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Cold and Flu Center

Eucalyptus Vapor for Cold & Flu Treatment

author image Eliza Martinez
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.
Eucalyptus Vapor for Cold & Flu Treatment
A woman sick in bed with tissues all around her. Photo Credit: pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

When you have a cold or flu, you may want to treat your symptoms without having to take medication. Eucalyptus is often used to treat the stuffiness, coughing and nasal congestion that occurs with both illnesses. Always talk with a doctor before using any type of alternative medicine, especially if you have other health conditions.

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What Is Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a tree and both the leaves and the tree's oil are used in medicinal treatments. The oil is made from distilling the leaves and is used in topical treatments. The leaves of the eucalyptus tree can be consumed to treat some of the symptoms of a cold or flu. Many modern medicines contain eucalyptus and the oil and leaves can be purchased at health food store or through Internet sites.

Why It Works

The strong smell of eucalyptus can help to clear your sinuses and make it easier to breathe when you suffer from a cold or the flu. The scent is also refreshing to some people, which offers comfort when ill. Eucalyptus has antibiotic properties, which helps to fight off the bacteria or virus that is making you sick. It can also work as an expectorant, loosening mucous and helping you expel it from your body and can help soothe a cough as well.

How To Administer

There are many ways to use eucalyptus oil so trying them all will help you determine which method offers you the most relief. Use eucalyptus oil in a steamy shower or bath to combat congestion. Simply add a few drops to the running water and inhale as you bathe. Many bubble bath products are infused with eucalyptus and can be found where bath products are sold. Try placing a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in your humidifier while you sleep, which can make you more comfortable. Try Vicks VapoRub, or similar products, which can be applied directly to your chest to help loosen mucous and clear your nose, making it easier to breathe. Try eucalyptus leaves as a tea and drink regularly, which will help kill the germs that caused your flu or cold to develop.


Children under age 6 should never ingest eucalyptus oil or leaves and should not be given any type of lozenge that contains it. People with asthma may not experience relief when using eucalyptus and should only do so under a doctor's care. If you have other health problems or are on any medication, eucalyptus may cause adverse reactions so talk with your doctor first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oil is toxic when taken internally and must be diluted to prevent sickness.

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