Eucalyptus Essential Oil Reduces Spread of Tuberculosis

eucalyptus inhibits airborne spread of tuberculosis

Eucalyptus Flower. Eucalyptus inhibits tuberculosus. Photo by Michael Coghlan.

Research from the University of Illinois’ College of Pharmacy has found that eucalyptus essential oil can be used to stop the spread of tuberculosis from those who are contagious.

The researchers tested essential oil from the Eucalyptus citriodora – also called Corymbia citriodora – with airborne tuberculosis. The researchers found that the essential oil significantly inhibited the spread of airborne tuberculosis using eucalyptus essential oil with inhalation therapy.

The researchers then quantified 32 different anti-tuberculosis constituents – medicinal compounds that included eucalyptol, spathulenol, linalool, citronellol, isopulegol, terpineol, eudesmol, cadinol and others.

The researchers found that a combination of citronellol, linalool and eucalyptol inhibited airborne tuberculosis transmission by more than 90 percent.

Eucalyptus is antibacterial

This is not that surprising a result because eucalyptus essential oil has been found to be significantly antibacterial. A study from Germany’s Heidelberg University found that Eucalyptus essential oil from the Eucalyptus globules fruit was found to be significantly antibiotic against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

One of the main compounds found in this oil included aromadendrene at 31 percent. They found the eucalyptus leaf oil was not as antibiotic as the fruit essential oil.

In a study from Italy’s SOC Microbiology and Virology Clinic, researchers found the Eucalyptus smithii was srongly antibiotic against biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

This is not surprising to herbalists, who have used eucalyptus for healing bronchial infections for centuries.

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Tuberculosis Bacteria

Tuberculosis is spread mainly by an infection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but other bacteria can also be involved. TB can be spread via breathing, coughing or sneezing by an infected person. At least 10 percent of those who contract the bacteria will succumb to an active infection, which can be spread to others.

Signs of an active infection include fever, coughing, and blood in the sputum. While antibiotics are the conventional treatment, more TB bacteria are becoming resistant to multiple antibiotics.

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Preventing transmission

Preventing the transmission and an active infection requires preemptive action. This means avoiding people who cough or at least asking them to cover their coughing with their forearm if they are not already.

It is important to note that according to the World Health Organization (2002) nearly a third of the world’s population is already infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and about 80 percent of Asians and Africans test positive for TB.

Since this many people do not have active forms of the infection, this means that avoiding an active infection of TB relates directly to the strength of the immune system and the lungs. This can be done before or after being infected.


Having some eucalyptus essential oil with us when we are traveling is a good idea that may help us prevent an infection. We can apply some to a tissue and lay the tissue in our close presence. We can also apply some to our skin, but applying eucalyptus essential oil onto our skin should be done with caution, and preceded by first applying a small test drop.

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Ramos Alvarenga RF, Wan B, Inui T, Franzblau SG, Pauli GF, Jaki BU. Airborne antituberculosis activity of Eucalyptus citriodora essential oil. J Nat Prod. 2014 Mar 28;77(3):603-10. doi: 10.1021/np400872m.

Mulyaningsih S, Sporer F, Reichling J, Wink M. Antibacterial activity of essential oils from Eucalyptus and of selected components against multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens. Pharm Biol. 2011 Sep;49(9):893-9. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.553625.

Camporese A. In vitro activity of Eucalyptus smithii and Juniperus communis essential oils against bacterial biofilms and efficacy perspectives of complementary inhalation therapy in chronic and recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. Infez Med. 2013 Jun;21(2):117-24.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”