Alternative names: Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus, E. globulus Essential Oil, Eucalyptus oil, Blue Gum Tree, Stringy Bark Tree, Australian Fever Tree
The main food source of koala bears, many eucalyptus tree species produce fragrant volatile oils, some of which have important medicinal uses.
These oils can be divided into three groups:
Commercial production of eucalyptus began in Victoria, Australia in 1860, and it was used to treat a wide variety of ailments from gonorrhea to gangrene.
In modern times it is listed in the British Pharmacopoeia, Indian Pharmacopoeia and Chinese Pharmacopoeia, German Commission E and others.
Approximately 25 species of eucalyptus trees in Australia are grown for their oil. The essential "Oil of Eucalyptus" used in medicine is obtained through steam distillation of fresh, mature leaves and branch tips, resulting in a colorless or straw-colored oil with a characteristic odor and taste.
Eucalyptol is a main ingredient in many over-the-counter cold and cough remedies, such as cough lozenges, chest rubs, and decongestants.
Eucalyptus is available as a tincture, cream, ointment, essential oil, lozenge, teas, fresh or dried leaves.
The most important constituent of Eucalyptus Oil is cineole (formerly called eucalyptol), present at up to 70% of its volume. Eucalyptus Oil also contains a crystallizable eucalyptol-based resin after exposure to air.
Originally referred to as "eucalyptol", it is now known that the health benefits of eucalyptus oil come from the chemical cineole – an organic compound shown to possess powerful medicinal properties, ranging from reducing inflammation and pain to killing leukemia cells.
(The following plants have also been found to contain cineole: Cannabis, Cardamom, Ginger, Helichrysum, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Tea tree.)
Eucalyptus Oil has several medicinal uses, including:
Eucalyptus may lower blood sugar levels. Placing a drop of eucalyptus oil on the tongue may reduce nausea.
Eucalyptus is ingested in the form of tea or tincture preparations, or inhaled, or applied externally. Eucalyptus oil should always be diluted in a carrier oil such as almond, grape-seed, or other vegetable oil before applying to the skin.
In large doses, it acts as an irritant to the kidneys, through which most of it is excreted.
Eucalyptus oil should not be used by children or applied near the nose or eyes of small children. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it, as should those with digestive problems, digestive tract inflammation, biliary duct disorders, or liver disease.
Undiluted eucalyptus oil should never be taken internally: even small amounts are toxic and may cause circulatory problems, collapse, suffocation, or death.
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