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Eucalyptus is sold as a supplement and as an ingredient in over-the-counter products. Eucalyptus supplements have been promoted for cough/bronchitis and rheumatism. Eucalyptus as an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs is used for temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and for temporary relief of nasal congestion and coughs associated with a cold.

The medicinal properties of Eucalyptus reside in its oil, which is extracted from the fresh leaves and branch tips, as well as dried leaves. Eucalyptus leaf (Eucalypti folium) is an approved remedy of the German Government's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Commission E) for catarrhs of the respiratory tract. Eucalyptus oil (Eucalypti aetheroleum) is approved for internal and external catarrhs of the respiratory tract and externally for rheumatic complaints.

Cautions and Side-Effects

Eucalyptus supplementation is inadvisable for children, adolescents, older or chronically ill people, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, and anyone with low blood pressure, kidney problems, stomach problems, intestinal or biliary inflammation or liver disorders. Insulin-dependent diabetics should carefully monitor blood sugar since eucalyptus may affect blood sugar levels.

Eucalyptus may affect the metabolism and clearance of drugs like phenobarbital, aminopyrine, and amphetamine by the liver. Anyone taking such medication should avoid the use of eucalyptus.

Life-threatening poisonings have been reported from overdoses of eucalyptus oil. Initial symptoms of toxicity are epigastric pain and vomiting, followed by central nervous system depression, and coma. Other potential adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Only a few drops of eucalyptus oil are enough to cause life-threatening poisoning in some children. Adults have been poisoned with only 4 to 5 milliliters. Symptoms of overdose include a drop in blood pressure, circulation problems, collapse, and asphyxiation. In the event of overdose, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

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