Does Eucalyptus Oil Treat Colds and Flu? Is It Safe?

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A lot of people are talking about the benefits of eucalyptus oil. It is believed, by the many people who use it, that eucalyptus oil can be used not only as a treatment, but as a prophylactic measure. In other words, the people that use it believe you can

Disclaimer: This article does not advise or promote the use of eucalyptus to treat any form of illness.

A lot of people are talking about the benefits of eucalyptus oil. It is believed, by the many people who use it, that eucalyptus oil can be used not only as a treatment, but as a prophylactic measure. In other words, the people that use it believe you can use eucalyptus oil to prevent the onset of symptoms of the cold and flu.

I got the idea of writing an article about eucalyptus oil because a dear friend of mine started having cold symptoms when her husband came down sick with cold and flu symptoms. She has to work and take care of her mom 3 days a week, so she can’t afford to get sick. She has been using eucalyptus tablets, by mouth, for about a month now, and her symptoms went away and she is still symptom free after a month’s time. She did not report any bad effects from taking the tablets.

How does eucalyptus oil work to treat colds and flu?

Many people inhale the essence from eucalyptus oil to protect themselves from cold and flu viruses. I learned about the possible benefits of eucalyptus oil from two different friends. One friend has severe respiratory problems and is on oxygen full time. Sometimes the inflammation in her respiratory tract is so severe that she has to go to the hospital. She learned about eucalyptus oil and started using it. She has not had to go to the hospital since. She believes the eucalyptus oil prevented her from getting sick.

The other friend told me she started having cold symptoms. Her husband had a cold, and she was beginning to get sick. Because she had to work and care for her mother, she was burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. She treated herself with eucalyptus tablets over several weeks and the cold symptoms went away and she never got sick. I wanted to find out how eucalyptus oil worked to prevent illness, and I found that it seems to boost the immune system.

My friends told me that eucalyptus can be inhaled by applying a few drops of the oil onto a handkerchief or a cotton ball. My friend applies eucalyptus oil to a handkerchief and pins it to her pillow case so that she can inhale it as she sleeps.

Some studies have been done using eucalyptus oil have shown that the person being treated with it has increased activity of the phagocytes. Phagocytes are a type of white blood cell that eats unfriendly bacteria and other particles in the blood. In one particular study the person inhales the fumes from the eucalyptus oil. In essence, inhaling eucalyptus oil seems to turn up the immune system so that the white blood cells will attack and consume bacteria and other foreign invaders. The study showed that the inflammatory process within the body is reduced when people inhaled eucalyptus. Studies have been done on people having the H1N1 flu. H1N1 causes inflammation in the lungs. The study showed that eucalyptus inhalant reduces the inflammation caused by the virus. You can read more about phagocytic (white blood cell) activity here.

Eucalyptus oil can be used in many ways. It can be used in a diffuser to put eucalyptus in your environment. It can be applied topically to the skin to be inhaled. It also can be used to relieve aches and pains. Users of eucalyptus oil claim that it helps to relieve pain, works as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent, works as an anti-inflammatory agent, acts as a decongestant and expectorant. Eucalyptus can be also be taken in pill form.

Warnings about taking eucalyptus taken by mouth

People taking eucalyptus by mouth should not do so unless under the direction of a physician. There could be possible side effects such as stomach cramps, seizures, irregular heart rhythms, vomiting, coma and death.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should not use any form of eucalyptus. There is no proof that eucalyptus enters into the breast milk, but some infant deaths have occurred in women who used eucalyptus while breast feeding.

Bottom line

The bottom line concerning eucalyptus oil is that some studies show that eucalyptus oil improves the immune system. Other researchers believe that more research needs to be done and there is no significant proof that eucalyptus oil is a viable treatment or prevention of illnesses. Anyone using eucalyptus oil or tablets should do so only under the advisement of their physician.


Eucalyptus oil is used by many people as a prophylactic to prevent illness. They report that you don’t have to wait until you become ill to treat yourself with the essence of eucalyptus oil. It is reported that inhaling the essence of eucalyptus oil serves a double purpose. Molecules of eucalyptus oil enter the respiratory tract when the fumes are inhaled. The oil coats the mucous membranes and simultaneously reduces inflammation and destroys bacteria and viruses.

Some people prefer lavender or Melissa oil to prevent illness. I know people who have used lavender and they report that their symptoms of illness went away after using these oils for a few days and nights.

Would I use eucalyptus oil to treat my respiratory problem? No. I wouldn’t inhale eucalyptus oil or take the tablets unless my doctor agreed that it would be beneficial. Knowing the possible side effects, I don’t believe I would use it. The only things I use with eucalyptus in them (that I know of) are Halls cough drops and Vicks Vapor Rub. Neither of these things has prevented me from getting sick.


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