I had a terrible cold last week, and bought "Otrivin Zoutoplossing Plus Eucalyptus" (site in Dutch) nasal spray to help with the congtion.

This particular type contains a salt solution and Eucalyptus; it worked in so far as that it made me feel better, however, the packaging (as well as the website) also claim:

Otrivin Zoutoplossing Plus met Eucalyptus heeft bovendien een zuiverende werking die je neusholten vrijmaakt van in het slijm verstrikte bacteriën en virussen. Helpt zo de ontwikkeling van verdere infecties te voorkomen.

Which translates to:

This product also has a purifying effect which clears your nasal cavity from bacteria & viruses that are stuck in the mucus. This helps prevent further infections.

Is this true? There are no studies cited, and none of the other brands make this claim, in fact, even other nasal sprays from the same brand (such as those with only a salt solution or Xylometazoline) don't make this claim.

  • I think this is the English-language packaging for the same product: Otrivin Clear Seawater and Eucalyptus. Is that right?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 23:03
  • @Oddthinking I think so, yes. That page makes the claim "helps remove mucus trapped bacteria and viruses", which is almost, but not quite the same claim. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


If it really works as decongestant, then it may prevent opportunistic bacterial coinfections.

Not a peer-reviewed source, but at least doctor is interviewed. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/03/21/antibiotics-useless-for-most-sinus-infections-experts-say

However, actual peer-reviewed paper says the evidence is weak. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600057/


If we are to focus on the fact it contains Eucalyptus, quite likely.

Eucalyptus oil has antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the respiratory tract. Inhaled eucalyptus oil vapor is a decongestant and treatment for bronchitis. Cineole controls airway mucus hypersecretion and asthma via anti-inflammatory cytokine inhibition. Eucalyptus oil also stimulates immune system response by effects on the phagocytic ability of human monocyte derived macrophages

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus_oil

The medicinal Eucalyptus Oil is probably the most powerful antiseptic of its class, especially when it is old, as ozone is formed in it on exposure to the air. It has decided disinfectant action, destroying the lower forms of life.

The oil is sprinkled on the handkerchief and inhaled frequently, for catarrh colds and to prevent infection.

Source: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/eucaly14.html

Oil of eucalyptus resembles the other essential oils in its action, though at one time credited with a specific action in malaria and fevers. It is employed as an antiseptic...

Source: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/bpc1911/eucalyptus_oleu.html

As it is described as an antiseptic:

... are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. Antiseptics are generally distinguished from antibiotics by the latter's ability to be transported through the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria within the body, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms found on non-living objects.

As the oils from the plant is able to be used against and even prevent infections, also considering its ability to be inhaled for effect (see reference), it is highly likely the nasal spray will have the described effect on preventing infection, provided it is used correctly.

  • 4
    Could you cite any better sources (e.g. peer-reviewed articles)?. Also, which dose are we talking about? How does it compare to the dose in the nasal spray (this is a though one, as the site does not even report it...)? Has the hypertonic salt solution any antibacterial effect? How does it compare with that of eucaliptus oil?
    – nico
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 16:02
  • Do any of these sources provide empirical evidence that it works as it claims? This appears to be merely a repeat of the claim, not a definitive answer.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 13:28
  • The answer is definite. I provide sources that the oil is used and proven to be anti-bacterial, that inhalation of vapor containing the oil can indeed give enough to work, and lastly, the oil is used for many years as anti-bacterial. The content of the nasal spray is 2.2% ocean salt, and a non-conclusive amount of the oil (in other words, it's "random"). Yes, it actually say so on the package. "Ingredients: seawater ( hypertonic 2.2% sea salt ), essential oil of Eucalyptus globulus, wild extract currency. No preservative. No propellant".
    – Sharain
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 22:05
  • 1
    Doubling down on what @Oddthinking said, just because the oil is anti-bacterial doesn't necessarily mean it works in this specific case. A study of this exact situation is required to prove that it works as your citations seem to suggest. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    @ThaneBrimhall: And we don't have any empirical evidence presented here that the oil is anti-bacterial. The evidence that is presented is terrible and certainly not definitive. Wikipedia isn't reliable; their one reference does NOT say it is a treatment for bronchitis. (It is one experiment that uses a rat model (n=?) to show anti-inflammatory effects.) Botanical.com claim it is used as an antiseptic, not that it is an antiseptic. The herbalist page references a codex published in *1911.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 23:55

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