Eucalyptus Oil for Sinus, Colds, Coughs and Flu

When it comes to natural ingredients in pharmaceuticals and alternative remedies, eucalyptus oil shines as a common ingredient found in many medicines devised to take care of sinus issues, colds, flu, and coughs. Extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, this essential oil has become the de facto essential oil to soothe respiratory discomfort.

Check the ingredients of your flu medicine. Whether it’s in nasal sprays, cough syrups, throat lozenges, or chest rubs, eucalyptus oil is an effective solution for respiratory symptoms that is found everywhere. Its widespread use highlights its importance in promoting respiratory health, making it a must have in fighting common respiratory ailments.

History Of Eucalyptus As A Remedy In Traditional Medicine

Eucalyptus goes way back in history as a therapeutic remedy and finds mention in traditional medicine systems. Its presence dates back centuries and spans diverse cultures around the world. The Indigenous aborigines of Australia (where eucalyptus trees are native) were among the first to recognize and make use of the medicinal properties of eucalyptus leaves. Here’s a brief overview of eucalyptus in traditional medicine:

Indigenous Australian Medicine

Aboriginal Australians have a long-standing tradition of using various parts of the eucalyptus tree for medicinal purposes. They would crush eucalyptus leaves to extract their juices / oils, which were then used topically for wound healing and also as an antiseptic. Additionally, inhaling the vapor from eucalyptus leaves was believed to alleviate respiratory issues and clear congestion.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Eucalyptus made its way into traditional Chinese medicine, where it was known as “Gumby Gumby.” Here, eucalyptus leaves were used to treat respiratory infections, bronchitis, and asthma. Its cooling properties were also used as a mean to alleviate fever symptoms.

Indian Ayurveda

In Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient healing system of India, eucalyptus is widely used. Here, it is known as “Tailapatra” or “Nilgiri.” Eucalyptus leaves were used in various ways to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, colds, and sinusitis. Its expectorant properties were made use of in clearing phlegm from the respiratory tract.

European Folk Medicine

With trade routes opening up, Eucalyptus gained popularity in European folk medicine during the 19th century. It was introduced to Europe by early explorers and became known for its antiseptic and expectorant properties. Eucalyptus oil was used topically for wounds and skin infections, as well as inhaled to relieve respiratory congestion.

Modern Era Herbalism

With advancements in science and medicine, eucalyptus oil became a common stay in modern herbalism. Its active compound, cineole, was identified as the primary contributor to its medicinal properties. Eucalyptus oil gained recognition for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant effects, leading to its widespread use in pharmaceuticals and natural remedies.

All in all, the history of eucalyptus leaves and oil as a remedy in traditional medicine underscores its historic reputation as a versatile and effective healing and decongestant agent. Its journey from indigenous healing practices to modern pharmaceutical highlights its significance in promoting respiratory health and thereby overall well-being.

Eucalyptus Oil for Sinus, Colds, Coughs and Flu

Before we get into the crux of the article let’s understand what these ailments are, their causes and symptoms.

What is Cold?

A cold, also known as the common cold, is a viral infection affecting the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms often include a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, sneezing, mild body aches, and fatigue. Let’s discuss causes. Rhinoviruses are the most common cause of colds. Other viruses such as (the never to be forgotten) coronaviruses and adenoviruses can also cause cold. Colds are highly contagious and usually spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

What is Cough?

Coughing is nothing but a reflex action triggered by irritation or inflammation in the throat or respiratory tract. It is simply the body’s mechanism for clearing mucus, irritants, or foreign particles from the airways. Coughs can be acute, i.e. lasting for a few days to a few weeks, or chronic, i.e. persisting for several weeks or longer. Common causes of coughing include viral infections like colds and flu, allergies, asthma, and environmental irritants such as smoke or pollutants.

What is Sinus?

Sinusitis, commonly referred to as sinus infection or simply sinus (issues), is the inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. But what are sinuses? The sinuses are air-filled cavities located behind the forehead, cheeks, and eyes. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, bacteria, viruses, or fungi can grow, leading to infection. Symptoms of sinusitis include facial pain or pressure, nasal congestion, thick nasal discharge, reduced sense of smell, cough, and fatigue. Common triggers for sinusitis include viral infections, allergies, nasal polyps, and structural abnormalities in the nasal passages.

What is flu?

The Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects the respiratory system. Flu viruses are categorized into three types – A, B, and C. The types A and B viruses causes seasonal outbreaks of flu in humans. Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, body aches, headache, sore throat, and fatigue. Severe cases of flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia, and bronchitis. Influenza viruses spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

Difference Between Cold, Cough, Sinus and Flu

A cold is a viral infection causing symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and mild body aches. Coughing is a reflex action to clear irritants from the respiratory tract, triggered by various factors like viral infections or allergies. Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus tissue, resulting in symptoms such as facial pain, congestion, and reduced sense of smell. Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by sudden onset of fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, and fatigue, caused by influenza viruses.

