Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves and stems of the eucalyptus tree, also known as, Eucalyptus globulus or fever tree. It is a tall tree and has leaves that are pointed, bluish-green in color, and highly aromatic. The oil is extracted by a process of steam distillation. It requires about 110 pounds of leaves or stems to make 2 pounds of oil. It is thought that the therapeutic properties of this oil was probably first known by the Aborigines of Australia, since the plant originates from there. These people had used the oil to treat fevers and skin problems. Aromatherapists and herbalists today use this oil for a wide variety of therapeutic benefits.
In the trade, eucalyptus oils are categorized into three broad types i.e., medicinal, perfumery, and industrial based on their composition and use. The most dominant is the standard cineole-based oil of eucalyptus. It is a colorless mobile liquid that turns yellow with age. It has a penetrating and camphor-like fragrance. Spain, Brazil, Australia, and Swaziland are the significant producers of true eucalyptus oil.
Eucalyptol is the chief active ingredient along with other elements, like valeraldehyde, sequiterpene, terpineol, pinocarveol, pinen, camphen globulal, cineol, fenchen, and butylaldehyde. Eucalyptus oil has a warming effect on the muscles and feels really cool on the skin. It has strong antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It is also helpful in relieving fever and cough, lowering blood sugar, and is also a diuretic.
Mainly because of its anti-inflammatory properties, eucalyptus essential oil is often used as an ingredient in preparations used for relieving joint, nerve, and muscle pains. Psychologically, it helps in combating exhaustion and dispelling mental lassitude. Its beneficial effects can be felt when it is used in room humidifiers and vaporizers.
Many therapists consider eucalyptus oil as a universal oil which can be used in its undiluted form on the skin of adults. However, others advise caution regarding using it directly on the skin, and instead suggest that it should be diluted in a massage lotion or carrier oil. It is one of the most popular oils amongst essential oils, since it has the property of enhancing the effects of other essential oils.
For example, when combined with lavender oil, it enhances its sweetness. Adding it to pine and marjoram essential oils can increase the expectorant and decongestant effects. When this oil is combined with orange or bergamot oil, it increases its stimulating effects.
Uses of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- For muscle pain and ache, mix 10 - 15 drops of this oil with 2 ounces of grape seed oil or sweet almond oil, and massage it on the affected area using circular motions.
- In order to get relief from cold and cough, use this oil to make a chest compress, and as a massage oil as well. This will help in loosening the phlegm and improving respiration.
- Adding a couple of drops of this medicinal oil on a piece of cloth or handkerchief, followed by inhaling the aroma whenever required, can also alleviate the symptoms of cold.
- The powerful germicidal properties of eucalyptus can help in healing insect stings or bites, ulcers, burns, and wounds. Put a few drops on a dressing, and apply it on the affected area.
- In order to get rid of dandruff, add about 10 drops of this herbal oil to the shampoo, and massage it well into your hair and scalp. Allow it to stay there for about 3 - 5 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water.
- For a stimulating and cooling effect on the body and mind, blend this oil with other essential oils, and apply it on your pulse points.
Eucalyptus oil finds usage even in dentistry, where it is used in sealers and solvents for root canal fillings. The plant's dried leaf is used as a flavoring agent in the food industry. Despite its manifold benefits, this oil should never be consumed orally by mouth, until and unless told to do so by a doctor. Even, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid its consumption.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.