In Australia, the healing properties of the eucalyptus tree were first discovered by Australian Aboriginals who used eucalyptus leaves to bind wounds and cuts. They would also use eucalyptus leaves as fumigant against infections and fever. Today, eucalyptus essential oil is mainly used to heal diseases of the respiratory system and to protect against bacterial and viral infections.
#4 of 10: Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The Eucalyptus Tree
Native to Australia and Tasmania, eucalyptus is a huge, evergreen tree that can grow up to 100 metres (328 feet). It has long, pointed leaves that, unlike in most other trees, hang sideways from the branches. Young eucalyptus leaves are bluish-green in colour while the leaves in older trees turn toward yellowy green.
Despite its size, eucalyptus has tiny little flowers covered by a hard cap when in bud. This cap is the one characteristic that gave eucalyptus its name. The tree was named by French botanist C.L. Brudelle L’Heritier who coined the name by combining two Greek words: eu (well) and kalipto (covered).
From Ornament to “Fever Tree”
It was in the 19th Century that the “well-covered” tree, originally discovered by another Frenchman, naturalist De Labillardie, was introduced into Europe, and was, at first, used as an ornamental plant. Over time, as its healing properties became known, it acquired the nickname “Fever tree”.
Cultivation of eucalyptus trees in Europe was not without its problems, however, as the trees reacted with the new soil by developing chemicals that made the soil toxic to other plants.
Elsewhere, the tree has fared better. Eucalyptus is grown widely in Asia, Africa and both Americas. In North-Africa, its peculiar tendency to dry the soil that it is in has been put to good use at mosquito-ridden swamp lands.
The benefits of eucalyptus plantations have been two-fold: the roots of the tree have acted to dry up the soil and thus helped to turn a mosquito-breeding area into a more healthy ground. The eucalypts have also spread eucalyptus oils into the air through their leaves and so created a natural barrier against malaria in the people living in their vicinity.
There are roughly 700 different varieties of eucalyptus trees, almost all native to Australia. Out of this multitude, about 500 varieties are known to produce some kind of essential oil. There are, however, only 15-20 eucalyptus varieties that produce oils that are of value commercially.
The most commonly produced variants of eucalyptus essential oils come from eucalyptus globulus (the blue gum), eucalyptus radiata (narrow-leaved eucalyptus), eucalyptus dives (broad-leaved eucalyptus), eucalyptus citriodora (lemon-scented gum), eucalyptus smithii (gully gum) and eucalyptus staigeriana (lemon ironbark).
In Australia, the most popular Eucalyptus Essential Oil comes from eucalyptus polybractea (the blue mallee). It grows in the western parts of New South Wales and in Central Victoria. What this and other valuable gums have in common is the high quantity of eucalyptol, the main active ingredient in Eucalyptus Essential Oil. Other natural chemicals present in eucalypts may include ethyl alcohol, amyl alcohol, camphene, eudesmol, phellandrene, pinene and aromadendrene.
Respiratory and Other Diseases
Eucalyptus Essential Oils are mainly used to heal diseases of the respiratory system and to protect against bacterial and viral infections. Eucalyptus Essential Oil is also an analgesic and is used to relieve pain caused by rheumatism, various muscle aches, fibrositis, shingles and other ailments.
The effects of respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis, larynghitis, sinusitis and catarrh, are greatly reduced by breathing in vapour of Eucalyptus Essential Oil mixed in hot water.
Epidemics and Chemical Reactions
In times of epidemics, like the winter flu or the whooping cough, it is a good idea to vapourise Eucalyptus Essential Oil directly into the room. To do this, you may simply add a few drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil into hot water or use a diffuser with cold water which allows for the eucalyptus oils to safely spread into the air over a longer time.
Scientific studies have shown that 2% eucalyptus solution sprayed into the room will kill 70% of staphylococcus bacteria in the air. The chemical reaction which happens when eucalyptus oil is spread into the air is somewhat surprising.
Instead of the chemical ingredients within the oil killing the bacteria, the researchers found that to be efficient certain chemicals within eucalyptus oil – namely the aromadendrene and the phellandrene – had to react with air. As they did so they created ozone which in turn killed the bacteria.
Recommended by Jean Valnet
Eucalyptus Essential Oil may be used in sprays or in baths to reduce fever and itching in children going through a bout of chickenpox.
For flu and bronchitis, the famous French physician, military surgeon and aromatherapist, late Jean Valnet, recommended the following inhalation mixture: 4 parts Eucalyptus Essential Oil, 2 parts Thyme Essential Oil, 2 parts Pine Essential Oil and 1 part Lavender Essential Oil. To fumigate the rooms, you can use the same recipe adding 10 grams of the mixture into a litre of hot water.
In tropical third-world countries contagion from such serious diseases as cholera, malaria, typhoid, measles and scarlet fever, is still a possibility. In these cases, Valnet recommends applying diluted Eucalyptus Essential Oil on the skin at regular intervals. The patient’s bed should be covered with gauze that has been treated with a Eucalyptus Essential Oil solution.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil will slow the spread of infection, encourage the immune system and lower the sufferer’s temperature.
For cold sores and genital herpes caused by Herpes Simplex I Virus use Eucalyptus Essential Oil (specifically from the eucalyptus radiata tree) in combination with Bergamot Essential Oil. In these and other sensitive cases, eucalyptus radiata is a better option than some of the more popular varieties, such as eucalyptus globulus, as it is particularly gentle to the skin and the mucous membrane.
Similarly, for cystitis and leucorrhea, use eucalyptus radiata. Like all eucalypts, the narrow-leaved variety will act to reduce moisture in private body parts and so make it harder for microbes to procreate.
To use eucalyptus to drive fleas out of your dog, combine a few drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil with Bergamot and Lavender Essential Oils in water, and spray directly onto the dog’s fur and skin.
Effect on the Mind
Psychologically, eucalyptus is happiness-inducing. It’s effect on the mind derives from what it does to your lungs. It opens up the chest and makes it easier to breathe.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil is especially recommended for people who may have a hard time interacting with others due to shyness or fear. It will help one to be more courageous and to find new, positive ways to deal with the world.