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Eucalyptus Oil: Uses, Benefits, Side effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


Aromatic herbs are being widely used, especially in rural areas. Eucalyptus is one such aromatic oil that has seen an increase in its use in developing countries. 

Eucalyptus oil, also known as nilgiri oil, is an essential oil derived from the distillation of fresh leaves of Eucalyptus globulus and other species like E. polybractea, E. smithii, and E. viminalis, belonging to the family Myrtaceae. This tall evergreen tree is native to Tasmania and Australia. Further, it is found in Spain, the United States, Brazil, Portugal, North and South Africa, France, Southern Europe, and India. In India, it is majorly cultivated in Punjab and Haryana. 

It is a straw-coloured or colourless fluid with a characteristic smell that may be described as camphor-like and pungent and its taste is also said to be camphoraceous, followed by a cooling sensation. Let’s read about eucalyptus oil’s benefits and side effects.1 

Nutritional Value of Eucalyptus Oil: 

Eucalyptus oil is known for its wide variety of bioactive compounds. They are enlisted below: 

Chemical constituent  Percentage 
1,8- eucalyptus  72.71% 
α-terpine 2.54% 
Terpiene-4-ol 0.34% 
Linalool  0.24% 
α-eudesmol 0.39% 
(-)-globulol 2.77% 
Epilobulol 0.44% 
α -terpineol acetate 3.1% 
Geranyl acetate  0.71% 
L-pinocarveol  0.36% 
β-sabinene 0.25% 
Terpinolene 0.19% 

Table 1: Chemical constituents of Eucalyptus oil.1 

A total of 0.26% of eucalyptus oil constituents are unknown.  

Based on my experience, I have observed that eucalyptus oil might possess hepatoprotective properties. This means that it could potentially protect the liver from damage caused by certain toxins. It is believed to involve the presence of ursolic acid, a compound found in the leaves of Eucalyptus hybrid E. tereticomis. Ursolic acid is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to its ability to protect the liver cells from damage and promote their regeneration.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Did you know?

  • Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial properties and can be effective against certain bacteria and fungi. source: nccih.nih.gov
  • Research suggests that eucalyptus oil may help relieve pain and inflammation when applied topically. source: nccih.nih.gov
  • Eucalyptus oil has been found to have insect-repellent properties, making it useful for repelling mosquitoes and other pests. source: cdc.gov
  • Eucalyptus oil has been found to have analgesic properties, providing pain relief when applied topically. source: nih.gov
  • Eucalyptus oil is often used as an ingredient in over-the-counter cough and cold medications. source: nccih.nih.gov

Properties of Eucalyptus Oil: 

Eucalyptus oil has many treasures hidden within it. Some of the properties of eucalyptus essential oil are:1 

  • It may act as an antiseptic. 
  • It might be used as a flavouring agent. 
  • It may act as a diuretic. 
  • It may be used as an antimicrobial. 
  • It may be used as an expectorant. 
  • It may be used as an anti-spasmodic. 

In my experience, I have observed that eucalyptus oil might be beneficial for relieving spasmodic throat troubles, such as in croup. When applied externally, it may help alleviate the spasms and provide relief.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Eucalyptus Oil for Overall Health: 

The potential benefits of eucalyptus oil for your health are: 

Potential uses of Eucalyptus Oil for Urinary Tract Infection  

In a study done by Moreira in 2001, eucalyptus oil may help in treating urinary tract infections. It may be used in an emulsion mixture with powdered gum-arabica and water. This mixture may be given as urethral injections. However, a doctor should be consulted before using nilgiri oil.1 

Potential uses of Eucalyptus Oil for Diabetics 

Eucalyptus essential oil has shown potential anti-diabetic properties. In a comparative study in 1998 by Gray, they observed the effects of eucalyptus for management of diabetes by partial restoration of pancreatic cells in rats. Further, Dey observed that eucalyptus citriodora showed potential anti-diabetic activity that was analogous to the standard diabetes drug Glibenclamide. Although, this won’t replace the medication prescribed by your doctor, you should consult a doctor before using eucalyptus oil for diabetes.1,2 

