Eucalyptus has some pretty sweet street cred in the essential oil world. Not only does it smell like a minty forest, it also has some pretty impressive health perks.
Here are the top benefits of adding eucalyptus oil to your life, plus safety tips for using this powerhouse oil the right way.
Eucalyptus oil benefits
Eucalyptus essential oil is versatile AF. It can be used as a topical solution or as aromatherapy. Here are 11 potential benefits of eucalyptus oil:
- healthier hair
- natural bug repellent
- antimicrobial properties
- may sooth dry skin
- calms cold sores
- pain reliever
- dental care
- boosts immune system
- clears congestion
- reduces anxiety
- kills lice
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Eucalyptus essential oil is made from the dried, crushed, and distilled leaves of eucalyptus trees. The trees are part of the Myrtaceae plant family that are native to Australia (hello, cute koalas munching on eucalyptus), but they can now be found all over the world.
There are a few varieties of eucalyptus trees used to make the oil, including lemon eucalyptus tress. These trees are also used to make oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). This is technically different than your usual eucalyptus essential oil because it’s combined with para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) for extra power against pests like mosquitos and ticks.
1. Healthier hair
Eucalyptus oil has some pretty dope herbicidal, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. That means it might help your hair and scalp health. Some folks think it can stimulate hair growth too, but we need more research to show if it can really turn you into Rapunzel.
There’s also a chance eucalyptus can help you ditch your dandruff. In a 2018 study, 34 peeps were given a scalp lotion that contained eucalyptus leaf extract and synthetic ceramide. It helped reduce scalp itchiness, redness, scaliness, and dryness. But despite positive findings, the study’s small sample size doesn’t necessarily prove it works.
2. Natural bug repellent
Eucalyptus oil contains eucalyptol, a natural insect repellent. Studies show it can ward off mosquitos and other annoying blood suckers. Pro tip: You can combine it with other essential oils to make it more effective.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) can also provide long-lasting protection, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
3. Antimicrobial properties
A 2016 study found that essential oil made from Eucalyptus camaldulensis — a plant in the Eucalyptus family — may help antibiotics work better against multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Another study found that eucalyptus oil can curb pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract. This includes Haemophilus influenzae, which has been linked to lots of different infections including pneumonia, meningitis, and cellulitis.
4. May soothe dry skin
Topical eucalyptus leaf extract might help boost ceramide production. These fatty acids help your skin maintain its protective barrier and retain moisture. This can be extra useful if you have skin or a condition like psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.
5. Calms cold sores
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, eucalyptus might help ease herpes symptoms. But don’t put essential oil directly on a cold sore! Instead, find a balm or ointment that has eucalyptus as an active ingredient.
FYI: Eucalyptus oil can’t cure herpes. Your doc can give you some solid options to keep outbreaks under control though.
6. Pain reliever
Lots of over-the-counter (OTC) pain creams for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis contain eucalyptus essential oil. And for good reason! There’s a chance it can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and discomfort.
A 2013 study found that inhaling eucalyptus essential oil reduced pain and blood pressure in folks who underwent total knee replacement surgery.
7. Dental care
Eucalyptus oil might help keep the cavity creeps away. Its antibacterial properties can reduce your risk of tooth decay. One older study also found that eucalyptus extract in chewing gum can promote gum health.
Breath bonus: Since eucalyptus can prevent plaque buildup, it might improve bad breath.
8. Boost immune system
Eucalyptus oil might help your immune system, according to an older 2008 study. Researchers found that the oil helped boost phagocytic response in rats. Psst. That means it helped the immune system destroy foreign particles like bacteria. Keep in mind, we need more proof in humans.
9. Clear congestion
Eucalyptus might come in clutch if you have a case of the sniffles. Some studies suggest it can help relieve cold symptoms like nasal congestion. Research also shows it can expand the bronchioles and bronchi of your lungs, which is good news if you have asthma or rhinosinusitis.
10. Reduces anxiety
Some research shows that eucalyptus oil helps decrease activity in your sympathetic nervous system (aka the stress response system). This might promote relaxation and reduce stress.
A 2014 study also found that inhaling eucalyptus oil helped reduce anxiety in folks who were about to have surgery.
11. Kills lice
Eucalyptus oil might help send those lousy louses packing. In one randomized study, eucalyptus oil was twice as effective as another head lice treatment in curing head lice. But we still need more research to show its efficacy.
Eucalyptus is generally safe to use on the skin. But some essential oils can be hazardous, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). That’s why it’s super important you stick to top-notch products from reputable sources. (Peep our guide to buying essential oils.)
You also have to be careful with the strength. The max dosage of diluted eucalyptus oil should be less than 5 percent. Anything stronger than that can irritate or burn the skin.
BTW: Pure eucalyptus essential oil is poisonous to take orally. A 3.5 milliliter dose (which is less than 1 teaspoon) can be fatal, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Even a teeny-tiny dose can cause severe side effects like:
Note: You may want to avoid eucalyptus oil if you’re preggo or breastfeeding. There’s not enough research to show if it’s safe for your bébé.
Patch test PSA
Do a patch test before applying eucalyptus oil to your body. Apply a small amount behind your ear or on your forearm. If you don’t notice any irritation after 24 hours, you should be good to go. Just keep in mind, allergies can pop up over time.
Here’s how you can keep your eucalyptus oil use safe and effective.
You can find preblended eucalyptus essential oils online or in most health food stores. But you can also DIY your own at home. Just add a few drops of pure eucalyptus oil to a cup of carrier oil. Olive, coconut, or almond are all 10/10 choices. Then dab a bit on your skin. Just keep in mind, a little bit goes a long way!
P.S. Avoid your private parts and eyes. Trust us. That shiz burns 🔥.
Eucalyptus can be found as an active ingredient in lots of tooth pastes, mouth rinses, and chewing gums. These products tend to be safer to use than actual eucalyptus essential oil because they reduce your risk of ingesting unsafe amounts.
In a diffuser
Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a steam bowl or diffuser. If you don’t have these, you can sprinkle a few drops on the side of your bath when you take a hot shower. The steam will help diffuse it.
As a bug repellent
Suck it, mosquitos! To make your own bug repellent, combine 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of witch hazel, and up to 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spritz it around an outdoor area. But be careful — it can be toxic for kiddos and pets.
Eucalyptus oil is made from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. It’s known to have herbicidal, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. It can help soothe dry skin, reduce anxiety, ward off bugs, and relieve pain. But we still need more research to show all of the benefits are the real deal.
Reminder: Pure eucalyptus oil is poisonous and should NEVER be consumed. Make sure you talk with your doc before adding it to your routine.