No studies have been undertaken. The essential oil is not teratogenic in animal studies, but doses of 500 mg/kg cross the placenta in large enough amounts to stimulate (Jori & Briatico 1973) hepatic activity in rodents. Aromatherapists do not use eucalyptus essential oil during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING
• Eucalyptus essential oils are steam distilled from a number of Eucalyptus species, and have different chemical composition depending on the species. Most contain a large proportion of 1,8-cineole, which appears to be responsible for the action on the respiratory system.
• Eucalyptus is primarily used in aromatherapy as an inhalation to relieve nasal congestion and in massage to relieve muscular aches and pain, as well as in ointments, gels, and compresses, and via a vapouriser for mental stimulation and to aid concentration.
• It is used internally in lozenges, tinctures and conventional medicines.
• When used topically in an appropriate manner, eucalyptus oil is considered safe; however, several cautions exist to reduce the risk of adverse reactions and toxicity. People using eucalyptus essential oil should be monitored for allergies and it should not be applied to the face of children. Eucalyptus should not be used internally unless it is diluted and used in the recommended doses and dose intervals.
• Signs of poisoning usually occur rapidly and include confusion, irritability, respiratory distress, hypotension, nausea and vomiting. If poisoning is suspected medical care should be sought urgently. Do not induce vomiting. Use charcoal and monitor consciousness.
• Several drug interactions are theoretically possible; however, their clinical significance is unknown.
ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What will this essential oil do for me?
Eucalyptus essential oil can be used in a vapouriser or on tissues to help clear the nose and make breathing easier in the presence of URTI. It can also increase mental alertness. In a massage blend eucalyptus can help relieve muscular and arthritic pain.
Eucalyptus oil can be added to the washing machine to help kill dust mites in human clothes and animal bedding. Dust mites are responsible for many respiratory conditions, such as asthma. When will it start to work?
Inhaled eucalyptus oil usually acts quickly and provides symptomatic relief quickly. Oral doses and massage blends usually take longer to have an effect. Are there any safety issues?
Ingested eucalyptus oil has caused poisoning especially in children and therefore any source of the oil, including vapourisers, should be placed out of reach.
Eucalyptus can irritate the eyes and mucus membranes. It should be kept away from the face, especially of children.
Ingested eucalyptus oil could affect the action of some medicines such as antidepressants, sedatives and anaesthetic agents. It increases absorption of nicotine.
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