Eucalyptus Tea Benefits and Side Effects

Eucalyptus herbal tea.
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Eucalyptus tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the Australian eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) tree. This hot tea is commonly used to treat symptoms of cold and flu and can be combined with other teas as a soothing tonic. Eucalyptus tea benefits have been studied by researchers with mixed results. 

What Is Eucalyptus Tea?

There are different varieties of the eucalyptus tree but the one used for the preparation of eucalyptus tea and eucalyptus oil is commonly called the blue gum tree or the Australian fever tree. This fast-growing tree produces long, leathery grey-greenish leaves. The leaf glands contain a volatile oil (also called an essential oil) known as eucalyptus oil. 

Eucalyptus tea should be made from crushed leaves of the tree, not from the oil that is extracted from the leaves. So the warm drink is sometimes called eucalyptus leaves tea, to avoid confusion.

The tea has a pale green color and a strong scent that some describe as woody or pine-like. Others describe the scent of eucalyptus as clean or fresh. Since many lip balms and skin creams are made with eucalyptus, the scent is familiar to many consumers.

How to Make Eucalyptus Tea

Eucalyptus tea bags or loose leaf tea can be purchased in many grocery stores, health markets, and online. Follow instructions for tea preparation provided on the box.

You can also prepare eucalyptus leaves tea at home. It is important that you prepare the tea with leaves and not with eucalyptus oil. Using the essential (volatile) oil may produce harmful side effects.

How to Prepare Eucalyptus Leaf Tea at Home

  • Use one dried eucalyptus leaf (about a teaspoon) to make your tea. Add the crushed tea leaf to the bottom of an eight-ounce teacup. 
  • Heat water to 90-95º Celsius or 194-205º Fahrenheit. If you don't have a temperature-controlled teapot, bring water to a boil and then let sit for a minute to reduce the temperature just slightly. 
  • Pour six ounces of water over the tea leaves.
  • Let tea leaves steep for as long as desired, up to 10 minutes
  • Breathe in eucalyptus vapors while the tea is steeping
  • Strain loose leaves from the cup before drinking

Adding honey to your eucalyptus tea will add sweetness. If you are drinking the tea to soothe a sore throat, the honey may help to ease symptoms as well.  You may also choose to blend eucalyptus leaf tea with peppermint or chamomile to increase the soothing properties of the tea.

Does Eucalyptus Tea Contain Caffeine?

Eucalyptus tea is not a "tea" in the traditional sense and is not made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, like black tea or green tea. It is brewed just leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which does not contain any caffeine. Therefore eucalyptus tea is completely caffeine-free, although the vapors are sometimes described as bright and invigorating.

Eucalyptus Tea Health Benefits

Most scientific research focusing on the health benefits of eucalyptus is done using eucalyptus oil, rather than eucalyptus tea. The oil is much more concentrated than the tea so you are not likely to gain the same benefits from drinking the tea. However, according to Medical News Today, the leaves are known to the are known to contain flavonoids and tannins that provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eucalyptus tea is commonly used as an inhalant to relieve symptoms of the common cold or flu. The tea vapors are often described as healing because inhaling them helps to open up congested airways.

In addition to treatment for the common cold, people use eucalyptus to gain a variety of other health benefits including:

  • treatment of asthma
  • treatment for bronchitis
  • treatment for diabetes
  • to reduce dental plaque and bad breath 
  • to eliminate head lice
  • to avoid insect bites
  • to get rid of headaches
  • to treat liver and gallbladder problems

However, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Databasethere is not enough scientific evidence to support these uses.

The strong scent of eucalyptus is also used in the manufacturing of home products such as candles and potpourri because people enjoy the fragrance. Toothpaste, mouthwash, bath products, and body creams made with eucalyptus are also commonly found in home goods stores.

Eucalyptus Tea Side Effects

Eucalyptus leaf is probably safe when consumed in the small amounts found in foods, according to The National Institutes of Health. However, there isn't enough information to know if supplements that contain larger amounts of eucalyptus leaf are safe when taken by mouth.

Eucalyptus oil may not be safe when applied to the skin and is probably unsafe when taken by mouth if it is not diluted. According to the Therapeutic Research Center, "Taking 3.5 mL of undiluted oil can be fatal. Signs of eucalyptus poisoning might include stomach pain and burning, dizziness, muscle weakness, small eye pupils, feelings of suffocation, and some others. Eucalyptus oil can also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea."

It is always safest to speak with your healthcare provider before using this or any other herbal treatment.

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