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Eucalyptus - How does Eucalyptus Works?

Taxonomic Class

Myrtaceae

Common Trade Names

Eucalyptamint, Eucalyptus Oil

Common Forms

Available as aroma therapy room spray, bath salts, leaves, lotion, and oil.

Source

The herb is extracted from the leaves of the Eucalyptus globulus plant.

Chemical Components

The eucalyptus plant contains several chemicals, including eucalyptrin, hyperoside, quercetin, quecitrin, tannins, and associated acids. The primary constituent of the volatile oil is eucalyptol (1,8-cineole).

Actions

Eucalyptus has hypoglycemic activity in rabbits, but its mechanism of action is unknown. Eucalyptus produces a stimulant effect on nasal temperature receptors. It is also a counterirritant and increases cutaneous blood flow . It has been shown to exert antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects . Cineole has demonstrated inhibitory effects on tumor necrosis factor-a, specific interleukins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes .

Reported Uses

The herb was first used more than 100 years ago to relieve nasal congestion. When inhaled eucalyptus was evaluated in human patients, the changes in nasal resistance were similar to those of breathing air alone . Russian literature supports the use of eucalymine, a eucalyptus-based product, for the therapy of some sinusitis.

Dosage

For topical use, 30 ml oil is mixed with 500 ml of water.

For various uses, typical oral dosages include 0.05 to 0.2 ml (eucalyptol), 0.05 to 0.2 ml (eucalyptus oil), or 2 to 4 g (fluidextract).

Adverse Reactions

  • CNS: delirium, dizziness, seizures (eucalyptus oil is a powerful convulsant).

  • EENT: miosis.

  • GI: epigastric burning, esophagitis (Sharara, 2000), nausea, vomiting.

  • Musculoskeletal: muscle weakness.

  • Respiratory: cyanosis.

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Eucalyptus oil is contraindicated in patients receiving hypoglycemic therapy and in pregnant or breast-feeding patients.

Special Considerations

Alert CNS, Gl, and respiratory reactions can occur even with low doses .

Alert Several sources suggest that eucalyptus oil is extremely toxic if

ingested. Even topical application has produced toxicity in a 6-year-old girl, who presented with ataxia, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and progression to unconsciousness after widespread application of eucalyptus oil for urticaria .

Advise the patient that the herb should be diluted before internal or external use.

Instruct the patient to keep eucalyptus out of the reach of children and pets.

Advise the pregnant or breast-feeding patient to avoid using eucalyptus.

Commentary

Although eucalyptus is widely consumed, few clinical data support its claims. Data on the herb's antifungal and antimicrobial effects have not been evaluated in humans or animals; therefore, its use cannot be recommended. Eucalyptus oil should be kept out of the reach of children because of its potential for severe CNS and GI toxicity.

   

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