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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Eucalyptus for Sports & Fitness
Some athletes say that eucalyptus helps relieve muscle soreness.
Eucalyptus contains substances related to menthol, and has a warming effect on the skin and muscles. This could result in a pain-relieving effect on sore muscles, but research is needed to confirm this.
Eucalyptus-based rubs have been found to warm muscles in athletes.1 This suggests that eucalyptus may help relieve minor muscle soreness when applied topically, though studies are needed to confirm this possibility.
Side effects from the internal use of eucalyptus can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Eucalyptus oil should not be used by infants and children under the age of two, especially near the face and nose, due to the risk of airway spasm and possible cessation of breathing.2 The oil may aggravate bronchial spasms in people with asthma and should not be taken internally by those with severe liver diseases and inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and kidney.3, 4 Whole-body application of eucalyptus oil (double-distilled, containing 80 to 85% cineole oil) resulted in severe nervous system toxicity in a six-year-old girl.5 In a case report, a 4-year-old girl suffered a seizure after application of a eucalyptus oil preparation to the hair and scalp for the treatment of head lice.6 Eucalyptus should not be used in large amounts by people with low blood pressure as it may cause a further drop in blood pressure.7 The safety of eucalyptus oil has not been established in pregnant or nursing women.
Although there are no known reports of drug interactions, the German Commission E monograph suggests that because eucalyptus oil may activate certain enzyme systems in the liver, it may potentially weaken or shorten the action of some medications, including pentobarbital, aminopyrine, and amphetamine.8, 9
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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