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Eucalyptus

What is it?

Eucalyptus is a tree. The dried leaves and oil are used to make medicine.

People use eucalyptus for many conditions including asthma, bronchitis, plaque and gingivitis, head lice and many others, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for EUCALYPTUS are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Early research shows that eucalyptol, a chemical found in eucalyptus oil, might be able to break up mucous in people with asthma. Some people with severe asthma have been able to lower their dosage of steroid medications if they take eucalyptol. But don't try this without your healthcare provider's advice and monitoring.
  • Bronchitis. Some research shows that taking a specific combination product containing eucalyptol, a chemical found in eucalyptus oil, and extracts of pine and lime by mouth for at least 2 weeks improves symptoms and reduces flare-ups in people with bronchitis.
  • Dental plaque. Early research shows that chewing gum containing 0.3% to 0.6% eucalyptus extract can reduce dental plaque in some people.
  • Gingivitis. Early research shows that chewing gum containing 0.4% to 0.6% eucalyptus extract can improve gingivitis in some people.
  • Bad breath. Early research shows that chewing gum containing 0.4% to 0.6% eucalyptus extract can improve bad breath in some people.
  • Head lice. Early research shows that applying eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil does not get rid of head lice as effectively as applying tea tree oil and lavender oil or benzyl alcohol, mineral oil, and triethanolamine.
  • Headache. Early research shows that applying a combination product containing eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and ethanol to the head does not reduce pain in people with headaches. However, the product might help people with headaches relax and think better.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Wounds.
  • Burns.
  • Ulcers.
  • Acne.
  • Bleeding gums.
  • Bladder diseases.
  • Diabetes.
  • Fever.
  • Flu.
  • Liver and gallbladder problems.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of eucalyptus for these uses.

How does it work?

Eucalyptus leaf contains chemicals that might help control blood sugar. It also contains chemicals that might have activity against bacteria and fungi. Eucalyptus oil contains chemicals that might help pain and inflammation. It might also block chemicals that cause asthma.

Are there safety concerns?

Eucalyptus leaf isLIKELY SAFE when consumed in the small amounts found in foods. There isn't enough information to know if supplements that contain larger amounts of eucalyptus leaf are safe when taken by mouth.

Eucalyptol, a chemical that is found in eucalyptus oil, is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks.

Eucalyptus oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied directly to the skin without being diluted.

Eucalyptus oil is LIKELY UNSAFE when it is taken by mouth without first being diluted. Taking 3.5 mL of undiluted oil can be fatal. Signs of eucalyptus poisoning might include stomach pain and burning, dizziness, muscle weakness, small eye pupils, feelings of suffocation, and some others. Eucalyptus oil can also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Eucalyptus is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when consumed in food amounts. But don't use eucalyptus oil. Not enough is known about safety during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Children: Eucalyptus oil is LIKELY UNSAFE for children. It should not be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Not much is known about the safety of using eucalyptus leaves in children. It's best to avoid use in amounts larger than food amounts.

Cross-Allergenicity: Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil contain many of the same compounds. People who are allergic to eucalyptus oil might also be allergic to tea tree oil or other essential oils.

Diabetes: Early research suggests eucalyptus leaf might lower blood sugar. There is concern that using eucalyptus while taking medications for diabetes might lower blood sugar too much. Blood sugar levels should be monitored closely.

Surgery: Since eucalyptus might affect blood sugar levels, there is concern that it might make blood sugar control difficult during and after surgery. Stop using eucalyptus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Aminopyrine
Inhaling eucalyptol, a chemical found in eucalyptus oil, might reduce the level of aminopyrine in the blood. In theory, the effectiveness of aminopyrine may be reduced in people who inhale eucalyptol.
Amphetamines
Inhaling eucalyptol, a chemical found in eucalyptus oil, might reduce the levels of amphetamines in the blood. In theory, the effectiveness of amphetamines may be reduced in people who inhale eucalyptol.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Eucalyptus oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking eucalyptus oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking eucalyptus oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Eucalyptus oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking eucalyptus oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking eucalyptus oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Eucalyptus oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking eucalyptus oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking eucalyptus oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Eucalyptus oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking eucalyptus oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking eucalyptus oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Eucalyptus leaf extract might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking eucalyptus leaf extract along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
Inhaling eucalyptol, a chemical found in eucalyptus oil, might reduce the amount of pentobarbital that reaches the brain. In theory, the effectiveness of pentobarbital may be reduced in people who inhale eucalyptol.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Eucalyptus leaf might lower blood sugar. Using it with other herbs and supplements that have this same effect might increase the risk of low blood sugar in some people. Some of these products include alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, carqueja, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, jambolan, Panax ginseng, prickly pear cactus, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.
Herbs that contain hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs)
Eucalyptus can increase the toxicity of herbs that contain hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs can damage the liver. Herbs containing hepatotoxic PAs include alkanna, boneset, borage, butterbur, coltsfoot, comfrey, forget-me-not, gravel root, hemp agrimony, and hound's tongue; and the Senecio species plants dusty miller, groundsel, golden ragwort, and tansy ragwort.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of eucalyptus depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for eucalyptus. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Blue Gum, Blue Mallee, Blue Mallee Oil, Eucalipto, Eucalypti Folium, Eucalyptol, Eucalyptol Oil, Eucalyptus blatter, Eucalyptus bicostata, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Eucalyptus fructicetorum, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus Leaf, Eucalyptus odorata, Eucalyptus Oil, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus smithii, Fever Tree, Fieberbaumblatter, Gully Gum, Gully Gum Oil, Gum Tree, Huile Essentielle d'Eucalyptus, Huile d'Eucalyptol, Huile d'Eucalyptus, Red Gum, Stringy Bark Tree, Sugandhapatra, Tailapatra, Tasmanian Blue Gum.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 11/29/2017