Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus leaves on a twig

The Eucalyptus’ tree leaves and oils have many uses in medicine and aromatherapy. They are most commonly known as a traditional cough and cold medicine. They are especially useful for respiratory ailments (bronchitis, tuberculosis, sinusitis, dry cough and cold and flu). Dried Eucalyptus leaves can be smoked as tobacco for relieving asthma. That is because Eucalyptus opens the lungs and encourages breathing, relieves bronchial congestion, clears clogged nasal passages and has antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the respiratory tract. Eucalyptus Oil is often used in the formulation of various liniments, inhalants, cough syrups, ointments, toothpaste and as a pharmaceutical flavoring. The Eucalyptus tree is also called Blue Gum or Tasmanian Blue Gum and it is an evergreen tree usually growing up to 30-55 metres high. The tallest Eucalyptus tree ever reported grew to 101 m in height. The current tallest living tree can be found in Tasmania, stretching just over 90 metres high. Eucalyptus Oil is a colorless liquid that has a clean, medicinal, penetrating aroma with lovely fresh notes and a woody-sweet undertone. Eucalyptus Essential Oil is obtained through the steam distillation of fresh, or partially dried, leaves and young twigs of the Eucalyptus tree. The oil represents about 1-2.4% of the weight of the leaves from which it is distilled. Its main component (70-90%) is Cineol, also called Eucalyptol, which is an organic compound used in the food industry as a flavor additive. It is found in many mouthwash brands, medicinal cough suppressants and also insect repellent products. Other constitutes found in the oil include Pinene, Limonene, Cymene, Phellandrene, Terpinene and Aromadendrene. Eucalyptus oil has analgesic, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, balsamic, cicatrisant, decongestant, deodorant, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, parasiticide, prophylactic, rubefacient, stimulant and vulnerary properties.

History

The Eucalyptus tree and its oil have a long history. The native Australian Aborigines prepared Eucalyptus leaf infusions as a traditional treatment for sinus congestion, body pains, fever and colds. In 1788, two surgeons of the “First Fleet” that shipped over 1000 British colonists to New South Wales were the first to have distilled Eucalyptus Oil with the purpose of treating sick convicts and marines. The extraction of the oil became a tradition by subsequent colonists. Victorian botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller was promoting the disinfectant qualities of Eucalyptus in 1852. At the same time, Joseph Bosisto, a Melbourne pharmacist, set up a distillation plant and started producing Eucalyptus Oil commercially. His “Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Oil” brand is still in business today registered as “Bosisto’s Parrot Brand” in the U.S. By the 1870’s the oil was being exported worldwide and was used by late 19th century surgeons as an antiseptic. In the 1950’s the cost of producing and exporting Eucalyptus oil from Australia became too expensive and although Australia still produces high quality oils, China, Spain and Portugal now dominate the commercial Eucalyptus Oil supply industry.

Geography

The Eucalyptus tree is native to Tasmania and Southeast Australia and from there it spread around the world. The oil is now cultivated mostly in China, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and California. China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of Eucalyptus Essential Oil today while Australia now produces only about 5% of the market’s oil.

Tips

It is important to treat Eucalyptus Oil with caution. It is externally non-toxic but can be toxic if taken internally in large amounts. For treating conditions that require oral ingestion of Eucalyptus Oil or medicine containing Eucalyptus Oil, only do so if your doctor or pharmacist directed it. If you are thinking of orally ingesting Eucalyptus Oil, consult with your doctor or pharmacists before you do so.

Skin & Body Care

Eucalyptus Essential Oil is a known remedy for burns, blisters, cuts and sores, herpes, insect bites, and repellant, skin infections, and wounds.

Hair Care

Eucalyptus essential oil is known to aid with dandruff and itchy scalp.