Common Name: Eucalyptus
Scientific Name: Eucalyptus Globulus
Synonyms: Gum tree, southern blue gum, Tasmanian blue gum, fever tree, stringy bark.
Origin: Native to Tasmania and Australia. Mainly cultivated in Spain and Portugal, also Brasil, California, Russia and China. Very little of this oil now comes from its native countries.
This large tree can grow to over 200 ft (60 m), with a trunk to 6 ft (1.8 m) in diameter. The thick trunk sheds its bluish bark in long strips. Juvenile foliage is silvery blue and rectangular, while the adult form is deep green and sickle shaped, to 18 in (45 cm) long. Occurring naturally in coastal areas of Tasmania and south-eastern mainland Australia, it is resistant to dry conditions. The wood is used in the building industry, for paper pulp.
There are two uses for the E. globulus oil, which is extracted, being commercial and medicinal. For medicinal use the most popular is in embrocations and lozenges. Up to 70% of the volume of oil from E.globulus is Eucalyptol but today medicinal oils are chiefly sourced from other species of Eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh or partially dried leaves and young twigs. The oil is a very powerful antiseptic and has strong disinfectant properties. Aromatically the oil serves a twofold purpose in household disinfectants and cleaners as germ killer and air freshener.
Traditional Medicinal Uses
Reported to be anodyne, antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, astringent, deodorant, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hemostat, inhalant, insect repellant, rubefacient, sedative yet stimulant, suppurative, and vermifuge, the bluegum eucalyptus is a folk remedy for abscess, arthritis, asthma, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, catarrh, cold, cough, croup, cystitia, diabetes, diptheria, dysentery, dyspepsia, fever, flu, grippe, inflammation, laryngitis, leprosy, malaria, miasma, phthisis, rhinitis, sores, sorethroat, spasms, tuberculosis, tumors, vaginitis, wounds, and worms (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962; Duke and Wain, 1981; List and Horhammer, 1969–1979; Morton, 1981).
Venezuelans take leaf decoction for clearing ailrments or colds, inhaling the vapors or drinking the decoction. Guatemalans use the leafy shoots for coughs and grippe. Jamaicans put the leaves in the bed, the bath, or the teapot for colds and fever. Cubans use the essential oil for bronchitis, bladder and liver infections, lung ailments, malaria, and stomach trouble. Mexicans chew the fresh leaves to strengthen the gums, whilst also using the leaf decoction as a vaginal douche. They argue that daily drinking of the leaf infusion can reverse diabetes in 8 days. Leaves are placed in the bath for rheumatism (Morton, 1981).
Homeopaths use the plant for bronchitis, colds, flu, laryngitis, and rheumatism. In Asia, the leaf oil, clearly poisonous in large quantities, is regarded as anesthetic, antibiotic, antiperiodic, expectorant, febrifuge, and vermifuge, and it is used for asthma, bronchitis, influenza, and tuberculosis (Perry, 1980). In Australila, the leaves of the bluegum are still widely used as a household remedy in the treatment of many diseases and minor complaints. In Britain and Europe the essential oil, which is powerfully antiseptic, was given for fevers and febrile conditions, for pulmonary tuberculosis, and was applied or inhaled for relieving asthma, bronchitis, sorethroat, croup, whooping-cough, scarlet fever, and even diptheria and typhoid.
The dried leaves were also smoked like cigarettes for asthma while the oil in the form of an aperitif was taken as a digestive (Brooker et al., 1981). Europeans in Africa and Africans themselves may wear the leaf in the hat or place it around the residence as a flu preventative. It is also regarded as a malaria preventitive. African herbalists believe the root is purgative.
Its use in Aromatherapy
There are a number of types of Eucalyptus being:
Eucalyptus Citriodora – which has a distinct citrus like quality, much like citronella or lemongrass.
Eucalyptus Radiata – softer and less harsh than the more common E.globules
Eucalyptus Globulus organic – certified organic and similar to E. globules
Eucalyptus Peppermint organic – its aroma has distinct peppermint-like spicy properties added to Eucalyptus qualities.
Euclyptus Radiata Organic - certified organic but softer and less harsh than the more common E.globulus
Eucalyptus globulus has refreshing, stimulating, clearing and antibacterial properties. The following are suggested uses:
Eucalyptus essential oil blends well with most herbs like lavender, thyme, rosemary, cedarwood, lemon, marjoram and frankincense. Eucalyptus is a very dominant aroma that is difficult to disguise!
Precautions for safe use
Whilst many studies have been undertaken which identify that ingestion of Eucalyptus essential oil can have fatal results (i.e. as low as 3.5ml) there are an equal number of studies and reports which are contrary to this. Eucalyptus globulus is essentially non-toxic, non-irritant (in dilution) and non-sensitising. It should not be used on any child under 3 years of age – this has largely be adopted due to the irresponsible application of this essential oil for coughs and colds etc.
Like any essential oil, responsible use is essential. Never apply directly to the skin. Following the guidelines provided above for inhalation, massage and bath use and this will provide you with a reasonable assurance. Always consult with a medical practitioner if you think you may be sensitive to any essential oil.