Potential uses of Eucalyptus Oil for Respiratory Diseases 

Sonker et. al in a study in 2017 observed that eucalyptus oil may potentially relieve symptoms of respiratory diseases. It was reported in a study that major constituents of this essential oil may relieve coughing, stimulate breathing, relax the respiratory muscles and remove mucus. Further, it may help in sore throat, runny nose, cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nasal congestion. Nilgiri oil can help in reducing the symptoms but should not be replaced with conventional treatment without consulting your doctor.1 

Potential uses of Eucalyptus Oil for Wound Healing 

In a study in 1994, Sarkar found sores, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, burns and wounds may be benefitted using eucalyptus leaf essential oil. It can be used in the form of an ointment or salve to potentially use on bug bites and stings. In a study by Sabo in 2019, extracts of eucalyptus species showed a probable reduction in the size of acetic acid-induced ulcers in rats. Therefore, it may be a possibility that eucalyptus oil can be used for wound healing. You should consult a doctor before using eucalyptus oil on your wounds.1 

Potential uses of Eucalyptus Oil in Pain Relief 

Maruyama in 2005 observed that aromatherapy massage potentially suppresses the inflammatory symptoms of oedema and neutrophil accumulation. This is because eucalyptus oil is volatile and hence, gets easily absorbed into the muscle and nerve. It has a property to reduce pain (analgesic). Eucalyptus may help in case of chronic pain along with conventional medication. Eucalyptus oil should not be traded for your medication without consulting your doctor.1,2 

Other Potential Uses 

Other than the above-noted uses of eucalyptus, they are also some other eucalyptus oil uses and benefits, such as: 

  • Eucalyptus oil for pain relief during menstrual cramps.3 
  • There are potential benefits of Nilgiri oil for hair as it may control sebum production and help scalp health.4 
  • It has shown potential anti-cancer activity. Eucalyptus globulus oil may inhibit the rapidly growing colon cancer cells and maybe be used as adjuvant therapy.5 
  • It may be useful in treating malaria. However, it cannot replace cinchona, which contains quinine, a compound used in the treatment of malaria.1 
  • It can potentially heal different intestinal worm infections.1 
  • It may be beneficial to apply eucalyptus oil externally during an upper airway infection.1 
  • It may be used to treat plaque and gum diseases as it contains cineole, an antiseptic that can destroy bacteria responsible for bad breath.6 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of the eucalyptus oil in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of eucalyptus oil on human health.  

For both chemical and natural techniques, the chosen eucalyptus oil is a unique kind. An ingredient in the oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is known to repel mosquitoes and other insects. I recommend the use of eucalyptus oil under the doctor’s supervision.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

How to Use Eucalyptus Oil? 

Eucalyptus oil may be used in a number of ways to treat different conditions. Some ways to use eucalyptus oil are:  

  • It could be used as a salve or ointment. 
  • It could be used as dried tea leaves. 
  • It may be present in cough drops, syrups, vaporizer fluids, toothpaste, mouthwashes and liniments. However, it should not be taken in large doses.  
  • You can use over-the-counter medications containing eucalyptus oils for mouthwash or cough. 
  • You can dilute eucalyptus essential oil with creams and apply for topical use in wound healing.6 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

One essential component of various topical analgesics is eucalyptus. These include creams, salves, sprays, and other topical painkillers that you may apply straight to your skin. From my knowledge, eucalyptus oil works by creating a cool or warm sensation that may distract you from the pain, even if it is not the primary painkiller.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, MD

Side Effects of Eucalyptus Oil: 

Like most essential oils, eucalyptus oil also has many side effects. The most common eucalyptus oil side effects are:  

  • You may experience skin reactions like rashes, itching and eczema.  
  • The side effects of inhaling eucalyptus oil can be asthma attacks and fever.  
  • It is absorbed rapidly and may show neurotoxicity effects.  
  • If you swallow even as little as half a teaspoon, you may experience dizziness, suffocation, delirium, rapid heartbeat and burning in the throat and mouth.3 

Precautions to Take with Herb:  

You now know that eucalyptus oil is should not be consumed by itself. Some other precautions to be taken with eucalyptus oil include: 

•Do not use eucalyptus oil if you are allergic to it. 

