We are often asked for and given sage advice on the use of essential oils from professionals who use them in their daily lives. One phone call comes to mind where a medical doctor told us that he had great success using Eucalyptus essential oil to prevent and control the spread of the horrible H1N1 flu virus.
He was so sure of the oil’s effectiveness to ward off the flu that he planned to give a bottle to every person at a medical conference he was speaking at!
I know from personal experience that Eucalyptus essential oil speeds up the healing process when I have a cold. Remember Vicks Vapor Rub? When I used to get colds, I’d slather that on (until I found out it was made with petroleum) to get relief from cold symptoms, and yep, you guessed it… one of the active ingredients is Eucalyptus essential oil.
Eucalyptus is an amazing plant with wonderful healing properties. There are hundreds of different species in the Eucalyptus family but our focus is on Eucalyptus globulas (Latin name) as it is the most widely used today.
A Brief History
Eucalyptus globulus (we’ll call it just Eucalyptus from here on out) is also known as bluegum eucalyptus, bluegum or Tasmanian bluegum (botanical family – Myrtaceae). Eucalyptus is native to Tasmania and southeastern Australia.
It was introduced into California in 1856 and into Hawaii in about 1865. It is an important source of fuel wood for many countries as it burns freely, leaves little ash and produces good charcoal. It’s a very sustainable tree and can be harvested every 7 years. It’s also used for pulpwood (doesn’t work well for lumber because of excessive cracking and shrinkage).
Eucalyptus is used for windbreaks, shelterbelts and sight and sound barriers along highways. It’s also planted as an ornamental and is a source of nectar for honey production. Eucalyptus is planted in North Africa to block the spread of malaria by repelling mosquitoes and in ancient times, Australian aborigines placed the leaves of eucalyptus on wounds to cleanse and heal them.
Did they know something we modern people don’t? Well, not really…today Eucalyptus is used in many everyday products.
I Bet You Didn’t Know
The tree leaves are steam distilled to produce Eucalyptus essential oil which is used in numerous commercial applications. In pharmaceutical preparations it is used for its diaphoretic, expectorant, insecticidal and oestrogenic (mimic the action of female hormones) properties.
The oil has antifungal and antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. It’s used in cold and cough medicines, disinfectants, antiseptic liniments, ointments, toothpastes and mouthwashes.
In the food industry it’s used as a flavor ingredient in beverages, dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, puddings and meat products.
In the cosmetic industry it’s used in soaps, detergents, air fresheners, bath oils, perfumes and many more products. Pretty interesting that we use it in our daily products without even knowing it!
From an Aromatherapy Perspective
Eucalyptus essential oil is well known for its antibacterial, antiseptic, disinfecting and expectorant properties. The oil is used for colds, flu, coughs, congestion, sinusitis, respiratory infections, skin and throat infections, inflammation, sores, wounds and even as a natural insect repellent.
It’s used by veterinarians for treating influenza in horses, distemper in dogs and septicemia in all animals.
- To use: Apply topically, diffuse, add to humidifier water, vaporizer, massage, compress, inhalation, bathing or add to other existing products
- Blends well with these essential oils: Rosemary, Geranium, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Pine, Sandalwood, Thyme