Originally native to Australia, eucalyptus trees are now grown all over the world and used for their medicinal properties. Their healing power comes from eucalyptus oil, which is made from the tree’s oval-shaped leaves.
The leaves are dried, crushed, and distilled to release the essential oil. After the oil has been extracted, it must be diluted before it can be used as medicine. Here are nine benefits of eucalyptus oil.
1. Silence a cough
For many years, eucalyptus oil has been used to relieve coughing. Today, some over-the-counter cough medications have eucalyptus oil as one of their active ingredients. Vicks VapoRub, for example, contains about 1.2 percent eucalyptus oil along with other cough suppressant ingredients.
The popular rub is applied to the chest and throat to relieve cough symptoms from the common cold or flu.
2. Clear your chest
Are you coughing but nothing is coming up? Eucalyptus oil can not only silence a cough, it can also help you get the mucus out of your chest.
Inhaling vapor made with the essential oil can loosen mucus so that when you do cough, it’s expelled. Using a rub containing eucalyptus oil will produce the same effect.
3. Keep the bugs away
Mosquitoes and other biting insects carry diseases that can be dangerous to our health. Avoiding their bites is our best defense. DEET sprays are the most popular repellants, but they’re made with strong chemicals.
As an effective alternative for those who aren’t able to use DEET, many manufacturers make a botanical compound to repel the pests. Brands such as Repel and Off! use oil of lemon eucalyptus to keep the pests away.
4. Disinfect wounds
The Australian aborigines used eucalyptus leaves to treat wounds and prevent infection. Today the diluted oil may still be used on the skin to fight inflammation and promote healing. You can purchase creams or ointments that contain eucalyptus oil. These products may be used on minor burns or other injuries that can be treated at home.
5. Breathe easy
Respiratory conditions such as asthma and sinusitis may be helped by inhaling steam with added eucalyptus oil. The oil reacts with mucous membranes, not only reducing mucus but helping loosen it so that you can cough it up.
It’s also possible that eucalyptus blocks asthma symptoms. On the other hand, for people who are allergic to eucalyptus, it may worsen their asthma. More research is needed to determine how eucalyptus affects people with asthma.
6. Control blood sugar
Eucalyptus oil has potential as a treatment for diabetes. Although we don’t know much at this time, experts believe that it may play a role in lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Researchers haven’t yet figured out how the essential oil works. However, until more is known, the scientific community recommends careful blood sugar monitoring for people using diabetes medication with eucalyptus oil.
7. Soothe cold sores
The anti-inflammatory properties of eucalyptus can ease symptoms of herpes. Applying eucalyptus oil to a cold sore may reduce pain and speed up the healing process.
You can buy over-the-counter balms and ointments for cold sores that use a blend of essential oils, including eucalyptus, as part of their active ingredient list.
8. Freshen breath
Mint isn’t the only weapon against stinky breath. Because of its antibacterial properties, eucalyptus oil can be used to fight the germs that cause unfortunate mouth odor. Some mouthwashes and toothpastes contain the essential oil as an active ingredient.
It’s possible that eucalyptus products may also help prevent plaque buildup on the teeth and gums by attacking the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
9. Ease joint pain
Research suggests that eucalyptus oil eases joint pain. In fact, many popular over-the- counter creams and ointments used to soothe pain from conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis contain this essential oil.
Eucalyptus oil helps to reduce pain and inflammation associated with many conditions. It may also be helpful to people experiencing back pain or those recovering from a joint or muscle injury. Talk to your doctor about if it may be right for you.