Essential oils have a lot of different benefits. Some can help you de-stress. Others can help you catch much-needed z's. There are blends that sharpen your focus and energy. Some can provide sweet relief when you have menstrual cramps, and others might boost your immunity so you can get over a cold faster.
One powerhouse in the essential oil universe is eucalyptus. It has just so many uses. Not only does it smell so good to calm and rejuvenate, but it also has some benefits when it comes to immunity, mental clarity, headaches, and stress relief. Here, the experts break it down for us.
What Is Eucalyptus Essential Oil?
"Essential oils are extracts taken from plant materials such as leaves, flowers, bark, or resins," explains Sara Panton, co-founder of Vitruvi. "They are extracted in a number of different ways, but steam distillation is the most popular method for premium essential oils. Eucalyptus oil is extracted from eucalyptus leaves via steam distillation, which uses steam to extract the volatile oils from the plant matter and trap them in steam, which is then condensed into water, and the oil sits above the water and is then separated."
There are different botanical varieties of eucalyptus oil, says Aba Gyepi-Garbrah, certified aromatherapist and founder of Aba Love Apothecary. They include blue mallee (euc. polybractea), narrow leaf (euc. radiata), and blue gum (euc. globulus). The most widely available is blue gum.
How to Use Eucalyptus Essential Oil
There are two ways you can use eucalyptus essential oil: through the air or by applying it topically. However, there are some guidelines you'll want to follow. "It needs to be diluted in a carrier oil to be applied on the body and reduce the risk of sensitization on the skin," Gyepi-Garbrah says. "Diffusers are a great way to get the immune-supporting benefits of eucalyptus through inhalation in addition to clearing the air of microbes. A little goes a long way!"
If you don't have a diffuser, you can also put a drop of oil in your bath or shower. And if you are going to use it topically, do a patch test with the carrier oil and eucalyptus oil to check for any allergic reactions, adds Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, chef, nutritionist, Reiki master, and founder of the Culinary Alchemy program. Jojoba, coconut, and argan oils are good options for carrier oils.
It's also important to note that eucalyptus oil is toxic if ingested. Some people might use the oil as a mouthwash. If doing this, Poon advises using careful caution. It's also toxic if ingested by animals, so keep an eye on your pets.
Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
It Can Help You Breathe Easier
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This can come in handy if you have a cold or cough or are congested. "Inhaling vapor made with the essential oil reacts with the mucous membranes to loosen mucus to easily expel," explains Mona Dan, LAc, MTOM, herbalist, acupuncturist, and founder of Vie Healing. "Using eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and rubbing it on the chest, similar to VapoRub, is a great way to accomplish this relief. Respiratory conditions such as asthma and sinusitis can be supported by inhaling steam with added eucalyptus oil."
It Has Antimicrobial Properties
"Eucalyptus oil has been found to have antibacterial properties and may inhibit growth of the bacteria that cause things like athlete's foot and acne," Poon says. "Again, make sure to blend a small amount with oil and do a patch test before trying eucalyptus oil for any topical treatment."
It Can Help You Relax
Gyepi-Garbrah says eucalyptus oil can encourage connection to the breath, which can promote relaxation and soothe anxiety.
It Promotes Mental Clarity
Since the aroma prompts us to take deep breaths, Panton says it might make you more alert and focused, clearing any brain fog.
It Helps Soothe Aches and Pains
"Eucalyptus oil helps to reduce pain and inflammation associated with many conditions because of its invigorating nature. It promotes blood flow," Dan explains. "It may also be helpful to people experiencing headaches, back pain, or those recovering from a joint or muscle injury." The calming scent can relieve tension headaches. And even inhaling eucalyptus can have a relieving effect on conditions like arthritis or joint pain.
Poon cites studies that have shown eucalyptus's effect on muscle pain. "Mix a drop of eucalyptus oil with a bit of olive oil and rub on your sore muscles," she says. "Make sure to do a patch test before rubbing eucalyptus oil into your skin."
It Has Some Wound-Healing Properties
"Eucalyptus oil has been shown to be antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antihyperglycemic, and antioxidant," Poon says. "One study found that mixing eucalyptus oil with olive oil may help to heal wounds such as minor burns or chronic wounds from diseases like diabetes." The anti-inflammatory properties in the oil can help speed up the healing process and ease symptoms.
It Stimulates the Scalp
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Dan says eucalyptus can stimulate hair follicles, which in turn can promote hair health and growth. It can even help with hair problems like an itchy scalp, dandruff, or lice.
It Acts as a Bug Repellent
Bug bites can be so annoying and uncomfortable. Keep the bugs at bay with eucalyptus oil. "Research has shown eucalyptus oil to be a useful repellent against mosquitoes, and it smells better than some of the chemical versions as well!" Poon says.
Other Ways to Use Eucalyptus Oil
In addition to using a diffuser or mixing it with a carrier oil for topical use, there are a couple of other things you can do with that essential oil bottle:
Create a spa feeling for your morning shower: Panton likes pouring five drops of the oil into her hands in the shower in the morning. "If you rub your hands briskly together, the heat of the shower helps fill the bathroom, creating the feeling and scent of a eucalyptus steam room at a spa. It's a great way to start the day and leaves the oil on your skin only briefly."
Cleanse the air: Gyepi-Garbrah recommends using the refreshing scent to clear the air in your home.
Add it to your moisturizer: This will provide a stimulating effect on the nervous system because of its strong aromatic nature, Dan says.
Do your laundry with it: "Add a few drops to wool dryer balls to keep your towels smelling spa-like while you're drying them," Panton says.