Eucalyptus essential oil, derived from the Australian native eucalyptus tree, is one of the most popular essential oils.
The tree’s oval-shaped leaves are dried, crushed and distilled to release the essential oil, which is a colorless liquid with a strong sweet and woody scent. Eucalyptus oil is popular today worldwide, due to its medicinal properties.
Eucalyptus oil offers many medicinal benefits, owing to the organic compound known as cineole. This natural chemical has immune-boosting, antiseptic, disinfectant, expectorant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
The oil is used widely in vapor chest rubs, over-the-counter cough and cold medications, sore throat sprays and topical pain relievers.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you need to have a bottle of eucalyptus oil.
1. Treats Colds and Congestion
Eucalyptus oil has antiviral and antibacterial healing properties that help treat colds and congestion.
The oil and its major component, 1,8-cineole, have antimicrobial effects against many bacteria, viruses and fungi, according to an article published in the Alternative Medicine Review in 2010 (1).
Inhaling the strong aroma of eucalyptus oil helps loosen phlegm and alleviate congestion associated with a cold and the flu.
Plus, it works as an immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic and spasmolytic agent that helps treat a cold and its various symptoms.
- Add 10 to 15 drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water. Put a towel over your head like a tent and inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes. You can do it 2 or 3 times a day.
- At nighttime, put several drops of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser and breathe in the vapor all night long to help you sleep comfortably.
2. Controls a Cough
Eucalyptol, the active ingredient in eucalyptus essential oil, can help suppress a cough.
In fact, many over-the-counter cough medications have eucalyptus oil as one of their active ingredients. Vicks VapoRub, for example, contains about 1.2 percent eucalyptus oil along with other cough-suppressant ingredients.
Along with a cough, eucalyptus oil is beneficial for treating respiratory problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia and even tuberculosis.
A 2004 study published in the Chinese journal Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi found that eucalyptus oil has the anti-inflammatory effect on chronic bronchitis induced by lipopolysaccharide in rats and the inhibition effect on hypersecretion of airway mucus (2).
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a small tub of hot water. Make a tent over your head with a towel and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Repeat a few times a day.
- Alternatively, mix 2 drops each of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil and use it as chest rub 2 or 3 times a day.
3. Eases Joint and Muscle Pain
Eucalyptus oil can provide relief from joint and muscle pain, due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
A 1991 study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that eucalyptus oil produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up (3).
Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2003 found that new classes of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs can be prepared from components of the essential oils of the eucalyptus species (4).
- Mix 2 or 3 drops of eucalyptus oil into 2 tablespoons of lukewarm coconut oil.
- Apply the mixture on the affected areas and massage for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times daily.
4. Soothes Headaches
Eucalyptus essential oil is good for headaches, especially a sinus headache that is caused by inflammation of the sinuses.
It helps open the blocked sinuses, in turn relieving the headache. Also, it is an extremely effective analgesic, or pain-relieving agent.
A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that inhaling eucalyptus oil has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect (5).
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water. Lean over the bowl and make a tent over your head with a towel. Inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes. You can do it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, you can massage your forehead with a blend of coconut oil and a few drops of eucalyptus oil to reduce a headache.
5. Supports Oral Health
Eucalyptus oil is good for your oral health. Its antimicrobial nature can help treat cavities, gingivitis and even dental plaque. Its minty flavor also helps fight bad breath and keeps your mouth smelling fresh.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry concludes that essential oils like eucalyptus oil have the potential to be developed as preventive or therapeutic agents for various oral diseases, but further clinical trials are required to establish their safety and efficacy (6).
- Mix 2 drops of eucalyptus oil into a glass of lukewarm water.
- Use it as a mouthwash once daily.
Caution: Eucalyptus oil can be toxic when taken internally. Do not swallow this homemade mouthwash.
6. Kills Head Lice
You can use eucalyptus oil to get rid of head lice and an itchy scalp.
Being a natural insecticide, this oil can help kill the lice and their eggs. In fact, many commercially available head lice sprays actually contain essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil.
