EUCALYPTUS OIL HISTORICAL INFORMATION
The Eucalyptus Tree is commonly associated with koala bears, as Eucalyptus leaves are their main source of food. Most of the 700 varieties of Eucalyptus grow like trees while others grow like shrubs. The tree goes by several nicknames such as Fever-Tree, Blue Gum Tree, and Stringy Bark Tree, depending on its location in the world. Despite the multiplicity of Eucalyptus varieties, they share common characteristics including their fresh, crisp, clean, sweet and camphoraceous scents, which are sometimes further described as having hints of lemon, peppermint, or woody nuances. The shared trait that they are best known for, however, is the beneficial healing properties of their leaves, which have made this tree’s essential oils widely used as a traditional and natural medicine for centuries. First used by the Aboriginal people of Australia, who referred to is as “kino” and used it to heal most wounds, Eucalyptus leaves were made into infusions and used to treat body pains, colds, sinus congestions, and fevers, hence the nickname Fever-Tree.
An English legend narrates the first use of Eucalyptus tree leaves for medicinal purposes: When an early English settler’s thumb was accidentally cut by an ax, his father advised him to apply a bandage made of bound Eucalyptus leaves around the stitched cut – something he had learned from studying Aboriginal folk medicine. A surgeon that later examined the wound was impressed by the speed of healing and the absence of infection in the finger. As stories like this spread throughout Australia, pharmacists began developing a plan to produce Eucalyptus Oil commercially. Shortly thereafter, leaves from the Eucalyptus radiata species began to be distilled.
Although Australia is the origin and the leading source of Eucalyptus Oil, the Eucalyptus tree and its essential oil production spread to other parts of the world including Brazil, Europe, Greece, China, and India. It was used for its disinfectant and expectorant properties in Chinese, Greek, European, and Ayurvedic medicine. Of the 700 species of Eucalyptus throughout the world, approximately 500 of them produce essential oil, and global Eucalyptus Oil production is mainly from the Eucalyptus globulus species, more commonly known as “Blue Gum.” In the 1880s, surgeons began using Eucalyptus Oil in operations due to its antiseptic properties. Today, Eucalyptus continues to be a popular essential oil that is used in vapor rubs, rash creams, inhalers, ointments, and in dental hygiene products to support the respiratory system, to enhance oral health, and to soothe physical discomforts.
BENEFITS OF EUCALYPTUS OIL
Eucalyptus Essential Oil’s active chemical components contribute to its reputation as a purifying, cleansing, clarifying, and immune-boosting oil that is ideal for use on skin and in aromatherapy. It is known for its ability to reduce or eliminate harmful surface and airborne bacteria, and infections upon contact. It facilitates easy breathing, enhances feelings of relaxation, creates a refreshing feeling when used in massages, soothes nervous tension, and helps clear the mind, among its various other benefits. These healing benefits can be attributed to the oil’s anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and stimulating qualities, among other valuable properties.
The main constituents of Eucalyptus Oil are: a-Terpineol, 1,8-cineole (Eucalyptol), a-pinene, ß-pinene, Sabinene, Camphene, Limonene, p-Cymene, Camphor, Globulol, Citronellal, a-phellandrene, Aromadendrene, and Piperitone.
(Though not all the constituents listed apply to all Eucalyptus varieties, these are the main constituents in most varieties).
a-TERPINEOL is known to exhibit the following activity:
1,8-CINEOLE is known to exhibit the following activity:
• Increased blood flow
• Reduced tension headaches
PINENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
SABINENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
CAMPHENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
LIMONENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
P-CYMENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
CAMPHOR is known to exhibit the following activity:
GLOBULOL is known to exhibit the following activity:
CITRONELLOL is known to exhibit the following activity:
AROMADENDRENE is known to exhibit the following activity:
• Disinfectant helps support the treatment of infections,
PIPERITONE is known to exhibit the following activity:
Used in aromatherapy, the cooling scent of Eucalyptus Essential Oil is known to relieve mental exhaustion by boosting circulation to the brain, thereby stimulating the mind out of sluggishness, and rejuvenating the spirit. Those suffering from sinus congestion can diffuse Eucalyptus Essential Oil in the bedroom throughout the night to clear nasal passages and to eliminate harmful airborne bacteria that contribute to the feeling of being unwell.
