What is Eucalyptus Essential Oil?

Tracey Parece

The eucalyptus plant is indigenous to Tasmania and Australia. It is also grown commercially in some parts of the Mediterranean region. Eucalyptus essential oil is derived from the leaves and stems of this plant through a process known as steam distillation. It is considered one of the best essential oils because it has medicinal, therapeutic, and antibacterial properties. This oil has been used in a number of natural products including deodorants, insect repellents, and expectorants.

Eucalyptus essential oil.
Eucalyptus essential oil.

Although there are many different species of eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus is most commonly used in the distillation of eucalyptus essential oil. Also known as the blue gum tree, or the Australian fever tree, Eucalyptus globulus grows up to 230 feet (70 meters). Its leaves contain eucalyptol, flavonoids, tannins, and volatile oils. Eucalyptol gives eucalyptus essential oil its antiseptic quality. Flavonoids contribute antioxidant properties, and tannins may be anti-inflammatory. Volatile oils feel like fatty oils, but evaporate like water.

Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from eucalyptus leaves and stems.
Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from eucalyptus leaves and stems.

Because eucalyptus essential oil is antiseptic, it may promote the healing of wounds and help to cure fungal infections. This same property makes it an effective deodorant by retarding the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Eucalyptus essential oil has been used in medicine in China, India, and Europe for centuries. It has been applied to boils, carbuncles, and sores to promote healing.

Similar in scent to both pine oil and camphor, eucalyptus essential oils are sometimes combined with other types of aromatherapy oils. It is paradoxically both calming and invigorating. Aromatherapists recommend using eucalyptus oil to revive a person who has fainted. To enhance the stimulating properties of eucalyptus essential oil, it can be blended with orange or bergamot essential oils while lavender may increase its relaxing effects.

Applied topically, eucalyptus essential oil has been known to alleviate arthritis and cramps. Salve or ointment containing the oil can be applied to the chest to loosen phlegm, soothe coughs, and relieve discomfort associated with the common cold. Like other essential oils, eucalyptus essential oil can be diluted in carrier oils such as olive oil, apricot kernel oil, or jojoba oil to ensure it does not irritate the skin. Alternatively, it may be added to lotion, dissolved in an Epsom salt bath, or added to a humidifier.

Taken internally, eucalyptus oil may be toxic. It can also interfere with prescription medications, over the counter remedies, and homeopathic regimens. Anyone with liver disease, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or asthma should avoid taking eucalyptus internally. For these reasons, it is important to consult a physician prior to beginning any course of treatment which contains any part of the eucalyptus plant.

Eucalyptus is a genus of plants containing over 500 unique species, primarily native to Australia and Tasmania.
Eucalyptus is a genus of plants containing over 500 unique species, primarily native to Australia and Tasmania.

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Discussion Comments


I've never used pure eucalyptus essential oil. I do know that it's in the solution that I use with my humidifier when I'm sick though. It makes my bedroom smell like eucalyptus and helps me breathe better.


I use an eucalyptus salve for my neck when it becomes sore and achy. I have a hernia in my neck. It formed after a car accident and gives me problems now and again. Sometimes it's so stiff and sore. When this happens, I have my husband massage it gently with the eucalyptus salve. I can feel my neck warming up and the circulation improving soon after. Eucalyptus also has pain relieving properties as mentioned, to it takes the ache away. I wrap a thin fabric around my neck after the massage to keep it warm and I feel so much better.


My aunt lives in Australia and she actually has an eucalyptus tree in her yard. It's a big old tree and the leas and twigs smell just wonderful. The scent however, is surprisingly much milder in comparison to the oil and products which contain it. I guess a lot of leaves are required to make the oil which makes the scent of the oil very potent and strong.

My aunt uses the leaves to make a tonic by leaving it in alcohol for some time. She uses this as a treatment for insect bites and also for inflammation due to injury. It works great for both. I remember I was once bitten by a mosquito and the bite was huge -- swollen and red. A little bit of the eucalyptus tonic wiped over the bite with a cotton ball took away all of the pain.

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