Lemon Eucalyptus

What other names is Lemon Eucalyptus known by?

Citron-Scent Gum, Corymbia citriodora, Eucalipto con Olor a Limón, Eucalipto Limón, Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus Citronné, Eucalyptus à Odeur de Citronnelle, Gomme à Odeur de Citronnelle, Gommier à Odeur de Citronnelle, Lemon Scented Gum, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, OLE, P-menthane Diol, P-menthane-3,8-Diol, Para-menthane-3,8-diol, PMD, Quwenling, Spotted Gum, Wild Eucalyptus Citriodora.

What is Lemon Eucalyptus?

Lemon eucalyptus is a tree. Oil from the leaves is applied to the skin as a medicine and insect repellent.

Lemon eucalyptus oil is used for preventing mosquito and deer tick bites; for treating muscle spasms, toenail fungus (onychomycosis), and osteoarthritis and other joint pain. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs used to relieve congestion.

Likely Effective for...

  • Preventing mosquito bites, when applied to the skin. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents. It seems to be about as effective as other mosquito repellents including some products that contain DEET. However, the protection offered by lemon eucalyptus oil doesn't seem to last quite as long as DEET.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Preventing tick bites, when applied to the skin. Applying a specific 30% lemon eucalyptus oil extract (Citriodiol) three times daily significantly decreases the number of tick attachments experienced by people who live in tick-infested areas. This specific extract is used in commercial products such as Mosi-guard and Repel Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Toenail fungus (onychomycosis). Developing research suggests that lemon eucalyptus oil, in combination with camphor and menthol, might be useful for treating toenail fungus when applied directly to the affected area. Applying chest rub products containing lemon eucalyptus, such as Vicks VapoRub, to affected toenails daily until the infected nail grows out seems to clear fungal nail infections in some people.
  • Joint pain.
  • Arthritis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of lemon eucalyptus for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Lemon Eucalyptus work?

Lemon eucalyptus oil contains a chemical that repels mosquitoes and kills fungus.

Are there safety concerns?

Lemon eucalyptus oil is safe for most adults when applied to the skin as a mosquito repellent. Some people might have a skin reaction to the oil.

Lemon eucalyptus oil is UNSAFE to take by mouth. Some chest rubs for congestion (Vicks VapoRub) contain lemon eucalyptus oil. These products can cause seizures and death if eaten.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon eucalyptus oil during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Dosing considerations for Lemon Eucalyptus.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For preventing mosquito bites: a 30%, 40%, or 75% lemon eucalyptus oil solution. However, the higher concentration does not seem to be more effective than the lower concentration. Commercial products available in the US (e.g., Repel Lemon Eucalyptus) contain 10% to 30% lemon eucalyptus oil. Directions on these products suggest applying the oil no more than twice per day. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the oil. Avoid getting it on your lips or into your mouth.
  • For preventing ticks from attaching and biting: A specific 30% lemon eucalyptus oil extract (Citriodiol) has been applied up to three times daily when exposed to tick infested areas. This specific extract is used in commercial products such as Mosi-guard and Repel Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the oil. Avoid getting it on your lips or into your mouth.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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