The TikTok-approved trend of hanging eucalyptus in the shower could help relieve congestion and stress.
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Shower With Aromatherapy. Eucalyptus plant hanging from shower
Credit: VISUALSPECTRUM / Stocksy

According to the internet, placing fresh plants in vases, terrariums, and hanging pots around your living room is so last season. Instead, the best space to decorate with greenery is the bathroom — or more specifically, the shower. Yes, really.

In fact, TikTok users are hanging eucalyptus in their showers to create a spa-level, aromatic experience that also offers a few mind and body benefits. But does taking a eucalyptus shower have any legit health perks? Here, an expert breaks down the potential benefits and risks of hanging eucalyptus in the shower. Plus, find tips on how to re-create the shower eucalyptus trend at home.

Benefits of Hanging Eucalyptus In the Shower

ICYDK, eucalyptus is a tree within the myrtle plant family that's native to Australia. The tree is primarily used for its wood, but eucalyptus oil — and the compound 1.8-cineole found within it — may offer some health perks. Research suggests the compound has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and analgesic effects, according to an article in Alternative Medicine Review. And this oil is released from the plant when it's crushed or steamed, such as in a hot shower.

May Help Relieve Congestion

Hanging eucalyptus in the shower could be a useful addition to your cold-relief strategy. The leaves and twigs from the eucalyptus tree have commonly been used to relieve nasal congestion, according to information published in the journal Nursing Clinics of North America. "It's often used — and it's one of the things some of my patients do — to help loosen up phlegm, especially in the shower," adds Jaquel Patterson, N.D., a naturopathic physician and the owner of Fairfield Family Health in Fairfield, Connecticut. "It's used as an expectorant."

Eucalyptus' ability to unplug your stuffy nose comes down to its anti-inflammatory effects, says Patterson. ICYDK, inflammation and swelling caused by upper respiratory infections (think: common colds) prevent your sinuses from draining properly, which can lead to nasal congestion, according to information published by Mount Sinai.

Research has yet to investigate the oil's anti-inflammatory effects on the sinuses when inhaled, but one clinical trial found that consuming eucalyptus oil's 1.8-cineole orally may help relieve symptoms in people with acute rhinosinusitis (short-term inflammation of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses). In theory, combining steam inhalation — which has been found to alleviate nasal obstruction and runny nose in people with allergic rhinitis (nasal inflammation caused by an allergen) — with anti-inflammatory eucalyptus oil could help temporarily relieve your congestion shortly after use, says Patterson.

May Promote Relaxation

By hanging eucalyptus in the shower, you can turn your tiny bathroom into an oasis for unwinding. The plant is known for its relaxing odor, though its ability to calm your mind and body hasn't been well-studied, says Patterson.

"It has fewer studies [relating to using] it for anxiety and stress, but it has been definitely used in that way," she explains. "Supposedly, it puts you in more of a parasympathetic state, but mechanisms of action are less clear on it. It may improve relaxation because it aids in breathing and clearing [your nasal passageways], so that could make you feel better too." That said, one study on 62 people found that inhaling 1.8-cineole before a medical procedure helped decrease the subjects' anxiety. (Related: Train Your Body to Feel Less Stressed with This Breathing Exercise)

Risks of Hanging Eucalyptus In the Shower

There aren't any major health risks of hanging eucalyptus in the shower, says Patterson. Since eucalyptus is toxic to cats and dogs, though, you'll want to avoid the shower plant if you have pets at home.

If you decide to put a few drops of the concentrated eucalyptus oil in the shower instead of the entire plant, proceed with caution, says Patterson. "Oils can be also really toxic, so you should only be using [a few] drops or small amounts of it because it can cause headaches," she says. What's more, there isn't a government agency in the U.S. that grades or certifies essential oils, so some products may contain ingredients that aren't listed on the label, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Translation: Do your research.

How to Hang Eucalyptus In the Shower

Ready to give shower eucalyptus a shot? Once you pick up a bundle of branches (perhaps at your grocery store's floral department or a plant store), you can crush your plant's leaves with a rolling pin to "release the oils," according to some TikTokers. This step may not be necessary to reap the benefits, but the idea behind it isn't too far-fetched, says Patterson. "With garlic's alliinase, which is the active constituent, the more times you cut it, the more it [releases]," she explains. "I'm not 100-percent sure [with eucalyptus], but it makes sense in how most things work."

Then, wrap the ends of the branches in twine or a rubber band and place the eucalyptus branches on top of your shower head. When you're ready to shower, crank on the hot water and watch your stress and stuffy nose melt away. Once the leaves have dried out (within about a month), replace your shower eucalyptus with a fresh bundle of branches, suggests one TikToker.

To keep your shower free of plant leaves, you can also put a few drops of eucalyptus oil or spritz a eucalyptus spray into your bathroom, which will help you achieve the same effects, says Patterson. But if you're trying to soothe your stressed-out mind, relieve your congested nose, and create an aesthetically pleasing, mint-scented bathroom in one fell swoop, a bit of a mess is well worth it.