"Eucalyptus globulus" has a reputation among health practitioners for its ability to soothe and heal a range of respiratory conditions. It's also an effective insect repellant and useful for pet care. Eucalyptus leaves contain terpenes, flavanoids, resins, bitters and volatile oils that contain 80 to 85 percent eucalyptol. However, despite its many benefits, eucalyptus must be used cautiously to avoid potentially harmful or fatal consumption.
Eucalyptus for Children
Children under the age of 18 should not ingest eucalyptus leaves or oil. Children age 6 and older can take cough medicines made with eucalyptus. Eucalyptus steams or chest rubs may be safe, but consult a doctor first.
Eucalyptus and Asthma
People with asthma should consult their doctors before using eucalyptus. Eucalyptus may contain ingredients that trigger asthma attacks.
Taking Eucalyptus Oil Internally
Only take eucalyptus oil under the strict care of a licensed health professional. Taking 3.5 milliliters of undiluted oil can be fatal. Signs of eucalyptus poisoning are nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, vertigo, fatigue, diarrhea and trouble breathing.
Using Eucalyptus Oil Externally
Undiluted eucalyptus oil is known to cause skin irritations, rashes and burning. Before applying to the skin, dilute 15 drops of eucalyptus oil in a half-cup of carrier oil such as sweet almond, olive, or grape seed oil
Eucalyptus, Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding
Nursing mothers and pregnant women should avoid eucalyptus oil. Although it is unknown whether eucalyptus oil is passed on to the infant through the mother, fatalities have occurred after giving infants eucalyptus oil.
Using Eucalyptus With Other Medications
Consult a doctor before taking eucalyptus if you are using any medications. Eucalyptus may increase drowsiness when combined with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and narcotics. Eucalyptus may also hinder the liver from effectively breaking down other medications, which could lead to side effects.
Eucalyptus and Conditions
Eucalyptus leaves should be avoided where there is inflammation of the kidneys and intestinal tract, bile duct inflammatory disease, liver disease, or low or high blood pressure. The leaves' tannins can cause irritation to these conditions.
Safe Dosage of Eucalyptus for Adults
To avoid eucalyptus dangers, use safe dosages. For inhalation, use two to four drops of eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer or per cup of boiling water. For a eucalyptus leaf infusion or tea, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried leaves to a cup of hot water and steep for 20 minutes. Drink 3 cups daily. Take 10 to 30 drops of eucalyptus leaf tincture daily.
- Medline Plus; Eucalyptus; 2010
- Aetna Intelihealth; Eucalyptus Oil; 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Eucalyptus; 2010
- "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy", Valerie Ann Worwood; 1991
- Photo Credit Dynamic Graphics/Polka Dot/Getty Images