Nutritional Supplement

Eucalyptus

Parts Used & Where Grown

Eucalyptus is an evergreen tree native to Australia but is cultivated worldwide. The plant’s leaves—and the oil that is steam-distilled from them—are used medicinally.1

How It Works

The major constituent in eucalyptus leaves is a volatile oil known as eucalyptol (1,8-cineol). In order to provide an effective expectorant and antiseptic action, the leaf oil should contain approximately 70–85% eucalyptol.2 Eucalyptus oil is said to function in a fashion similar to that of menthol by acting on receptors in the nasal mucosa, leading to a reduction in symptoms such as nasal congestion.3 In test tube studies, eucalyptus species have been shown to possess antibacterial actions against such organisms as Bacillus subtilis,4 as well as several strains of Streptococcus.5 These actions have not been researched in human clinical trials.

Peppermint (10 grams) and eucalyptus oil (5 grams) in combination, applied topically to the forehead and temples for three minutes with a small sponge, have been shown to be helpful as a muscle relaxant (but not for pain relief) in people with tension headaches.6 A eucalyptus oil extract containing 50% p-methane-3,8-diol (PMD) as the active ingredient has been shown to be effective in protecting human volunteers from various types of biting insects.7 On human forearms, it was determined that the eucalyptus extract was nearly as effective as a 20% solution of diethyltoluamine (used in many insect repellents) in repelling bites of the Anopheles mosquito (the insect that spreads malaria) for up to five hours. The eucalyptus extract was also effective at repelling flies (94%) and midges (100%) for up to six hours.

A preliminary study suggests the combination of eucalyptus and menthol as a nasal inhalant is helpful in cases of mild to moderate snoring.8 Also, in a double-blind trial, a eucalyptus-based rub was found helpful for warming muscles in athletes.9 This further suggests eucalyptus may help relieve minor muscle soreness when applied topically, though studies are needed to confirm this possibility.

References

1. Wren RC. Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, England: C.W. Daniel Co., 1988, 110-1.

2. Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicines. New York: Haworth Press, 1999, 123.

3. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146-7.

4. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 232-3.

5. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 108.

6. Göbel H, Schmidt G, Dwoshak M, et al. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomedicine 1995;2:93-102.

7. Trigg JK, Hill N. Laboratory evaluation of a eucalyptus-based insect repellent against four biting arthropods. Phytother Res 1996;10:313-6. Reviewed by Yarnell E. Selected herbal research summaries QRNM 1997;116.

8. Ishizuka Y, Imamura Y, Tereshima K, et al. Effects of nasal inhalation capsule. Oto-Rhino-Laryngology Tokyo 1997;40:9-13.

9. Hong CZ, Shellock FG. Effects of a topically applied counterirritant (Eucalyptamint) on cutaneous blood flow and on skin and muscle temperatures. A placebo-controlled study. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1991;70:29-33.

10. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146-7.

11. Kehrl W, Sonnemann U, Dethlefsen U. Therapy for acute nonpurulent rhinosinusitis with cineole: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Laryngoscope2004;114:738-42.

12. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146-7.

13. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 162-3.

14. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC press, 1994,192-4.

15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al, eds. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 126-8.

16. Kato T, Iijima H, Ishihara K, et al. Antibacterial effects of Listerine on oral bacteria. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll 1990;31:301-7.

17. Cosentino S, Tuberoso CI, Pisano B, et al. In-vitro antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of Sardinian Thymus essential oils. Lett Appl Microbiol 1999;29:130-5.

18. Petersson LG, Edwardsson S, Arends J. Antimicrobial effect of a dental varnish, in vitro. Swed Dent J 1992;16:183-9.

19. Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, et al. The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol 2000;88:170-5.

20. Serfaty R, Itic J. Comparative trial with natural herbal mouthwash versus chlorhexidine in gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1988;1:A34-7.

21. Dolara P, Corte B, Ghelardini C, et al. Local anaesthetic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesquiterpenes from myrrh. Planta Med 2000;66:356-8.

22. Hannah JJ, Johnson JD, Kuftinec MM. Long-term clinical evaluation of toothpaste and oral rinse containing sanguinaria extract in controlling plaque, gingival inflammation, and sulcular bleeding during orthodontic treatment. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1989;96:199-207.

23. Boyd EM. Expectorants and respiratory tract fluid. Pharmacol Rev 1954;6:521-42 [review].

24. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 162-3.

25. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 108.

26. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 232-3.

27. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146-7.

28. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 127-8.

29. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Institute Publishers, 1997, 46-7.

30. Darben T, Cominos B, Lee CT. Topical eucalyptus oil poisoning. Australas J Dermatol 1998;39:265-7.

31. Waldman N. Seizure caused by dermal application of over-the counter eucalyptus oil head lice preparation. Clin Toxicol 2011;49:750-1.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2022.