• Do not administer to children below 1 year of age. 

•Do not take the oil orally in large doses.  

• It should be avoided by pregnant and lactating mothers unless prescribed by the doctor.7 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Eucalyptus is generally considered safe for topical use. However, it should never be consumed orally, especially without dilution with some other ingredients. It is considered toxic when consumed orally and may interact with your medications. Eucalyptus oil may affect the metabolic activity of the liver and thus, may disrupt the metabolism of certain drugs.6 

If you are consuming any drug that may be metabolized by the liver, contact your general physician before using eucalyptus oil. For instance, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is a medication used to treat cancer. It was observed in an animal study that when eucalyptus oil is used on the skin caused an increase in the absorption of topical 5-FU. Further, some diabetic medication also interacts with eucalyptus oil. 3,6 

Also Read: Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil: Which is Healthier?

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Can you use eucalyptus oil to treat colds? 

Yes, the benefits of eucalyptus oil for cold are widely reported. It can be used via inhalation and cough drops. It has expectorant, antispasmodic and antiviral properties.  

Can eucalyptus oil be consumed orally? 

No, eucalyptus oil cannot be consumed orally, especially in large doses. It is usually consumed as a pharmaceutical product or can be used as a topical medication.  

Is eucalyptus oil safe for wound healing? 

Yes, eucalyptus oil can be used for wounds like abrasions, burns, scrapes, cuts and sores. It can be applied as a salve.

Does eucalyptus interact with other drugs? 

Yes, eucalyptus oil can interact with other drugs that get metabolized by the liver as it affects the metabolism rate in the liver. For example, 5-fluorouracil sees an increase in absorption when used topically with eucalyptus oil.  

Can children use eucalyptus oil? 

No, children under the age of one should not be administered eucalyptus oil. Children may be administered eucalyptus oil only after referring to a general physician.  


1. Rathva D, Parmar D, Upadhyay S, Upadhyay U. A Basic Review on Eucalyptus Oil. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Applications [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 29];5(2):771–81. Available from: https://ijprajournal.com/issue_dcp/A%20Basic%20Review%20on%20Eucalyptus%20Oil.pdf 

2. Dhakad AK, Pandey V v., Beg S, Rawat JM, Singh A. Biological, medicinal and toxicological significance of Eucalyptus leaf essential oil: a review. J Sci Food Agric. 2018 Feb 1;98(3):833–48. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28758221/ 

3. Eucalyptus – Tufts Medical Center Community Care [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from: https://hhma.org/healthadvisor/ma-eucalypt-ma/ 

4. Sanches Abelan U, Savassa Pinto Cacoci RPh É, Elyan Azevedo Martins T, Mansanares Giacon V, Valéria Robles Velasco M, Rosana Ribeiro de Castro Lima C, et al. Potential use of essential oils in cosmetic and dermatological hair products: A review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021;00:1–12. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34129742/ 

5. Chandorkar N, Tambe S, Amin P, Madankar C. A systematic and comprehensive review on current understanding of the pharmacological actions, molecular mechanisms, and clinical implications of the genus Eucalyptus. Phytomedicine Plus. 2021 Nov 1;1(4):100089. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667031321000713#:~:text=It%20can%20be%20concluded%20that,the%20treatment%20of%20respiratory%20disorders

6. Eucalyptus Information | Mount Sinai – New York [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from:  


7.         Eucalyptus Oil: Important information about eucalyptus oil [Internet]. Available from: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.4843.pdf 

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