Eucalyptus Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin
The Eucalyptus Tree
Eucalyptus is a tree species from the Myrtaceae family native to Australia. Commonly known as gumtree, these fast-growing trees are of high economic importance. It is characterized by having flaky, outermost barks. Eucalyptus leaves are leathery in texture.
Eucalyptus leaves are where the essential oil comes from. These leaves are dried and crushed before it undergoes distillation to release the essential oil. Eucalyptus essential oil is a common ingredient in medicines that treat respiratory symptoms such as cough symptoms, nasal congestion, common cold, and even asthma. It is the key ingredient that gives rubs its camphor scent.
Components of Eucalyptus Oil
The eucalyptus essential oil derived from the tree’s dried leaves is a colorless oil with a heavy minty, citrus scent. Some of the major components of eucalyptus oil are cineol, pinene and limonene. They give the essential oil the strong, minty odor. Aside from the components mentioned above, the oil may also contain around 250 other more phytochemical compounds in different concentrations depending on the species.
Various species of eucalyptus yield essential oils used for different occasions and purpose. It is important to note the different eucalyptus species and how they should be used.
Eucalyptus globulus var. globulus
(Common name: blue gum, Tasmanian blue gum, fever tree)
This is the most common type of eucalyptus species where the essential oil is derived. The oil harvested from the distilled eucalyptus leaves and twigs have a camphoraceous aroma, which works well in relieving coughs, colds, and asthma. Thanks to the high oxide content (cineole- 52.96%), it is a big help in aiding against respiratory ailments.
It has an uplifting effect when inhaled and has excellent anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-fungal properties
(Common name: broad-leaved peppermint eucalyptus, blue peppermint tree)
The distinct blue heart-shaped eucalyptus leaves of the blue peppermint tree are where its name was derived. It has a combination of camphor and minty scent good for some respiratory problems such as coughs and colds. It also relieves the symptoms of arthritis and can increase mental alertness.
(Common name: gully gum, gully peppermint, blackbutt peppermint, ironbark peppermint)
The grayish-green eucalyptus leaves of the gully gum are where the camphoraceous aroma is from. Oxide, being its key component, makes it perfect for aromatherapy in treating respiratory conditions and eases headaches and muscle pain.
(Common name: lemon-scented eucalyptus)
The lemon-scented eucalyptus, a cross between a eucalyptus and a citrus tree, gives a more citrus scent because of the higher concentration of limonene combined with the unique camphor odor given off by other eucalyptus species. It is calming and works well in relieving symptoms of cold and flu. This eucalyptus essential oil is favored over other ones when used in children.
(Common name: narrow-leaved peppermint)
A powerful variant of eucalyptus essential oil, the Eucalyptus radiata has very effective anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. This is because of the higher cineole content compared to the globulus variety. Its fresh and camphorous scent uplifts the mood and soothes exhaustion.
History of the Use of the Eucalyptus Oil
Although already famous with the Aborigines, it was Baron Ferdinand von Muller who discovered its antiseptic properties. It was used to treat several ailments, including malarial fevers. Its medicinal property paved the way for the export of eucalyptus seeds from Australia to different parts of the world. The popularity of the eucalyptus essential oil started during World War I when it was used to treat meningitis during the influenza pandemic of 1919.
Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Applying a damp cloth with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on the forehead, temples and at the back of the neck can help relieve headache. It can also lessen the tension on facial muscles.
For respiratory support
Vicks VapoRub is one of the most common commercial balms that makes use of 1.2 percent eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus essential oil has long been used to relieve coughing. Its vapor can help loosen mucus for easier expulsion. It also eases congestion and the symptoms of cold and flu.
Putting one to two drops of eucalyptus oil in water, steam inhalation is the preferred method by those who frequently suffer from nasal decongestion. It can also be combined with peppermint oil and lemon oil for to enhance breathing.
The refreshing feeling that the eucalyptus essential oil leaves makes it an effective stress reliever. And since it can clear the airways to make way for oxygen, it can actually encourage mental clarity. Lavender oil can be mixed with eucalyptus oil and used in a diffuser, leaving an energizing aroma in the room.
Eases joint and muscle pain
Eucalyptus essential oil’s anti-inflammatory property makes it useful in reducing the pain brought about by muscle injury and soreness. Ointments for back pain, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis contain eucalyptus oil.
A drop or two of eucalyptus essential oil can be mixed with carrier oils and can be used to massage sore muscles.
For insect bites and cuts
Wounds, cuts, burns, sores, and insect bites may benefit from the oil’s antiseptic property. The eucalyptus essential oil helps ease the discomfort from bug bites and wounds. It can also prevent the progress of infections. It can also be used as a bug repellant.
Helps with cold sores
This essential oil helps lessen the pain and symptoms of cold sores because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
For dental support
The germicidal property of eucalyptus essential oil can prevent bad breath that is why it is an active ingredient of a number of mouthwash and toothpaste.
A drop of this can be mixed with water to use as mouthwash. Just make sure to spit it out.
To fight dandruff and stimulate the scalp
The anti-fungal property of the eucalyptus essential oil helps combat dandruff and leaves a fresh feeling on the scalp. It can be mixed with coconut oil and massaged on the scalp.
It is also used to improve the elasticity of hair. You can add a drop of this to the shampoo to have that fresh from the shower feeling.
Applying this oil to the skin helps soothe painful sunburns. It also works as a refreshing spray during hot summer days.
Controls blood sugar
For people suffering from diabetes, it is believed that eucalyptus essential oil has the potential to lower the sugar in the blood. Research on this is still ongoing so doctors haven’t prescribed the sole use of eucalyptus oil to treat diabetes.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Much like other essential oils, using an incorrect dose of this oil may bring more harm than good.
Consuming eucalyptus essential oil in small amounts such as those found in food is considered safe. But when not properly diluted, it can be fatal. Ingesting too much can cause stomach pain, dizziness, seizures, and coma. It can also induce vomiting and diarrhea.
If applied to the skin, eucalyptus oil should first be diluted to prevent the occurrence of skin irritation.
Eucalyptus oil is not recommended to be used by children as it has side-effects, especially for infants.
For people to undergo surgery, since eucalyptus has the potential to affect blood sugar levels, it is advised to avoid using it 2 weeks prior to an operation.