Eucalyptus, a fragrant tree originating on the Australian continent, has been used for thousands of years for its potent medicinal properties. The plant’s essential oil is used as a component of aromatherapy and as a trace ingredient in cough drops and medicinal teas. Although dangerous to ingest by mouth in anything above minute quantities, eucalyptus oil is generally safe when it is used as directed.
Nevertheless, there are some eucalyptus oil contraindications. Do not use eucalyptus oil if you are in any of the following high-risk groups.
In aromatherapy, small amounts of well-diluted eucalyptus oil may be used by pregnant women. Cough drops containing eucalyptus may also be safe when they are used under the careful guidance of a qualified practitioner. However, stronger medicinal products made from eucalyptus oil are unsafe during pregnancy. They could cause miscarriage or preterm birth, and they may increase the risk of birth defects in the unborn baby.
Eucalyptus oil is unsafe for children. When taken by mouth or applied to the skin, it can cause serious breathing problems and even terminal liver failure. Trace amounts of eucalyptus may be used in aromatherapy for children over two years of age, but it is otherwise considered to be safe only for children over twelve.
People who will have Surgery
Many medicinal herbs are unsafe for people who will have surgery. Because eucalyptus oil can interfere with blood sugar levels, it may cause an unsafe drop or rise in blood glucose after a surgical procedure. This concern is particularly serious for people who have diabetes. Stop using eucalyptus oil at least two weeks prior to any surgical procedure, including tooth extractions.
The National Institutes of Health offers more information about eucalyptus oil contraindications.