When you hear or see the word ‘eucalyptus’, what comes to your mind first? I bet it’s a picture of a cute Koala munching deliciously on green leaves. But, do you know that there is more to eucalyptus than being the staple food of the Koalas of Australia? Well, aside from the fact that it’s the favorite food of our cute little Koala friends, it’s actually one of the tallest plants in the planet! In fact, a swamp gum nicknamed “Centurion” is recorded as the second tallest tree in the world with a height of 99.6 meters or 326.8 feet tall! Additionally, while the tree provides nutritional support for Australia’s wildlife, its essential oil extracted from its leaves also possesses amazing medicinal properties.
A Brief History Of Eucalyptus
It is believed that eucalyptus was first discovered by early European explorers. However, no collections of the plant are known to have been made until the year 1770. It was James Cook, Daniel Solander, and Joseph Banks who were said to have made the collections near the Endeavour River in Queensland. Seven years later, during Cook’s third expedition, a botanist named David Nelson brought a eucalypt from Bruny Island to the British Museum in London. It was there that the plant was named Eucalyptus obliqua, with the term being derived from the Latin olives, which means oblique, describing the unequal length of the plant’s leaf bases.
Interesting Facts About This Plant
- Eucalyptus is estimated to contribute about 75% of Australia’s modern vegetation.
- Eucalyptus is actually toxic to most animals, but not to koalas. Thanks to their strong livers that detoxify the leaves and make them useful for consumption.
- The eucalyptus tree has a very unique strategy of surviving forces fires, which are common in Australia. It has dormant shoots deep inside its roots that only germinate when certain hormones are released as they are triggered by heat.
- Eucalyptus is also referred to as “gum tree” due to the very sticky substance it releases when its bark is wounded. The gum is termed as “kino”, which is of African origin.
- Most eucalyptus trees can live over 250 years in the wild.
- Eucalyptus trees are among the tallest-growing trees in the world, second only to the Californian redwoods.
Active Components Of Eucalyptus Oil
We’ve mentioned earlier that eucalyptus is useful not only as staple food for koalas, but also as a medicinal plant. Its essential oil, in particular, has a history of wide application and is used as a pharmaceutical, repellant, and antiseptic. Among its species, it is the Eucalyptus globulus that is often used for production of eucalyptus essential oil. However, the kochii and plybractea are the ones with the highest cineole content. Cineole is the substance that gives the leaves of eucalyptus their camphor-like odor and minty taste. It is also what makes eucalyptus effective as an expectorant. Up to 40 compounds can actually be detected in eucalyptus oil, with cineole being its main component. Other components include the following:
- Cymene P
- Terpinene gamma
- Terpineol alpha
- Terpinyl acetate alpha
Top 10 Health Reasons You Need To Have Eucalyptus Oil At Home
Eucalyptus oil is one of the most versatile essential oils today. It boasts of a long list of medicinal uses and any home is simply not complete without it. Here are top ten health reasons you should always have a bottle of this oil at home.
It Relieves Sinus Congestion
If you’re familiar with Vicks VapoRub, you probably realize that eucalyptus is actually one of the product’s main ingredients. That’s because eucalyptus is very effective in clearing the sinuses. And just like with the popular ointment, the essential oil of eucalyptus can be mixed with hot water and the steam it produced inhaled to help with sinus congestion. If you have upper respiratory congestion, you can also rub the oil on your chest to get some relief.
It Controls Cough
Another reason you’ll find eucalyptus in the ever-popular ointment mentioned above is that it can serve as a cough suppressant. It contains the active ingredient eucalyptol, a compound that provides eucalyptus its spicy, cool taste and mint-like aroma. You can use it to relieve cough in the same way you would treat sinus congestion, through steam inhalation.
It Can Be Used As A Sore Throat Relief
If you have a very stubborn sore throat that and need something to soothe the itch naturally, why not try eucalyptus oil? Adding a couple of drops to a humidifier will allow you to clear the air inside the house, as well as clear your throat and reduce irritation. The menthol scent of eucalyptus will not only help soothe the pain, but its anti-bacterial property will also make sure whatever microorganism that is hurting your throat will be eliminated.
