Eucalyptus essential oil has been used for centuries as a natural and effective solution for countless ailments but only recently have studies begun to either confirm or contradict the oil’s rumored healing properties. The tree, which is native to Australia but can now be found all over the globe, contains an oil in its leaves that can be extracted for medical purposes. It is used by the public to heal cuts and burns, help with symptoms of the common cold, cure baldness and heal acne. There is data that supports that the oil may be beneficial for individuals suffering from diabetes. The following are findings from scientific studies done in multiple countries with a variety of participants geared towards testing the oil’s unique properties.
A study that focused on the use of Eucalyptus oil on asthmatic patients showed promising results. Nitric oxide is produced by certain types of cells in a response to inflammation. People with asthma will exhale more nitric oxide than people not suffering from the condition. The study was simple in nature but it was able to show that Eucalyptus oil shows promise in being a non-steroidal treatment option for asthma as the nitric oxide levels were lowered when the oil was introduced to the participants. (This paragraph needs to be reworded)
A more in depth study was conducted on asthma patients who depended on steroid treatments for their symptoms. Half of the participants were administered an oral preparation of Eucalyptus oil while the other half were given a placebo. After twelve weeks, 35% of the patients using Eucalyptus were able to reduce their steroid use by 3.5mg a day. Out of the participants who were administered the placebo, only 7% were able to decrease their steroid use. The decrease was also less, with an average reduction of 0.91mg a day.
Side effects from steroid use for asthma symptoms include weight gain, fluid retention, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar. Therefore, the possibility of a more natural treatment for asthma has grabbed the attention of many scientists and studies continue.
Healthier Hair Growth
The University of Technology in Thailand conducted a study in 2005 that focused on the effects of Eucalyptus extract (a milder form of the oil) on the hair and scalp. A solution that contained 3% Eucalyptus extract was applied twice daily to the participants scalp for several months. The finalization of the study showed that within three months of daily use, the amount of ceramide (responsible for keeping the protective cuticle layer of hair strands in tact) in the scalp of the participants had increased by 120%. The skin of the scalp was also improved and was able to retain more moisture. Hair appeared more shiny, full of body and overall healthier.
Only the scalp was affected however. When the solution was applied to the length of the hair, results were minimal. The study concluded that the solution was only effective in increasing the amount of ceramide present in the scalp, which positively impacted the new hair growing in. In conclusion, Eucalyptus oil is able to improve the quality of new hair development.
Anxiety Before Surgery
A Korean study conducted in 2014 focused on Eucalyptus oil’s effects on the body when under a high level of stress. 62 patients were selected for the randomized controlled trial that focused on the patients’ self assessment of their level of anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate before and after selective nerve root block (SNRB) procedures.
Before their procedures, all patients were given a solution to inhale for five full minutes. The solutions were randomly given to each patient, with a close to equal amount of patients getting each different solution, which were of limonene, 1,8-cineole or Eucalyptus oil. The study found that the 1,8-cineole was the most effective in lowering anxiety. Eucalyptus was second and limonene, while effective, was the least out of the three solutions.
1,8-cineole is one of the main components of Eucalyptus oil. The conclusion of the study showed that Eucalyptus oil is effective in reducing preoperative anxiety in patients because of the success of the 1,8-cineole.
Small Study Findings
-Eucalyptus oil has shown the capability to inhibit the growth of bacterial strains which have been isolated from respiratory infections (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Haemophilus influenzae). (2008)
-When used in respiratory diseases, Eucalyptus oil displays strong antibacterial activity along with anti-inflammatory properties, acting as an expectorant and stimulating bronchial secretions. (2011)
-1,8-cineole, the main component of Eucalyptus oil, has shown antiviral activity and the ability to relieve coughs and help to open the airways of the lungs and allow a greater concentration of air to flow through them. It also helps to break down and dissolve mucus and displays anti-inflammatory activity. (2007)
As any essential oil, Eucalyptus oil should always be tested before use. Place a small amount on the skin and wait a full day to see if any irritation, redness or swelling occurs. There is not enough evidence to support if the use of Eucalyptus oil is safe in pregnant or breastfeeding women and should therefore be avoided. Due to the high content of one chemical compound, 1,8-cineole, Eucalyptus oil should be avoided in children under the age of ten unless otherwise directed by a medical professional. It should never be applied near the face or nose of a child under the age of two.
Eucalyptus oil should be used with extreme caution in the following situations, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU): When used in a study with animals, Eucalyptus oil that was applied topically caused topical 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) to be absorbed more. This can alter the medication’s treatment strength, which is used to treat cancer.
- No one with asthma, seizure disorders, liver or kidney disease or low blood pressure should use Eucalyptus oil without medical approval first.
Eucalyptus oil can be toxic if consumed orally. While possibly safe in extremely small doses, this should be avoided if any type of medication is being regularly consumed due to the risk of drug interactions.