Essential oils have become very popular nowadays and are widely used for their medicinal properties. One such essential oil is eucalyptus oil. It is 100% natural and popularly used as a decongestant for respiratory problems. Babies are prone to cold and fever and as a mother you want to try using home remedies rather than loading your baby with medicines. So you might be tempted to use the old tried and tested eucalyptus oil for your baby’s sniffles and snuffles too. However, do you know that eucalyptus oil is recommended to be avoided for children who are under 10 years of age? Intrigued? Read on.
Benefits Of Using Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is obtained leaves and branches of eucalyptus tree. Once the oil is extracted, it needs to be diluted before it can be used as an essential oil for medicinal purposes. Eucalyptus oil is the superstar of all essential oil and known for its great benefits. Some of the benefits include:
- It is anti-microbial. This means that it can kill germs and microbes
- It is anti-septic. This means it can prevent the growth of microorganisms and hence can contain an infection
- It is anti-inflammatory. This means it can reduce inflammation
Thanks to all these properties eucalyptus oil is widely used as a home remedy to heal a variety of problems. In fact, it is the go-to medicine for any respiratory-related problems such as cold and wheezing, where few drops eucalyptus oil are poured into the water before taking steam.
What Are The Compounds Present In Eucalyptus Oil?
Eucalyptus oil is extracted from eucalyptus leaves. Depending on how many times the oil has been distilled, the compounds and its quantities differ in any given sample of the oil. But in general, there are over 100 compounds in eucalyptus oil.
- The key component in any eucalyptus oil is cineole. This is the chemical component that gives eucalyptus oil most of its amazing therapeutic properties. It constitutes 60% to 80% of the oil
- Another compound is limonene. It constitutes about 10% of the oil and takes its name from lemon as it is usually found in the peels of citrus fruits such as lemon
- Pinene is another compound which constitutes just less than 10% of the oil. It is an aromatic compound and takes its name from pine trees
- Other components seen in smaller quantities are phellandrene, camphor and sabinene
All these components help eucalyptus oil have healing properties.
Why Can’t We Use Eucalyptus Oil On Babies?
There are multiple reasons why eucalyptus oil is not recommended for babies:
- The cineole present in eucalyptus oil can create nervous and breathing related problems in children. That said, some distilled versions of eucalyptus oil contain lower amounts of cineole. However, even these are not safe to be used on babies since there are other compounds present in the oil that makes it harmful for the kids
- Unlike oils such as almond oil and coconut oil, eucalyptus oil is very strong. Your babies’ skin is very soft and sensitive and the strong nature of eucalyptus oil might result in rashes, burns and irritation on babies’ skin
- Some babies face stronger gastronomical side effects, such as stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Ingestion is also a common side effects
- Although rare, some babies show some severe reaction to eucalyptus oil – whether it is applied topically or consumed. These reactions include seizures and even at times coma
Important Things To Remember About Eucalyptus Oil
- Since eucalyptus oil can cause respiratory related problems, it definitely should not be applied near the nose and mouth of children
- Keep it out of reach of small children so that they do not accidentally come in contact of it
- Make sure your smaller babies do not ingest eucalyptus oil accidentally. Remember that the side effects might be more severe if the family has a history of respiratory problems such as asthma
- If your baby comes in contact with eucalyptus oil or ingest it by mistake, and the baby shows signs of breathing difficulty, immediately take him to the emergency room
- Some parents assume that as long the oil is “diluted” with water or other medicines, it will not harm the babies. This is not true. Babies are small and even a very small quantity can have adverse effects. So be careful
- Do not use eucalyptus oil in humidifier or vaporizer as even inhaling this strong oil can bring about reactions and side effects in children
What Can You Use To Treat Your Baby’s congestion Instead Of Eucalyptus Oil?
For children below 2 years of age it is recommended to avoid any essential oil and instead use the following ways to relieve your baby from congestion:
- Nasal Aspirator: Use a nasal aspirator to clear any mucus from your baby’s nose and clear the airways so that he can breathe easy and happy
- Hot water compress: To loosen up thick mucus that is blocking your baby’s nose, throat and chest and making him uncomfortable, all you need to do is dip a small cotton cloth in hot water and squeeze out excess water. Apply this hot water compress on his nose, throat and chest to provide your baby some relief from congestion. Make sure the cloth is mildly hot as baby’s skin is very sensitive
Also Read: 5 Effective Ways To Clean Your Baby’s Nose
In conclusion, although eucalyptus oil has many medicinal and therapeutic properties which can help heal adults from many ailments, it is not a suitable home remedy for your children, especially the ones below 10 years of age. That said, eucalyptus oil is not a “dangerous” substance. It is just that children tend to have side effects if it is inhaled, applied topically or ingested and it is best to exercise caution.
We hope that you got some useful information about eucalyptus oil in this article. If you anything more to add to it , please do share with us in the comments section below.