If you think eucalyptus you think of koalas or saunas, you’re not wrong in either case.
The leaf from the eucalyptus tree has a wide variety of uses, including feeding koalas.
For people however it has a great number of useful compounds.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is an extensive and prolific genus of flowering trees and shrubs of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.
There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and most are native to Australia. Many species of eucalyptus are known as ‘gum trees’ due to the copious amounts of sap they can produce.
Global production of eucalyptus is dominated by the Eucalyptus globulus species. However, Eucalyptus kochii and Eucalyptus polybractea have the highest cineole content, ranging from 80-95%.
It is worth noting that eucalyptus is often confused with camphor or menthol, even in the way it smells. However, camphor oil is extracted from the leaves, roots or stems of the Cinnamomum camphora tree, whilst menthol is extracted from the leaves of various mint plants, such as peppermint.
Properties of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus oils are comprised of more than 100 different compounds. All eucalyptus oils are composed of complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds. The main group of constituents of eucalyptus oil are what are known as monoterpenes.
The main chemical components of eucalyptus oil are a-pinene, b-pinene, a-phellandrene, 1,8-cineole, limonene, terpinen-4-ol, aromadendrene, epiglobulol, piperitone and globulol.
Eucalyptus globulus oil comprises about 60% cineole and 40% many other compounds.
The list of therapeutic/homeopathic properties of eucalyptus is immense and includes that it is: a/an analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, balsamic, cicatrisant (for scars), decongestant, deodorant, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, and febrifuge (for fevers), to name but a few!
Medicinal/Homeopathic Properties of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus has an array of health benefits. A few of the specific conditions for which eucalyptus has beneficial properties include:
- Respiratory infections: Eucalyptus is immense in its properties in fighting respiratory tract infections. Its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and decongestant components help with coughs, sinusitis, bronchitis, and catarrh (which is the excessive discharge or build-up of mucus in the nose or throat).
- Asthma: Eucalyptus anti-inflammatory properties which have a soothing effect and calm the throat and dilate the blood vessels, which will allow more oxygen into the lungs and allow an asthmatic to breathe normally.
- Colds/Hay Fever: Eucalyptus soothes inflammation and eases mucus, clearing the head from the stuffiness of colds and hay fever.
- Fever: Eucalyptus oil can help treat fever and reduce body temperature. There is a reason why a common name for eucalyptus oil is ‘fever oil’.
- Muscle pains: Eucalyptus oil is both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It can alleviate the pain caused by rheumatism, lumbago, sprained ligaments and tendons, stiff muscles, aches, fibrosis and nerve pain.
Aromatherapies use eucalyptus essential oil extensively because its therapeutic properties are so diverse and broad.
Caution! Pregnant or breast-feeding women should avoid using eucalyptus, as should individuals who suffer from epilepsy. Ingestion of large doses can actually be fatal.
Some Quirky Facts about Eucalyptus
- Eucalyptus forests in summer are sometimes shrouded in a smog-like mist comprised of vaporised volatile organic compounds (known as terpenoids) from the trees. Australia’s famous Blue Mountains near Sydney got their name from that haze.
- Eucalyptus are somewhat controversial in certain parts of the world for being ‘water-guzzling’ trees where they are not even native (endemic) species, including in water-scarce countries such as South Africa and India.
- A eucalyptus species known as the ‘Australian ‘mountain ash’ (Eucalyptus regnans) is the tallest of all flowering plants in the world. Centurion is the name of the tallest known specimen and measures 327 feet high.
- Koalas, Greater Gliders and Ringtail Possums are the only mammals which can survive on a diet of eucalyptus leaves. Eucalyptus leaves are poisonous, even lethal, to most animals – or have no nutritional value for them.
Cosmetic/Skincare Uses of Eucalyptus
- The anti-inflammatory properties of eucalyptus can ease the symptoms of oral herpes. Applying eucalyptus oil to a cold sore can help reduce pain and improve the healing process.
- Eucalyptus oil is great for topical use. It has strong antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that are effective at treating wounds, burns, cuts, abrasions, sores, and scrapes. It also works well as a salve or healing ointment and can be calming too for bug bites and stings.
- Eucalyptus is an excellent cleanser to remove grease and grime from the skin and can help rejuvenate sore hands and feet when mixed in with a salt bath.
- Eucalyptus is useful as a mild sunscreen. It has a natural SPF of 3 and when combined with olive oil it can make a natural moisturizing sunscreen. However do not only use this natural sunscreen on a day with a high UV index.
- It acts as a chemical-free moisturizer when mixed with jojoba oil, olive oil or sweet almond oil and massaged into the skin. It helps to rejuvenate and soften the skin. Which means it’s especially helpful for dry, itchy skin.
Caution! You must avoid drinking eucalyptus tea when also using it as an essential oil on the skin.
Why We Love Eucalyptus in Our Products
As a recap of its many benefits, here are some of the reasons why we at Solpri use eucalyptus essential oils in our products:
- Eucalyptus has a distinct and nice smell
- It is immensely soothing
- Eucalyptus oil is a powerful antibacterial
- It is a powerful decongestant
- It can be a strong antiseptic
- Eucalyptus is a veritable powerhouse of medicinal properties!
“It functions admirably as a characteristic pharmaceutical item, a clean pest repellent, and a sweet-smelling antibacterial disinfectant.” – Global Essence