What is Eucalyptus Essential Oil?

Eucalyptus essential oil is a concentrated liquid extracted from the leaves of the versatile eucalyptus tree. The method of extraction is steam distillation. It contains various bioactive compounds or active ingredients including cineole, that give it its characteristic aroma and therapeutic properties. Eucalyptus essential oil is valued for its decongestant, expectorant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which make it a popular remedy for respiratory issues such as sinus congestion, coughs, and colds. Additionally, it’s used in aromatherapy for its refreshing scent and potential to promote relaxation and mental clarity.

Active Ingredients in Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil contains several active ingredients, with the most prominent one being cineole, also known as eucalyptol. Cineole is responsible for many of the oil’s therapeutic properties, including its decongestant, expectorant, and antimicrobial effects. Other significant constituents found in eucalyptus essential oil include alpha-pinene, limonene, alpha-terpineol, and piperitone, each contributing to its overall aroma and medicinal properties. These compounds work synergistically to provide relief from respiratory issues such as congestion, coughs, and sinusitis, while also offering benefits for mental clarity and relaxation when used in aromatherapy. The antimicrobial properties of cineole rich Australian eucalyptus essential oil has been investigated in research, which has been published in the journal Microorganisms. [1]

Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil for Respiratory System

Eucalyptus oil offers several benefits for the respiratory system:

Decongestant: Eucalyptus oil helps to clear congestion in the nasal passages / respiratory tract and sinuses by loosening mucus, thus facilitating its expulsion. This makes breathing easier for individuals experiencing nasal or sinus congestion due to colds, allergies, or sinusitis.

Expectorant: The oil supports the break down and expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract, making it beneficial for relieving coughs associated with colds, flu, bronchitis, or other respiratory infections. By assisting in the removal of phlegm, eucalyptus oil helps to alleviate coughing and thereby improve respiratory function.

Anti-inflammatory: Eucalyptus oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation or swelling in the respiratory tract, easing symptoms including sore throat, coughing, and sinus discomfort. This property contributes to overall respiratory comfort and well-being.

Antimicrobial: The oil exhibits antimicrobial and antibacterial activity (because of cineole and other ingredients) against bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which can help prevent or treat respiratory infections. Using eucalyptus oil may help reduce the risk of respiratory infections or shorten their duration by inhibiting the growth of pathogens responsible for such illnesses.

Dilation of Airways: Inhalation of eucalyptus oil vapors in aromatherapy can help dilate the airways, allowing for easier breathing. This is useful for individuals with conditions like asthma or other respiratory ailments including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This provides relief from wheezing and shortness of breath.

Mucolytic: Eucalyptus oil has mucolytic properties, meaning it helps to break down and thin out mucus. Combined with its expectorant properties it makes expelling phlegm from the nasal passage easier. This action can alleviate congestion and promote clearer airways, reducing discomfort and supporting respiratory health.

Overall, eucalyptus oil offers a range of benefits for the respiratory system, including decongestant, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, airway dilation, and mucolytic effects. The use of eucalyptus oil into respiratory care routines can help alleviate symptoms, support respiratory function, and promote overall well-being. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Herbal Medicines ratified the properties of eucalyptus oil. [2]

How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Sinus, Colds, Coughs and Flu

Eucalyptus oil can be used in various ways to alleviate symptoms associated with sinus issues, colds, coughs, and flu. Here are some effective methods:

1. Steam Inhalation

Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl, and inhale the steam deeply for several minutes. This can help loosen mucus, clear nasal congestion, and relieve sinus pressure.

2. Topical Application

Dilute eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or olive oil. Apply the diluted mixture to your chest, throat, forehead and temples for relief from coughs, congestion, and headaches that usually comes with colds and flu. You can also massage the diluted oil onto the bottoms of your feet before bedtime for added respiratory support.

3. Aromatherapy

The most common use of essential oil is also useful for colds and coughs. Diffuse eucalyptus oil in a room using an essential oil diffuser. The aromatic vapors will help clear nasal passages, reduce congestion, and create a refreshing atmosphere. One can also inhale eucalyptus oil directly from the bottle or apply a drop to a handkerchief and inhale deeply.

4. Hot Bath

This is the best method of pampering yourself when suffering from flu. Add several drops of eucalyptus oil to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes. The steam from the bathwater will help open up your airways, relieve congestion, and promote relaxation. This is especially beneficial for easing symptoms of colds and flu while soothing sore muscles.

5. Throat Gargle

Mix a drop of eucalyptus oil with warm water and use it as a gargle to soothe a sore throat. It will reduce inflammation of throat. Be sure to spit out the mixture after gargling. Do not ingest essential oils.

