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What is Eucalyptus Used for Today?
A standardized combination of cineol from eucalyptus, d-limonene from citrus fruit, and alpha-pinene from pine has been studied for effectiveness in a variety of respiratory conditions. These oils are all in a chemical family called monoterpenes, and for this reason the combined treatment is called “ essential oil monoterpenes .” This combination is discussed in a separate article of that name. Other combination therapies containing eucalyptus oil are discussed in the article titled Aromatherapy .
Eucalyptus oil or its constituents taken alone have undergone only limited study. It appears to be most promising as a treatment for the common cold. However, concerns about safety have limited its use.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 152 people, use of cineol at a dose of 200 mg three times daily markedly improved symptoms of the common cold . 1 Benefits were seen in such symptoms as nasal congestion, headache, and overall malaise. Because the participants in this study suffered, in particular, from sinus symptoms, this study has been used to indicate that cineol may be helpful for viral sinusitis . Few significant side effects were seen in this study, but the product used was of pharmaceutical grade, and not all dietary supplements of eucalyptus oil may be equally safe. A second placebo-controlled study involving 150 subjects also demonstrated favorable results of cineol compared to a combination of five other herbal products. 2 In another study, 32 people on steroids to control severe asthma (steroid-dependent asthma) were given either placebo or cineole (200 mg three times daily) for 12 weeks. 3 The results showed that people using cineole were able to gradually reduce their steroid dosage to a greater extent than those taking placebo. NOTE: Reduction of steroid dosage should be done only under the supervision of a physician.
Cineole or eucalyptus oil applied topically has also shown some potential value for repelling mosquito bites . 4 In one double-blind study, chewing gum containing eucalyptus extract was more beneficial for moderate gingivitis compared to a placebo gum. 5
- Kehrl W, Sonnemann U, Dethlefsen U. Therapy for acute nonpurulent rhinosinusitis with cineole: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Laryngoscope. 114(4):738-42.
- Tesche S, Metternich F, Sonnemann U, Engelke JC, Dethlefsen U. The value of herbal medicines in the treatment of acute non-purulent rhinosinusitis. Results of a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 265(11):1355-9.
- Juergens UR, Dethlefsen U, Steinkamp G, Gillissen A, Repges R, Vetter H. Anti-inflammatory activity of 1.8-cineol (eucalyptol) in bronchial asthma: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Respir Med. 97(3):250-6.
- Traboulsi AF, El-Haj S, Tueni M, et al. Repellency and toxicity of aromatic plant extracts against the mosquito Culex pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Manag Sci. 2005;61:597–604.
- Nagata H, Inagaki Y, Tanaka M, Ojima M, Kataoka K, Kuboniwa M, Nishida N, Shimizu K, Osawa K, Shizukuishi S. Effect of eucalyptus extract chewing gum on periodontal health: a double-masked, randomized trial. J Periodontol. 79(8):1378-85.