A 2017 study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology highlights the efficacy, safety and relative ease of the use of a eucalyptus oil and Leptospermum petersonii solution as a viable alternative in treating head lice (7).
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your regular shampoo. For instance, mix 3 milliliters of eucalyptus oil into 30 milliliters of regular shampoo.
- Use it to shampoo your hair.
- Cover your hair with a plastic shower cap for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cap, rinse your hair and dry it with towel.
- Comb your hair with a nit comb to remove the dead lice and eggs.
- Do it 2 or 3 times a week.
7. Heals Wounds
In Australia, it’s common practice to use eucalyptus leaves to treat wounds and prevent infections. In fact, keeping a bottle of eucalyptus oil in your first aid kit can be handy for treating minor wounds, cuts and skin abrasions.
The oil helps fight inflammation and promote healing. It also works as a natural pain reliever.
- Mix a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil into 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Dab it on the affected area a few times a day. You can rinse off the solution after 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can buy a cream or ointment that contains eucalyptus oil and apply it on the affected area as directed.
8. Cures Boils
When you’ve got a boil, you can treat it with eucalyptus oil.
Its antibacterial nature is effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause boils, thus fighting the root cause of the problem. It also aids the healing process and prevents further infection.
- Use a cotton swab to apply eucalyptus oil directly on the affected area. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
- Alternatively, prepare a mixture with 3 or 4 drops of eucalyptus oil, 1 teaspoon of powdered slippery elm and 1 tablespoon of water. Apply this paste on the affected area, let it dry and then rinse it off using lukewarm water. Do it twice daily.
9. Soothes an Itchy Scalp
Eucalyptus oil is beneficial for an itchy scalp, which can be due to dandruff or other scalp problems. The oil is rich in antifungal properties that help fight an infection and curb residue buildup on the scalp that can cause itchiness.
- Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to 4 cups of water. Pour this solution on your hair and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, shampoo and condition your hair as usual. Do it 2 or 3 times a week.
- Another option is to mix 4 or 5 drops of eucalyptus oil into 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Massage it into your hair and scalp. Wait 30 minutes, then wash your hair. Repeat 2 or 3 times a week.
10. Works as an Insect Repellent
Eucalyptus oil can be effectively used as a topical insect-repelling spray.
This strong-smelling essential oil works as natural insecticide and insect repellent to drive away flies and other insects from your home. This oil is safe for use around kids and pets, but be sure they do not ingest it.
- Pour ½ cup of warm water into a spray bottle. Add 20 to 25 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to it. Shake the bottle to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Use this spray as a homemade insect repellent.
- Another option is to put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser and place it in a room where you see insects.
- Like any other essential oil, always do a patch test before applying eucalyptus oil on the skin.
- Eucalyptus oil or products using the oil should not be applied to children under 6 years of age.
- Consult your doctor before using eucalyptus oil if you are prone to seizures, have liver or kidney disease, or low blood pressure.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use eucalyptus oil.
- Exercise caution when using eucalyptus oil for oral care, as it can be toxic when used in excess.
- Immune-Modifying and Antimicrobial Effects of Eucalyptus Oil and Simple Inhalation Devices. Alternative Medicine Review. http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/15/1/33.pdf.
- Effect of Eucalyptus globulus oil on lipopolysaccharide-induced chronic bronchitis and mucin hypersecretion in rats. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=15719688. Published February 2004.
- Effects of a topically applied counterirritant (Eucalyptamint) on cutaneous blood flow and on skin and muscle temperatures. A placebo-controlled study. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1994967. Published February 1991.
- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils of Eucalyptus. Journal of ethnopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=14611892. Published December 2003.
- Effect of Eucalyptus Oil Inhalation on Pain and Inflammatory Responses after Total Knee Replacement: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703330/. Published 2003.
- Essential oils, their therapeutic properties, and implication in dentistry: A review. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606594/. Published 2015.
- The efficacy of Australian essential oils for the treatment of head lice infestation in children: A randomised controlled trial. The Australasian journal of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28266704.