Eucalyptus is a blue gum and an evergreen tree native to Australia but is cultivated worldwide. The plant’s leaves—and the oil that is steam-distilled from them—are used medicinally. Eucalyptus was first used by Australian aborigines, who not only chewed the roots for water in the dry outback but used the leaves as a remedy for fevers. In the 1800s, crew members of an Australian freighter developed high fevers, but were able to successfully cure their condition using eucalyptus tea. Thus, eucalyptus became well known throughout Europe and the Mediterranean as the Australian fever tree.
What it does
The leaves contain around 70-85% of a volatile oil called eucalyptol as well as various flavanoids. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, expectorant, anti-spasmodic and acts on the mucous membranes of the nose, reducing congestion.
|Coughs||Emphysema||Genital herpes (topically)|
|Sinusitis||Sinus congestion||Sore throat|
Three to four leaves can be infused and made into a herbal tea which can be taken up to 3 times a day. As an oil it can be added to water and no more than 0.2ml should be consumed per day. The aromatherapy oil is very popular for inhalation and topically as a massage oil to relieve aches or pains and as an insect repellant.
For local applications, 30 ml of the oil can be mixed in 500 ml of lukewarm water and applied topically as an insect repellent or used over the temporal areas of the forehead for tension headaches. As an inhalant, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to hot water or a vaporizer.
Eucalyptus oil (0.05–0.2 ml per day) can be taken internally by adults. It should always be diluted in warm water before consuming. Eucalyptus oil needs to be used very cautiously since as little as 3.5 ml of the oil taken internally has proven fatal. It is best for individuals to discuss internal use with a qualified healthcare professional.
Side effects from the internal use of eucalyptus can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Eucalyptus oil should not be used by babies and children under the age of two, especially near the face and nose, due to the risk of airway spasm and possible cessation of breathing.
The oil may aggravate bronchial spasms in people with asthma and should not be taken internally by those with severe liver diseases and inflammatory disorders of the gastro-intestinal tract and kidney.