That being said, if you are looking to mix up your usual routine of squeezing extra antioxidants into your diet, try drinking eucalyptus tea. We love the super soothing vibes that fresh eucalyptus offers in the shower, but turns out it has some pretty impressive health benefits, too. “Eucalyptus is one of those botanicals that is really good for your immune system," says registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin, RD. "It helps to fight off or shorten the duration of a cold." Specifically, eucalyptus tea can help break up congestion in your lungs and respiratory system, making it easier to breathe when you’re feeling under the weather.
- Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and owner of BZ Nutrition
To learn more about this delicious drink—including its health benefits and how to make it—read on.
The health benefits of eucalyptus tea
Eucalyptus is high in flavonoids, a group of naturally occurring antioxidants that are found in many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. A 2019 study found that consuming a flavonoid-rich diet may protect against chronic illnesses such as cancer, dementia, and heart disease, though more research is needed to understand the scope of the claim, as well as the correlation between drinking eucalyptus tea and fighting chronic illness. “There are very few studies that draw a direct correlation between drinking eucalyptus and chronic illness, but there are a lot of studies that draw a correlation between the flavonoids that are the antioxidants found in eucalyptus, and chronic illness,” Zeitlin explains.
While there’s no scientific proof that drinking eucalyptus tea will prevent colds and flus altogether, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to show that it certainly is beneficial for the immune system. Fear not: In the unfortunate event that you’re already fighting off a cold, drinking eucalyptus tea will still help reduce congestion.
Will Cole, FMCP, DNM, DC, a leading functional medicine expert and best-selling author, adds that in addition to helping clear up congestion, eucalyptus tea has antimicrobial properties. "[It] can be a game-changer for clearing up congestion and is full of antibacterial properties," Dr. Cole says. A 2010 study says that eucalyptus oil does in fact have antimicrobial effects against many types of bacteria. “Application by either vapor inhalation or oral route provides benefit for both purulent and non-purulent respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” according to the study’s authors. There’s not enough research to prove the antifungal and antimicrobial benefits of eucalyptus tea specifically, but there’s clearly evidence that eucalyptus in many forms is beneficial for your overall immune health.
How to make eucalyptus tea
If you’re sipping a cup of eucalyptus tea made with store-bought tea bags, Zeitlin says that one to two cups a day is great. However, if you make your own, she recommends limiting it to just eight ounces of eucalyptus tea per day, as the fresh leaves are far more potent. If you’re using fresh eucalyptus, let the leaves steep for about 10 minutes to maximize their health benefits in your mug; if you’re sticking to store-bought, follow the manufacturer’s instructions (as a rule, most tea bags should steep for four to seven minutes). If you do choose to make your own, be sure to get the leaves from a reputable retailer; Zeitlin likes stocking up at Mountain Rose Herbs. “You can also combine it with other immune-boosting ingredients like ginger and turmeric,” says Zeitlin. Try adding a one-inch strip of fresh ginger or a quarter teaspoon of ground turmeric to a hot cup of eucalyptus tea.
Oh, and like most food and beverages, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your OB/GYN to ensure the safety of drinking eucalyptus tea. For what it’s worth, there’s no research to suggest that it’s not safe to consume during this period, but always good to double-check.
Where to buy it
If you don’t want to make your own tea using fresh eucalyptus leaves, there are tons of delicious options available at grocery stores and big box retailers. Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat contains a small amount of soothing eucalyptus that will ease congestion in your throat and chest. Rishi Tea Quince Eucalyptus Tea is another solid option; the brand is known for its high-quality, super flavorful blends and this one is no exception. When in doubt, turn to Amazon shoppers; more than 1,000 of them love Buddha Teas Organic Eucalyptus Tea, which contains exclusively organic eucalyptus. Bonus: All three of these picks are less than $8 per box—cheaper than cold medicine and way more delicious.
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