The main component of Eucalyptus is 1,8-cineole, a remarkable chemical component offering strong therapeutic properties that have been well researched. It is this phytochemical that is responsible for the Eucalyptus benefits to respiratory health. Its therapeutic properties include; airborne anti-microbial, analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antispasmodic, antioxidant, antiviral, hypotensive, mucolytic.
Burning Eucalyptus essential oil in an oil burner will firstly help to kill the airborne germs responsible for colds and flu. Its mucolytic properties will help to thin excess mucus, making it less thick and sticky and easier to cough up. Promising research has been undertaken that shows Eucalyptus may be able to break up mucus in asthma patients, with some able to lower their steroid medication.1 The oil can be diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed into the chest for relief from many respiratory conditions.
Eucalyptus is approved by the German Commission E (an expert panel that evaluates herbs for their medicinal properties), for the treatment of bronchitis. In 2013, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was published in the journal "Cough". It confirmed that people with bronchitis may benefit from treatment with oral cineole (Eucalyptus). For a ten day period, 242 patients received either 200mg of cineole three times a day or a placebo. After four days of treatment the group treated with cineole showed a significant improvement of their acute bronchitis symptoms. It was especially effective in reducing the frequency of coughing fits.2
A common complication of a cold is bacterial sinusitis. In 2009 a placebo-controlled study was done with 150 people with acute sinusitis that did not require antibiotic treatment. Patients were either given 200mg of cineole or a placebo three times per day. The cineole group recovered significantly faster than the placebo group.3
Eucalyptus tea or tincture has been traditionally taken for millennia to maintain an strong immune system. It protects against a wide variety of bacterial infections and has been found to be particularly effective against E. coli and Candida albicans.
A 2008 study published in “BMC Immunology”, showed that Eucalyptus is also able to stimulate an immune system response. Researchers found that the oil can enhance the immune system’s phagocytic response – the process whereby the immune system consumes and destroys foreign particles and dangerous pathogens.4
There are many studies investigating the analgesic properties of Eucalyptus. As a powerful anti-inflammatory it makes an excellent massage oil for sore, arthritic joints and sports injuries.
A 2013 study took 52 patients recovering from knee surgery and split them into two groups. One group inhaled Eucalyptus oil for 30 minutes per day for three days following the surgery. It was found to be significantly effective in decreasing the pain and blood pressure of the patients.
The powerful antiseptic and antibacterial qualities of Eucalyptus essential oil make it a great natural remedy for wounds, cuts, sores, burns, insect bites and blisters.
A study from 2017 was conducted on numerous essential oils to test their effectiveness against a variety of skin conditions. Eucalyptus essential oil was found to be effective against cold sores, insect bites, shingles, ulcers, wounds, abscesses and athlete’s foot.5
Folklore and history
The explorer and botanist Baron Ferdinand von Müller is credited for gaining worldwide notoriety for the properties of this tree in the mid 1800’s. This led to its introduction into Europe, Africa, California and some non-tropical areas of South America.
Eucalyptus comes in at number 2 of the top ten Aboriginal bush medicines. Second only to Tea Tree, Eucalyptus leaves were infused as a tea for body pains, fevers and chills and the oil was used for oral care and respiratory disorders.
Bowls and dishes were made from the heavy bark. The Kulin people in southern Victoria, made bowls called “tarnuks” to carry water and people along the Murray River made canoes from the bark of eucalypts.
This native Australian tree has over 300 species, with Eucalyptus globulus being the most commonly used for its medicinal properties. It is well known for its characteristic, menthol, camphor-like aroma and has a long history of traditional use for all manner of respiratory disorders.
Australian aborigines have used this tree for thousands of years to treat coughs, fevers, joint pain, wounds and much more. It was named the “fever tree” by Australian settlers because of its potent disease-fighting properties.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Dilute in a carrier oil to use in the bath, or vapourise neat in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream. Use 6-8 drops per bath and 10 -18 drops per 30ml of carrier oil.
Can be added to water or fruit juice.
Traditionally Taken: Take 2-3 ml 2-3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.
The main constituents of Eucalyptus Oil are: α-Terpineol, 1,8-cineole (Eucalyptol), α-pinene, β-pinene, Sabinene, Camphene, Limonene, p-Cymene, Camphor, Globulol, Citronellal, α-phellandrene, Aromadendrene, and Piperitone.
Not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women or children under 2 years of age.
Please consult your healthcare practitioner before using Eucalyptus if you are taking diabetes medication or any other prescription medication.
Do not use on sensitive skin.