This time I will focus on the essential oil of eucalyptus which is well known to most people. It is a very useful oil this time of the year when the flu goes around, but eucalyptus has many other uses also.
Family and Common Names
Eucalyptus globulus belongs to the Myrtacaeae family. Other common names for the plant are Gum Tree, Blue Gum, Stringy Bark and Fever Tree. It is a large tree and the leaves are steam distilled to make the essential oil.
The main constituent is eucalyptol, cineole, and the British Pharmacopoeia states that the eucalyptus oil must contain no less than 70% of 1,8 cineole. Very few eucalyptus species contain enough of 1,8 cineole to be suitable for commercial use. Therefore many oils are rectified and blended. Rectification is done by re-distillation in a vaccum, the low boiling point fractions are removed and the high boiling residues remain. Minor active constituents may also be removed when rectified if they have irritant properties.
Traditional and Historical Uses
The Botanist Baron Ferdinand von Muller realized the potential of the eucalyptus plant and initiated the first distillation in Australia. His friend Bosisto built the first distillation plant outside Melbourne in 1854 and around 1880 the eucalyptus industry was well established. Bosisto's company still exists today under the name Bosisto's Brand Eucalyptus oil.
Eucalyptus was used to treat convicts for dysentery in Australia. It was also planted in mashy areas to prevent malaria outbreaks. During the first World War it was used for medicine, especially for influenza and meningitis.
Eucalyptus globulus has a fresh, sweet, penetrating and camphoraceous top note with a slightly woody undertone, The aroma is very stimulating and energizing and it makes me feel focus and concentrated. The middle note is medicinal, woody, dirty and little spicy. The base note is dirty, woody, dusty and smells old. The dry out note is sweet perfumery with the typical dried eucalyptus leaves scent. Eucalyptus is a fresh, clean and crisp scent. The oil is colorless and feels slightly oily but evaporates quickly. It doesn't leave any stain on the blotter.
Eucalyptus clears my head and I feel more energized due to its uplifting and fresh scent. It is a positive aroma that makes me concentrate and focus better.
Eucalyptus has historically been used to treat respiratory problems like sinus problems, flu, bronchitis, and asthma. It is best known as a decongestant. Eucalyptus is said to increase oxygen to the cells in the body. It has historically been used to relieve insect bites and muscular aches and pains. Eucalyptus has also been recommended for treatments of headaches, neuralgia and debility. It has been used historically to reduce fever.
Eucalyptus is effective as an insect repellent and it has historically been used to treat burns, wounds, blisters and cuts. It also makes a great antiseptic for when you clean so you can add it to your cleaning water.
If you like to use eucalyptus oil in different blends you can try to blend it with the following oils:aniseed, basil, cajuput, cedarwood, citronella, frankincense, ginger, juniper, lavender, pine, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, tea tree, and thyme. Keep in mind some of these oils may not be suitable for everyone so please refer to my post about essential oil safety.
I would also like point out that there are some things to keep in mind when using eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus is contraindicated if there is a history of epilepsy, hypertension, liver complaints, or gastrointestinal inflammation. The oil will also neutralize the effects of homeopathic remedies so don't use it at the same time. It is very important not to exceed the stated dose. Eucalyptus should not be applied to the face or nose in young children. It can cause stinging on the skin if applied undiluted since the constituent eucalyptol, or 1,8 cineole, can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Drug interaction may occur so use caution when administering the oil if you are taking prescribed medication.