6. Nasal Rinse

Add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to a saline solution and use it to irrigate your nasal passages with a neti pot or nasal spray bottle. This can help clear nasal congestion, flush out allergens and irritants, and relieve sinus pressure.

Read the section on precautions while using eucalyptus oil for sinus, colds, coughs and flu to avoid side effects.

DIY Recipes of Eucalyptus Oil for Sinus, Colds, Coughs and Flu

Here are some simple DIY recipes using eucalyptus oil to help alleviate symptoms of sinus issues, colds, coughs, and flu:

Recipe #1 – Steam Inhalation Blend:


  • 3 cups of hot steaming water
  • 5-10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • Towel


  • Taking boiling water and transfer it to a large bowl.
  • Add 5-10 drops of eucalyptus oil to the hot water.
  • Lean over the bowl, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam deeply for 5-10 minutes.
  • Do this till the steam subsides.
  • Repeat this steam inhalation treatment 2-3 times a day to help clear sinus congestion and relieve respiratory discomfort.

Recipe #2 – Eucalyptus Chest Rub:


  • 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil (or any carrier oil)
  • 5-8 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil (optional, for added cooling sensation)


  • Mix the eucalyptus essential oil with the carrier oil (coconut oil) in a small bowl.
  • Also add peppermint oil for best results for its cooling effect.
  • Stir well to combine the oils thoroughly.
  • Massage the chest rub onto your chest, throat, forehead and back before bedtime to help relieve coughs, congestion, and promote easier breathing.

Recipe #3 – Shower Melts with Eucalyptus Oil:


  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 10-15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil


  • Preheat the oven.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine baking soda and water to form a thick paste.
  • Add eucalyptus essential oil to the paste and mix well.
  • Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the shower melts are firm.
  • Let the shower melts to cool completely before removing them from the molds.
  • Place one shower melt on the floor of your steam shower, away from direct water, and let the steam activate the eucalyptus aroma, thereby providing relief from congestion and sinus pressure.

These DIY recipes are natural, effective and fun ways to use eucalyptus oil into your routine to help manage symptoms of sinus issues, colds, coughs, and flu. Feel free to adjust the essential oil concentrations based on your preference and sensitivity, and always perform a patch test before applying any new mixture to your skin.

Precautions to Follow

When using eucalyptus oil for sinus issues, colds, coughs, and flu, it’s essential to follow these precautions:

  • Dilute Properly: Always dilute eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, or olive oil before applying it to the skin.
  • Patch Test: Before using eucalyptus oil topically, perform a patch test by applying a small amount of diluted oil to a small area of skin.
  • Avoid Contact with Eyes and other Sensitive Parts: Avoid getting eucalyptus oil near the eyes, ears or mouth.
  • Use with Caution around Children: Eucalyptus oil should be used with caution around infants and young children. Always dilute concentrated eucalyptus oil.
  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Pregnant and nursing women should consult with a professional before using eucalyptus oil.
  • Do Not Ingest: Eucalyptus oil is not safe for ingestion and should not be swallowed. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.
  • Consult a Professional: Always consult a physician or aromatherapist before using essential oils, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

By following these precautions, you can safely and effectively use eucalyptus oil into your respiratory care and promote respiratory health.


Eucalyptus oil is a versatile and potent natural remedy for addressing respiratory issues including sinus issues, colds, coughs, and flu. It has decongestant, expectorant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a valuable tool in respiratory care. Whether used in steam inhalations, chest rubs, or aromatherapy, eucalyptus oil offers effective relief from respiratory symptoms while promoting relaxation and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is eucalyptus oil good for colds and flu?

Eucalyptus oil contains compounds like eucalyptol that can ease nasal congestion and promote easier breathing during colds and flu. Its aroma may also provide a soothing effect. Always use it safely.

Is eucalyptus oil good for sinus?

Yes, eucalyptus oil is good for sinus congestion due to its decongestant and expectorant properties. It can help clear nasal passages and promote easier breathing. 

How do you use eucalyptus oil for a cold and cough?

Some of the ways in which eucalyptus oil can be used for a cold and cough are – inhalation aromatherapy, steam inhalation, and topical application on the nose, throat and temples.

How do you use eucalyptus oil for sinuses?

Take a bowl of hot water and add 3-6 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to it. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale the steam for 2-3 minutes. Repeat this process 3-4 times in a day.

Can I rub eucalyptus oil on my throat?

Yes, but only after diluting it properly with a carrier oil (including coconut oil or olive oil). Generally, 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil should be diluted in a tablespoon of carrier oil.

Can I rub my chest with eucalyptus oil?

Yes, you can rub your chest with eucalyptus oil, but dilute it properly with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil before applying it to the skin. Diluting it helps prevent skin irritation.