Eucalyptus is a fast growing evergreen tree native to Australia. There are over 400 different species of the tree. Eucalyptus Globulus (also known as Blue Gum) is the main source of global eucalyptus oil production.
Eucalyptus oil comes from the dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree. The oil is a colorless liquid with a strong woody and sweet scent.
Eucalyptus leaves are steam-distilled to extract the oil.
Eucalyptus oil contains 70-85% 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) - an ingredient in some mouthwash and dental preparations.
The oil has multiple different uses.
It is often a key ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics because of its unique fresh and clean aroma, and also as a dental or industrial solvent.
In addition to being used for its aroma, eucalyptus oil also has flavoring, pharmaceutical, and antiseptic uses.
Eucalyptus oil may also have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties - people use eucalyptus oil to help treat a wide range of medical conditions.
It is used to help relieve symptoms of the common cold and is found in many cough lozenges and inhalants.
Eucalyptus oil vapor acts as a decongestant when it is inhaled and is used to treat bronchitis.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eucalyptus oil was used in traditional Aboriginal medicines for treating fungal infections and skin wounds. Eucalyptus tea was also administered to reduce fevers.
Eucalyptus is used for a range of medical conditions in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
Towards the end of the 19th century, eucalyptus oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters.
It is also an effective insect repellent. In 1948, the U.S. officially registered eucalyptus oil as an insecticide and miticide (kills mites and ticks).
Medicinal uses and health benefits of eucalyptus
Antibacterial properties -One study, published in Clinical Microbiology & Infection found that eucalyptus oil may have antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract.
However, results of the research "suggest that further studies to clarify the possible therapeutic role of E. globulus leaf extract in the treatment of respiratory tract infection are warranted."
Relieving pain - there is research to indicate that eucalyptus oil has analgesic properties. A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation involved applying Eucalyptamint on the anterior forearm skin of 10 different subjects.
The authors of the study concluded that "Eucalyptamint, produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up."
Promoting good dental health -eucalyptus has antibacterial activity against cariogenic (causing tooth decay) and periodontopathic bacteria. The use of eucalyptus extract chewing gum may promote periodontal health, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology which examined the effect of chewing-gum containing eucalyptus extract on periodontal health.
Stimulating immune system response - eucalyptus oil extract is able to implement the innate cell-mediated immune response, according to a study titled "Stimulatory effect of Eucalyptus essential oil on innate cell-mediated immune response" which was published in BMC Immunology.
Other possible conditions that eucalyptus can treat include:
Precautions and side effects
It is unsafe to take eucalyptus oil orally or when it's applied on the skin before being diluted.
Side effects may include:
Signs of eucalyptus poisoning:
- Feelings of suffocation
- Small pupils
Written by Joseph Nordqvist