Eucalyptus Oil effectively removes grease and grime, making it an excellent cleaning product for the kitchen. It may also be mixed in with homemade hand soaps and laundry detergents. Added to natural homemade sprays as a cleaning agent, it can be used for washing toilet bowls, floors, countertops, and windows, just to name a few surfaces. The clean scent makes an effective fabric freshener, and it can be mixed with Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oils, diluted with water, then applied to odorous materials such as the insides of shoes. Furthermore, as an air cleanser, Eucalyptus Oil is beneficial for eliminating mold that could contribute to respiratory issues.
When used cosmetically to nourish hair, Eucalyptus Essential Oil will moisturize an itchy scalp and remove dandruff flakes. As a natural insecticide, it is even known to have the ability to eliminate lice. This germicidal oil’s antiseptic properties make it a popular choice for use on wounds, cuts, burns, bites, stings, and sores. Besides soothing the irritated skin, it relieves pain, protects any openings from becoming infected, and promotes faster healing. Added to warm baths, Eucalyptus Essential Oil’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help to rejuvenate stiff and sore muscles.
• COSMETIC: antibacterial, anti-microbial, antiseptic, stimulating
• MEDICINAL: antibacterial, anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, phagocytic, stimulating
• ODOROUS: anti-microbial, antiseptic, decongestant, phagocytic, stimulating
CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING QUALITY EUCALYPTUS OIL
Although considered to be “evergreen,” Eucalyptus Trees can lose their light green oval leaves, which darken with age and which contain the potent volatile oil that can be used medicinally. This is true for all other parts of the plant, too, including the bark and roots.
The only major oil-producing species that can be mechanically harvested is the Eucalyptus polybractea species, better known as Blue Mallee. The harvester cuts it a few centimeters above ground and the cut botanical material is tossed into a chute that leads to a mobile still, which is towed behind. When approximately three tonnes of Eucalyptus leaves fill the still, it is detached and replaced with another still. The process is repeated until two or three stills are filled with the leaves. At the end of this collection process, the stills are towed to the distillery.
HOW IS EUCALYPTUS OIL EXTRACTED?
Eucalyptus Essential Oil is steam distilled from fresh or partially dried Eucalyptus leaves. The geographical conditions under which the tree grows all have an impact on the yield of oil as well as the chemical composition. They include factors such as the environment, season, climate, water availability, soil nutrients, UV radiation, stage of plant development, genetic variation, the part of the plant collected, and the drying process.
The oils produced are clear and have scents characteristic of their botanical species. The oils’ distinctive aromatic profiles also depend on the proportions of the individual chemical constituents they contain, which are determined more by genetic factors rather than environmental ones. The species, then, is the most influential factor for determining the oil’s quality and use. These factors together govern the value of the oil.
USES OF EUCALYPTUS OIL
The uses for Eucalyptus Essential Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal and odorous to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, lotions, soaps, shampoos, and sprays, to name a few suggestions for homemade products.
Used in aromatherapy, the fragrance of Eucalyptus Essential Oil is inhaled and scent receptors in the brain’s emotional powerhouse process the smell as refreshing. A few drops of this invigorating oil placed in the hand while showering can be inhaled to promote a sense of vitality. Eucalyptus Oil’s expectorant properties also make it effective in facilitating the relief of congestion and respiratory tract infections. For relief from congestion, mix a few drops in a steaming bowl of hot water and lean over it to inhale the aromatic vapors with a towel draped over the head and bowl for a few minutes. The eyes should be closed to prevent irritation. It has traditionally been used to relieve the discomforts associated with fatigue, headaches, colds, sinusitis, mucous congestion, muscle aches and pains, and asthma.
Diluted with a carrier oil and used topically in a moisturizer or blended massage oil, Eucalyptus Essential Oil’s stimulating properties may help to revitalize the skin and tired muscles. Known to have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, this soothing oil provides relief to minor burns, sores, bites, and cuts by decreasing pain, inhibiting bleeding, eliminating bacteria from the wound, and promoting the closing of scars. Diluted in a warm bath, Eucalyptus Essential Oil may relieve respiratory discomfort and dermal inflammation.
As a disinfecting air spray, Eucalyptus Essential Oil acts as a natural, anti-microbial, non-toxic air freshener that removes bacteria, viruses, and mold from the environment. Diluted with water, this spray can freshen the room and eliminate the body odors trapped in shoes and sports gear. A surface cleaning agent can be made by combining Eucalyptus Oil with Lemon and Peppermint Essential Oils and then diluting the blend with water before using it on kitchen and bathroom surfaces.