Eucalyptus (generic name)
treats Decongestant/expectorant, Skin ulcers, Arthritis, Dental plaque/gingivitis, Headache, Tick repellant, Smoking cessation, and Asthma
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TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
AIDS, alertness, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, aromatherapy, astringent, athlete's foot, back pain, bronchitis, burns, cancer prevention, cancer treatment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cleaning solvent, croup, deodorant, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, ear infections, emphysema, fever, flavoring, fragrance, herpes, hookworm, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, influenza, insect repellant, leukemia, liver protection, muscle/joint pain (applied to the skin), muscle spasm, nerve pain, onychomycosis (fungal infection), pain, parasitic infection, ringworm, runny nose, scabies, shingles, sinusitis, skin infections in children, snoring, stimulant, strains/sprains (applied to the skin), tuberculosis, urinary difficulties, urinary tract infection, whooping cough, wound healing.
Adults (18 years and older)
Application of 5% to 20% in an oil-based formulation or 5% to 10% in an alcohol-based formulation has been used. In one study, topical lemon eucalyptus extract spray (Citriodiol®) was applied daily for two weeks to the lower extremities to reduce tick attachment.
Eucalyptus oil should be taken with caution, since small amounts of oil taken by mouth have resulted in severe and deadly reactions. For eucalyptus oil, doses of 0.05 to 0.2 milliliter or 0.3 to 0.6 gram daily have been used traditionally, but may cause toxic side effects. For infusions prepared with eucalyptus leaf, a quantity of 2 to 3 grams of eucalyptus leaf in 150 milliliters of water, three times a day, has been used traditionally, but may result in toxic side effects.
Tincture with 5% to 10% eucalyptus oil or a few drops placed into a vaporizer as an inhalant have been used.
Eucalyptol (1,8-cineole) is a major chemical in eucalyptus oil, and it is used in some commercially sold mouthwashes.
Children (younger than 18 years)
Severe side effects have been reported in children after small doses of eucalyptus have been taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Eucalyptus is not recommended for use by infants and young children, especially near the face and nose.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Case reports describe allergic rash after exposure to eucalyptus oil, either alone or as an ingredient in creams. One child developed a rash after taking eucalyptus oil by mouth. Reports also describe hives after exposure to eucalyptus pollen.
An herbal survey in asthmatic patients found 12% of asthmatic patients using eucalyptus. Ironically, eucalyptus may cause allergic reactions and the exacerbation of asthma. Worsening of rhinoconjunctivitis and vocal cord dysfunction within minutes of exposure to eucalyptus has been reported.
Side Effects and Warnings
Severe and potentially deadly side effects are reported with the use of eucalyptus oil by mouth in children and adults. These include slowing of the brain and central nervous system, drowsiness, seizures, and coma. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery. Anecdotal reports suggest that serious side effects can develop with as little as one teaspoon taken by mouth. Reports also suggest that inhaled eucalyptus products or bathtub exposure can cause symptoms. Avoid eucalyptus products in infants and young children, as reports describe severe reactions after exposure by mouth or by application to the skin. Ingestion by children of vaporizer formulas containing eucalyptus has been reported.
Symptoms reported with eucalyptus oil taken by mouth include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle weakness, constricted pupils, a feeling of suffocation or difficulty breathing, wheezing, cough, blue discoloration of the lips or skin, delirium, or convulsions. Drowsiness, hyperactivity, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, slurred speech, fever, pneumonia, and headache have also been reported. Case reports describe several abnormalities in heart function after eucalyptus oil is taken by mouth, including abnormal rhythms, loss of heartbeat, low blood pressure, and complete disruption of the heart and circulation. Individuals with seizure disorders, heart disease, disorders of the stomach or intestines, or lung disease should use caution.
Published reports describe "attacks" in patients with acute intermittent porphyria (AIP), an inherited disorder affecting the liver and blood. Individuals with AIP should avoid eucalyptus products. Other case reports mention symptoms in individuals who have kidney or liver disease or who are taking other medications that are processed by the liver. Eucalyptus is reported to lower blood sugar in diabetic animals, although reliable human studies are not available in this area. Nonetheless, caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
A strain of bacteria found on eucalyptus may cause infection. Worsening of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis has been reported.
Cardiovascular collapse and multi-organ failure has been reported following a massive ingestion of mouthwash containing phenolic compounds (eucalyptol, menthol, thymol).
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Due to the known side effects of eucalyptus, and the unknown effects during pregnancy or breastfeeding, eucalyptus should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women.