The potent medicinal properties of eucalyptus have been used for centuries by Australian Aborigines. Today, the powerful antiseptic properties of eucalyptus are valued all over the world.
Eucalyptus oil is distilled from the partially dried leaves and twigs of the 'blue gum' eucalyptus tree. The oil has a pungent camphorous scent and blends well with other tree oils, such as cedarwood and pine, and other refreshing, antiseptic oils, particularly lemon and thyme.
A decongestant oil
Eucalyptus' warming and drying properties are effective in treating all respiratory disorders. Its decongestive action is especially effective as a steam inhalation. It fights infections, reduces fevers and soothes inflammation of the respiratory tract. It also stimulates the nervous system, combating tiredness and promoting concentration.
Active Ingredients of Eucalyptus Oil
There are over 500 varieties of eucalyptus that bear essential oils. These have different chemical compositions. The most commonly used is 'blue gum' eucalyptus - Eucalyptus globulus.
Eucalyptol, also known as cinerole, is a potent oxide that stimulates the respiratory and digestive system. It is responsible for the oil's camphorous scent, which has expectorant properties.
Eucalyptus contains limonene which is antiviral, and pinene, which is antiseptic.
The alcohol citronellol is present in eucalyptus oil in small quantities. Citronellol has a warming, uplifting and antiseptic effect.
Uses of Eucalyptus Oil
The uses of eucalyptus oil was manifold, from a pleasant-smelling decongestant to a soothing and gentle remedy for urinary infections.
Eucalyptus oil can be used to make a versatile balm.
Simply melt a tablespoon of vaseline by placing it in a bowl over a pan of hot water and add:
6 drops eucalyptus oil
2 drops peppermint oil
Rub a little of this balm under your nose to clear your sinuses, especially at night. A little rubbed on your lips helps heal cold sores.
Using eucalyptus as an incense is a simple way to benefit from its antiseptic qualities. As the eucalyptus burns, it releases its antiseptic ingredients into the air, disinfecting the room and masking unsavoury odours.
Place some charcoal into a burner and light. Sprinkle with loose eucalyptus incense and allow to gently burn.
Eucalyptus is popular among the aborigines, who burn the leaves to relieve fever, believing the illness will leave the person and go into the smoke. The dried leaves are also smoked to relive asthma and other respiratory conditions.
In Victorian England, dried leaves were put in sachets to keep cupboards and closets fragrant and as an insect repellent.
Eucalyptus leaves are the only food eaten by koalas. People used to believe that alcohol contained in the leaves of the eucalyptus made the koalas permanently drunk, giving rise to their lazy behaviour.
The antiseptic properties of eucalyptus make it an excellent remedy for infections, particularly of the urinary tract.
Combat painful cystitis with a gentle daily massage over the lower back, abdomen and hips. For a soothing massage oil, add to 25ml sweet almond oil:
4-5 drops eucalyptus oil
4-5 drops neroli oil
The antiseptic action of eucalyptus makes it a versatile medicinal oil. Applied as a compress, eucalyptus soothes inflammation and can be used to relieve muscular aches and rheumatic pains.
For strains and sprains
Add 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil and 5-6 drops of lavender oil to a cold compress and apply.
Dispel congestion with a steam inhalation.
Add 2-3 drops each of eucalyptus, lemon and pine oils to a bowl of hot water.
Cover the head with a towel and breathe in deeply.