts by people with low blood pressure as it may cause a further drop in blood pressure.34 The safety of eucalyptus oil has not been established in pregnant or nursing women.
1. Wren RC. Potter’s New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, England: C.W. Daniel Co., 1988, 110–1.
2. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 162–3.
3. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC press, 1994,192–4.
4. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al, eds. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 126–8.
5. Boyd EM. Expectorants and respiratory tract fluid. Pharmacol Rev 1954;6:521–42 [review].
6. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 162–3.
7. Kato T, Iijima H, Ishihara K, et al. Antibacterial effects of Listerine on oral bacteria. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll 1990;31:301–7.
8. Cosentino S, Tuberoso CI, Pisano B, et al. In-vitro antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of Sardinian Thymus essential oils. Lett Appl Microbiol 1999;29:130–5.
9. Petersson LG, Edwardsson S, Arends J. Antimicrobial effect of a dental varnish, in vitro. Swed Dent J 1992;16:183–9.
10. Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, et al. The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol 2000;88:170–5.
11. Serfaty R, Itic J. Comparative trial with natural herbal mouthwash versus chlorhexidine in gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1988;1:A34–7.
12. Dolara P, Corte B, Ghelardini C, et al. Local anaesthetic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesquiterpenes from myrrh. Planta Med 2000;66:356–8.
13. Hannah JJ, Johnson JD, Kuftinec MM. Long-term clinical evaluation of toothpaste and oral rinse containing sanguinaria extract in controlling plaque, gingival inflammation, and sulcular bleeding during orthodontic treatment. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1989;96:199–207.
14. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1998, 146–7.
15. Kehrl W, Sonnemann U, Dethlefsen U. Therapy for acute nonpurulent rhinosinusitis with cineole: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Laryngoscope2004;114:738–42.
16. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1998, 146–7.
17. Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicines. New York: Haworth Press, 1999, 123.
18. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146–7.
19. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 232–3.
20. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 108.
21. Gobel H, Schmidt G, Dowarski M, et al. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomed 1995;2:93–102.
22. Trigg JK, Hill N. Laboratory evaluation of a eucalyptus-based insect repellent against four biting arthropods. Phytother Res 1996;10:313–6. Reviewed by Yarnell E. Selected herbal research summaries QRNM 1997;116.
23. Ishizuka Y, Imamura Y, Tereshima K, et al. Effects of nasal inhalation capsule. Oto-Rhino-Laryngology Tokyo 1997;40:9–13.
24. Hong CZ, Shellock FG. Effects of a topically applied counter irritant (Eucalyptamint) on cutaneous blood flow and on skin and muscle temperature: A placebo controlled study. Am J Phys Med Rehab 1991;70:29–33.
25. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 108.
26. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 232–3.
27. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 127–8.
28. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Institute Publishers, 1997, 46–7.
29. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146–7.
30. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 127–8.
31. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Institute Publishers, 1997, 46–7.
32. Darben T, Cominos B, Lee CT. Topical eucalyptus oil poisoning. Australas J Dermatol 1998;39:265–7.
33. Waldman N. Seizure caused by dermal application of over-the counter eucalyptus oil head lice preparation. Clin Toxicol 2011;49:750–1.
34. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Institute Publishers, 1997, 46–7.
Last Review: 02-05-2013
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