Welcome to our “Spotlight” on Eucalyptus
In these spotlights I feature a botanical and the essential oil it produces. I explore the highlights and benefits, contraindications and much more. I hope you find this series of posts to be interesting and informative and help you to understand why aromatherapy is so much more than just scents.
There are about 300 species of Eucalyptus all belonging to the Myrtaceae family, but there are only a handful from these 300 that actually yield a valuable essential oil.
Most Eucalyptus essential oil is distilled from the Australian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus, and this is the most commonly used of the essential oils derived from Eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus is best known as a decongestant inhalation for colds and catarrh, but it has many other less known uses. Most important of these is its very powerful bactericidal and antiviral action. A steam inhalation of Eucalyptus is an effective natural treatment for colds… not only because it eases nasal congestion, but it also inhibits proliferation of the cold virus.
Vapourising Eucalyptus Essential Oil or adding it to distilled water and using it as a room spray is a powerful tool, especially in a home with young children, as it will give a good measure of protection from cold and flu, and many of the infectious childhood diseases.
In North Africa groves of Eucalyptus trees were planted in unhealthy and swampy areas to prevent the spread of malaria. This worked in two ways… the Eucalyptus vapours not only provided bactericidal protection, but they also deter mosquitoes from breeding in the immediate area around the trees. Powerful stuff, hey?
Jean Valnet M.D., a medical doctor and practitioner of aromatherapy for more than 30 years, and who is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on essential oil therapy, proved that a spray containing 2% Eucalyptus essential oil will kill 70% of staphylococci in the air. So what that means is that Eucalyptus used like this has a much greater effect than Eucalyptol (its main active principal) which is extracted and used pharmaceutically… indicating once again that essential oils in their natural state are often more effective than the single chemical constituents so revered by chemists!
In epidemics and infectious illnesses Eucalyptus serves to not only help the sufferer but also protects the people who come into contact with them.
Dr Valnet also suggests its use in conditions of fever, to lower the temperature, and as a measure to prevent the spread of infection in cholera, measles, malaria, scarlet fever and typhoid. He also suggests its benefits in treating flu and bronchitis. So as you can see it is a powerful tool for the home, providing endless protection from a number of infections.
Urinary tract infections also respond well to Eucalyptus and its diuretic actions are also very useful with this condition. It also is known to be effective for burns, blisters, cuts, herpes, insect bites, skin infections and wounds.
The oil can be used in massage to relieve pain in rheumatism, muscular aches, fibrositis, rheumatoid arthritis, sprains and for poor circulation. It is also effective for headaches and neuralgia.
I mentioned earlier that Eucalyptus deters mosquitoes… well it is also a good deterrent to insects in general, so having a room spray with Eucalyptus is valuable, especially in the summer months, to keep flies at bay and out of the home. By the way it is also a great flea deterrent for dogs… but don’t forget to dilute it.
SAFETY DATA : Externally non-toxic, non-irritant (in dilution) and non-sensitising. When taken internally eucalyptus oil is toxic, so ensure the full strength oil is kept out of reach from children. Of course, no essential oil should be applied to the skin undiluted, nor should it be ingested.
Other valuable oils procured from the Myrtaceae family are:
Eucalyptus smithii, from the Gully Gum, which is an extremely gentle oil. It is an excellent antiviral agent and expectorant, making it a very useful essential oil for use over Winter for the whole family. Eucalyptus smithii is reputed to be energising and uplifting when used in the morning and relaxing and calming when used in the evening.
Eucalyptus radiata, from the narrow-leaved peppermint tree, is known for its powerful mucolytic action. Often used by aromatherapists in France due to this quality, and nothing is known to contraindicate its use.
Eucalyptus citriodora, from the lemon scented gum, is at the moment, the least used of the powerful Eucalyptus essential oils. This is because this oil can irritate some people with very sensitive skin. If used, it has to be used in very low concentrations, and should be limited to use through a qualified aromatherapist.
Eucalyptus staigeriana, is from the lemon scented iron bark. This essential oil has been found to be invaluable for deep-rooted stress and balancing the emotions. On a more symptomatic level is is analgesic and anti-inflammatory.