Eucalyptus Oil Inhalation on Pain and Inflammatory Response

The title derives from a 2013 Korean publication (“Effect of eucalyptus oil inhalation on pain and inflammatory responses after total knee replacement: a randomized clinical trial.” PMID: 23853660 with free download) demonstrating reduction of nociceptive response to surgery for total knee replacement. While the technique may appear to be of narrow application, it would seem of potential usefulness with hip replacement or pain from other surgical procedures.

There is, of course, the question of strength of effect and whether more potent pharmaceutical intervention might be desirable. From the first author’s experience with a subcapital hip fracture not requiring replacement, there is the surgery, with i.v. self demand narcotic afterward. The patient eventually goes home with an opoid pain med, along with constipation and a foggy brain.

Most sports medicine physicians understand that anti-inflammatories give better relief from musculoskeletal pain than opoids. Some recommend Aleve or a generic with improved result and no constipation and a functioning brain.

Again, usefulness of inhaled eucalyptus oil vapor for pain and inflammation depends on the effectiveness relative to the degree of relief needed. In 2010, the authors above published a review of eucalyptus oil primarily aimed at respiratory infection, but covering analgesic effect, antispasmodic effect, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects, effect on asthma, rhinosinusitis, COPD, and efficacy against various microorganisms, such as tuberculosis (“Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of Eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices.” PMID: 20359267 with free download.)

The reason for citing this latter report is that the method of administration of eucalyptus oil vapor is superior to that in the Korean publication and probably results in a higher level of therapeutic agent. Full pictures and description of the method is given along with a patient handout page.

There are occasional situations for patients of naturopathic physicians where pain reducing pharmaceuticals are undesirable. Eucalyptus oil may provide an alternative for reducing the stress of pain and inflammation.

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