The Health Benefits Of Eucalyptus Oil, According To An Herbalist

One whiff of eucalyptus oil can quickly wake up your sinuses. Pop a few drops into your oil diffuser and you'll immediately feel its effects. Its woody, citrus scent comes from eucalyptus trees, which are native to Australia where koala bears eat them as their main source of food. Eucalyptus trees used for medicinal purposes can grow up to 200 feet high, and their dark green leaves can be up to a foot long, per Mount Sinai. The eucalyptus stems and leaves are distilled to transform them into essential oils. The Aborigines used eucalyptus oil in their medicines, and teas from the eucalyptus leaves treated fevers. Eucalyptus oil is registered as an insecticide in the United States, so you can use it to fend off pesky mosquitoes. 

These days you can find eucalyptus oil in many over-the-counter cough medicines and muscle rubs. Dr. Jenelle Kim, 9th-generation master herbalist, Doctor of Chinese Medicine, and founder and formulator of JBK Wellness Labs spoke to Health Digest to inform us of several ways eucalyptus oils can benefit our health.

"Eucalyptus oil has a wide range of potential health benefits, thanks to its natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant properties," Kim says.

How eucalyptus oil can improve your health

You know how when you feel a cold coming on, your throat becomes tight and all congested? Eucalyptus oil can help with your respiratory health. "Eucalyptus oil is a natural decongestant and can help to clear the airways and ease symptoms of respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis," Dr. Kim says. She suggests using eucalyptus oil in aromatherapy or inhaling it with steam. You can also get respiratory relief by applying it to your chest or back.

Whether you're dealing with chronic muscle aches or post-workout soreness, Kim says eucalyptus essential oil's natural compounds can provide pain relief. Apply eucalyptus oil directly on those achy muscles and joints. It also helps with headaches and migraines.

Eucalyptus oil is a great addition to any daily skincare routine for its natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Kim says it can help treat skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as skin irritations and inflammation.

Dr. Kim says eucalyptus oil is also a great choice for keeping your immune system healthy. "Eucalyptus oil contains natural compounds that have antimicrobial properties, making it useful for boosting the immune system and fighting off infections," Kim explains. She suggests either inhaling the essential oil or using it topically to help your body's natural defenses.

How to get the most out of eucalyptus oil

For you to reap the health benefits of eucalyptus oil, Dr. Kim offers different methods to incorporate it into your routine. If you want to inhale essential oil for its respiratory benefits, add it to a diffuser, steam inhaler, or a bowl of hot water. This also promotes relaxation.

To soothe muscle and joint pain or help skin conditions, Kim says it's best not to apply eucalyptus oil directly onto the skin because it can be irritating or toxic at its full strength. "Eucalyptus oil can be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and applied directly to the skin." Kim also suggests doing a patch test if you're trying eucalyptus oil for the first time, and be sure to seek medical attention if you have an adverse reaction.

Kim says that you can include eucalyptus oil into some of your everyday products. "Eucalyptus oil can be added to shampoos, conditioners, and body washes for a refreshing and invigorating experience," she says. "It can also be added to homemade toothpaste or mouthwash to promote oral health." You can also add eucalyptus oil to cleaning solutions to help kill bacteria, viruses, and other germs. No need to dilute it for this purpose — you can use it at full strength on surfaces.

When to avoid using eucalyptus oil

Even though eucalyptus oil has great benefits for your health, there are some people who should avoid it, Dr. Kim says. Children under 10 shouldn't use eucalyptus essential oil or be around it, because it can cause respiratory problems for some in this age group. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid eucalyptus oil, as it can cause uterine contractions and possibly harm the fetus or infant.

You should avoid eucalyptus oil if you have asthma because it can trigger an attack. People with epilepsy might have seizures if they use eucalyptus oil. If you have liver or kidney disease, avoid eucalyptus oil because it can be toxic to your system.

Eucalyptus oil can feel strong on the skin, so people with sensitive skin could have skin irritation while using eucalyptus oil. Therefore, Kim suggests those folks use eucalyptus oil with caution or avoiding it. Kim adds that if you're using eucalyptus oil for any health benefit that you should talk to your doctor first, particularly if you have a medical condition or are taking medications.