It’s A Joint And Muscle Pain Reliever
Being anti-inflammatory and analgesic in nature, eucalyptus makes one of the best joint and muscle pain relievers out there. If you have body pain that just won’t go away, using eucalyptus oil as a warming balm or massage ointment will definitely soothe sore muscles and joints. It will also deliver the same effects for other conditions such as lumbago, sprained tendons and ligaments, stiff muscles, fibrosis, rheumatism, and nerve pain.
It Can Remove Germs In The Intestines
Eucalyptus is considered a vermifuge and has antiparasitic effects. One study concluded that the essential oil of E. globules has antimicrobial properties and have been found to have inhibiting actions against E. coli and S. aureus. This is the reason the herb is frequently employed to get rid of intestinal germs and bacteria.
It Can Help Lower A Fever
Do you know that one of the popular nicknames of eucalyptus oil is “fever oil”? It’s because eucalyptus is actually a vasodilator, which means it can help widen blood vessels and improve blood circulation. It also has antiviral properties, and when used, can help eliminate virus that might be causing infection and fever. One of the best ways to use eucalyptus oil for fever is by placing 2 to 3 drops on a cotton ball and then applying it to the temples. You can also add 5 to 10 drops of the oil to 2 cups of warm water, soak washcloths in the mixture, and wrap the washcloths around the arms and legs. Some folks combine it with peppermint oil and spray it on the body as a means of bringing down temperature.
It Can Help Kill Germs In Your Mouth
Just as eucalyptus is effective in fighting off germs in your gut, so it is perfect for killing bad breath and cavity-causing germs in your mouth. In this study done on the effects of eucalyptus extract chewing gum on dental health, it was concluded that the antibacterial activity of eucalyptus was effective in promoting periodontal health. In its oil form, eucalyptus is also very effective against gingivitis, plaque, cavities, and other dental infections, thanks to its germicidal properties. This is the main reason you’ll find it as a main ingredient in many dental hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
It Can Provide Relief For Asthma
Steroid dependence continues to be a problem among many asthma sufferers. The good news is that there is a more natural way to treat asthma, and that with the help of eucalyptus oil. The 1.8-cineol (eucalyptol) component of the oil has anti-inflammatory activity and has been found to have steroid-saving effect in steroid-dependent asthma. This health benefit offered by eucalyptus oil can be received through inhalation or with the use of a diffuser.
It Can Relieve You Of Stress And Anxiety
Perhaps one of the most practical and most popular health benefits of eucalyptus oil is that it can help regulate stress and even reduce anxiety. It’s a known fact that eucalyptus oil provides some of the most wonderful aromatherapy experiences. Its aroma is both powerfully stimulating and refreshing and can boost concentration and elevate energy levels at the same time. If you’re down and feeling blue and possibly need something to lift your spirits, you can try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your diffuser at home.
It Can Stimulate Your Immune System
The last, but not the least reason you should always keep a vial of eucalyptus oil at home is that it has been proven to promote phagocytic activity. Phagocytes are actually cells that ingest bacteria, dead or dying cells, and other harmful foreign particles that may have the potential to cause illness. This means it can help in boosting immunity. Knowing this fact will help you prepare for the rainy season and make sure you have something in your pocket to help you fight off cold and flu.
A Word Of Precaution
Just like most types of herbs used as alternative medicine, the oil of the eucalyptus plant may have side effects. It is important to remember that eucalyptus present in some commercial health products is actually eucalyptol, a component that has been removed and is clinically approved to be used for medicine. Eucalyptus oil, on the other hand, may be toxic, especially when used undiluted. Before using this essential oil, whether internally or externally, make sure it is well diluted or, better yet, used with other carrier oils. When used topically, make sure you avoid getting it in your eyes, lips, mouth, tongue, and mucus membranes. Moreover, it is not advisable to take eucalyptus oil for a long period as it can cause liver damage, although it can be taken orally, provided the dosage is kept within the range of 0.3 to 0.6 grams. Finally, eucalyptus oil is not recommended to children and to pregnant and breastfeeding women. If you are unsure whether you can take this substance without putting your health at risk, it would be best to talk to a physician first.
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