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Eucalyptus leaves have many therapeutic benefits, from reducing discomfort to freshening breath. You can drink eucalyptus tea but avoid eucalyptus oil as it can be harmful even in small amounts.
- High in antioxidants
Although you cannot eat fresh, whole eucalyptus leaves, dried leaves can be made into tea. Be careful not to mistake this tea for eucalyptus oil, which can be toxic if consumed. Choose a tea that’s labeled “eucalyptus leaves tea,” and don’t add eucalyptus essential oil to your tea. Eucalyptus leaves are a great source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which protect your body from oxidative stress and free radical damage. The main flavonoids in eucalyptus include catechins, isorhamnetin, luteolin, kaempferol, phloretin, and quercetin. Diets rich in these compounds may protect against certain cancers, heart disease, and dementia. For example, a large study including 38,180 men and 60,289 women found that a diet high in flavonoids was associated with an 18% lower risk of fatal heart disease. Eucalyptus tea is a good source of these antioxidants and generally recognised as safe for adults. However, children are at high risk of eucalyptus toxicity and should get approval from a healthcare professional before drinking this tea.
- May relieve cold symptoms
Eucalyptus is widely used as a natural cold remedy and is a common ingredient in cold and cough products. Research has shown that it can decrease mucus and expand the bronchi and bronchioles of your lungs. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory agent. The main ingredient responsible for these properties is eucalyptol, also known as cineole, which is a compound found in eucalyptus oil. Some research has shown that eucalyptol relieves cold symptoms like cough frequency, nasal congestion, and headache by decreasing inflammation and mucus buildup. Furthermore, eucalyptol may help improve asthma symptoms. Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled through your nose and may provide some cold symptom relief. It’s also found in many topical decongestants. However, because even small doses of the oil can be toxic, you should avoid consuming it. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before using eucalyptol or changing your medications.
- May treat dry skin
Using eucalyptus may improve dry skin by increasing its ceramide content. Ceramides are a type of fatty acid in your skin that’s responsible for maintaining its barrier and retaining its moisture. Those who experience dry skin, dandruff, or skin disorders like dermatitis and psoriasis usually have lower ceramide levels. Topical eucalyptus leaf extract has been found to boost skin ceramide production, water-holding capacity, and skin barrier protection. It contains a compound called macrocarpal A, which appears to stimulate ceramide production. In a study in 34 people, using a scalp lotion containing eucalyptus leaf extract and synthetic ceramide significantly decreased scalp redness, itchiness, dryness, and scaliness. Hence, many hair and skin products contain eucalyptus leaf extract.
- May reduce pain
Inhaling eucalyptus essential oil may decrease pain. Eucalyptus contains many anti-inflammatory compounds, such as cineole and limonene, which may act as pain relievers. A 3-day study in 52 people who had undergone knee replacement surgery found that inhaling eucalyptus oil dissolved in almond oil for 30 minutes daily significantly decreased perceived pain and blood pressure levels, compared with inhaling pure almond oil. However, another study in 123 people with cancer found no improvements in perceived pain after inhaling eucalyptus oil for 3 minutes prior to a medical procedure, suggesting that more research is needed.
- May promote relaxation
Eucalyptus is widely believed to decrease symptoms of stress. In one study, 62 healthy people experienced significant reductions in pre-surgery anxiety after inhaling eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus contains eucalyptol, which has been found to possess anti-anxiety properties. Furthermore, inhaling eucalyptus oil for 30 minutes has been associated with lower blood pressure in patients after knee surgery, which suggests that it has a calming effect. Researchers believe that it decreases the activity of your sympathetic nervous system — your stress response system — and increases the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation.
- 6. Can help keep your teeth healthy
Eucalyptus leaf extract, known as eucalyptol, may improve dental health. Eucalyptus leaves contain high amounts of ethanol and macrocarpal C — a type of polyphenol. These compounds are associated with lower levels of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. A study in 97 people found those who chewed gum with eucalyptus leaf extract 5 times per day for at least 5 minutes had a significant decrease in plaque buildup, gum bleeding, and gum inflammation, while the control group experienced no improvements.
- Can act as a natural insect repellent
Eucalyptus oil is a natural insect repellent, mainly due to its eucalyptol content. Research has shown that it’s effective at warding off mosquitoes and other biting insects for up to eight hours after topical application. The higher the eucalyptol content of eucalyptus oil, the longer and more effectively it works as a repellent. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists lemon eucalyptus oil — derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree — as an approved and powerful insect repellant. Additionally, eucalyptus oil may treat head lice. In one randomised study, this oil was twice as effective as a popular head lice treatment at curing head lice. However, a recent review suggests that more research is needed. For this reason, eucalyptol is commonly added to mouthwash. (healthline)