Eucalyptus trees are considered by many to be among the most useful natural resource from the plant kingdom. The familar paper-like bark, dark olive leaves and curious seed pods are familiar to much of the world's population. Belonging to the same botanical familiy as the highly-regarded Tea Tree, the name 'Eucalyptus' means 'well covered', describing the the unique crown of the tree's flower. The trees can be quite majestic, growing upwards of 450 feet, particularly when found in their favorite moist, rich soils and temperate climates.
Along with it's famous Tea Tree cousin, Eucalyptus is native to Australia, where it too was considered a cure all by the indigenous people. Even in Australia, several varieties of the tree grow naturally, and over three hundred species are known throughout the world. Due to it's water-loving nature, Eucalyptus seeds were distributed across continents by the French to be planted in marshy, mosquito infested regions. The tree is so thirsty, it can dry up areas that were otherwise prone to malaria outbreaks. A German botanist was the first to sugges the tree's aromatic leaves may provide a source for an antiseptic, and the oil was first distilled in 1788. The initial studies of the antiseptic and bacterial properties of the oil were published in Germany by Doctors Cole and Homeyer. It was prescribed for all respiratory system conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs, and flu. Extracted from Eucalyptus 'peperita' the original oil introduced to Europe was called 'Sydney peppermint' and quickly became popular.
Eucalyptus radiata is widely considered one of the most important sources of eucalyptus essential oil as well as one of the most fragrant of all the eucalyptus types. Also known as narrow-leafed and peppermint gum, it has a fresh and somewhat moderate scent with light citrus overtones. Radiata has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and expectorant properties and is often used in diffusers as well as topically for flues, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Historically used for its powerful natural medicinal qualities. Eucalyptus globulus (also known as Tasmanian blue) is both an antiseptic and an analgesic. Interestingly, when seen from an aerial view the blue gum forest emits an ethereal blue haze. A refreshing scent with rich cineole-rich, slightly camphoraceous but typical eucalyptus smell, Blue gum blends well with other essential oils such as Lavender, Lemongrass, Melissa, Pine, Tea tree, and Juniper.
Eucalyptus is one of the most universal and versatile of essential oils. Some of its many properties include analgesic, antiseptic, deodorant, expectorant, and vermifuge (anti-parasitic). The active therapeutic and principal constituent of the medicinal oils is 1,8-cineole. Eucalyptus has a predominately stimulating effect on the nervous system and therefore should assist those suffering from depression and lethargy. Known as a ‘stimulating’ expectorant due to its invigorating action on the mucus membranes, it is widely considered an effective remedy for respiratory ills. Additionally Eucalyptus is used to relieve muscular aches and pains, in particular those of a ‘cold’ nature such as rheumatic pains.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eucalyptus is an exceptional remedy for clearing lung-phlegm and wind-heat. It is classified as a tonic of the lung Qi and it’s used to enhance the breathing function thus making it beneficial during the onset of flu or fever, sore throat, the common cold, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Various modes of application include topical such as massage, compress, bath, and skin care as well as direct inhalation, diffuser, and vaporizer. World renowned medical aromatherapist, Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt suggests that aromatherapy is ‘ideally suited to the treatment of viral infections because of its connection with the immune system and mind/body connection’. A very cleansing plant, Eucalyptus is considered an herb of purification. Associated with the moon and feminine energy, Eucalyptus is both cool and moist by nature and is thought to help those who are vulnerable to becoming ill due to emotional stress or anxieties.
The psychological properties of Eucalyptus oils are closely related to the action of the lungs which are associated with grief and depression. The aroma helps to dispel melancholy, while lifting the spirits and restoring vitality, harmony, and balance. Eucalyptus may also be useful on a subtle level to cleanse any place where conflict or negative energies have collected. Although Eucalyptus is considered generally safe for aromatherapy, it is prudent to avoid use in infants. Today Eucalyptus Oil continues to be a familiar ingredient in chest rubs, general antiseptics, decongestants, cough remedies and muscle and joint ointments. When used externally, Eucalyptus is both non-toxic and non-irritating and is a must for every natural first aid kit and home medicine chest.