8 Unique Uses for Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Migrating all the way from Down Under to China, the current top producer, eucalyptus essential oil comes from the Australian-native Tasmanium Blue Gum tree, an evergreen with a relatively recent medicinal history. Upon first Western discovery, eucalyptus was dubbed “Sidney Peppermint” thanks to similarities to the English Mentha piperita. Current uses do indicate similarities between the two, but we know now as they quickly realized then, that eucalyptus stands out as a strong, efficient oil in its own right.
Eucalyptus' Secret Weapon
Essential oils can carry hundreds of components in every drop, each with its own benefits and effects. Chemists analyze these components to determine what the oil is doing and how, which helps us to know how to use the oils safely and effectively.
At first, the strong component in eucalyptus was named “eucalyptol,” indicating its uniqueness among other oils. Now, we call it cineole, and its effects and potential are quite remarkable. Scientists can't get enough of this powerful substance, with over a thousand studies returned on a search for cineole, and more added all the time.
Eucalyptus introduced us to cineole, with 80-95% of eucalyptus essential oil comprised of it, but scientists have since discovered that other plants can carry it as well. Some notable essential oils that contain cineole include ginger, helichrysum, rosemary, tea tree, and peppermint – so, perhaps the initial association between eucalyptus and peppermint was not so far off base! In fact, the similarities shared between plants and their essential oil derivatives may contribute to that amazing, mysterious synergistic effect that essential oil blends create.
Looking to the Research
With so much research directed toward cineole and eucalyptus, there is much to say about studies done on its effects and the possible implications of their results.
Eucalyptus essential oil is proving itself as a strong respiratory support, with anti-inflammatory effects and benefits for breathing. Not only do we enjoy it for acute respiratory symptoms, but a breakthrough study published in Drug Research looked even further – intro chronic illness. This study evaluated the effect of inhaled eucalyptus essential oil in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and found it beneficial for long-term treatment with promising results. (1)
Another impressive find relates to the antibacterial effects of eucalyptus essential oil. Drug-resistant bacteria are a major public health concern worldwide, with both treatment and prevention desperately needed. So, researchers at the University of Illinois looked to eucalyptus for an answer that,
“…responds to the need to reduce the number of contagious MDR/XRD-TB patients, protect their immediate environment, and interrupt the rapid spread by laying the groundwork for an inhalation therapy based on anti-TB-active constituents of the essential oil (EO) of Eucalyptus citriodora.”
By analyzing the reactions between eucalyptus and the resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria, they found that some variations of the oil successfully killed the bacteria more than 90% of the time. (2)
On what seems to be a completely different note, French scientists shared their findings with the Journal of Food Science after evaluating six different oils with antioxidant status for their ability to address hypertension. (3) The efficacy of eucalyptus oil on heart relaxation was significant, and while we cannot say that means you can neglect antihypertensive medications, the research is promising and we hope to see further details emerge over time.
History of Eucalyptus
Folklore and oral history may not be as solid as scientific evidence, but they tell a story that is worth acknowledging.
The story goes that an English settler in Australia badly wounded his thumb with an axe. His father, who knew Aboriginal remedies, suggested tying a eucalyptus leaf to the thumb like a tight bandage once it had been stitched closed. This remedy was known as “kino,” and was used frequently. The settler's surgeon later commented on how well his thumb had healed without succumbing to infection. With this and similar stories circulating, Joseph Bosisto and other pharmacists saw the opportunity to begin producing eucalyptus essential oil commercially, which they did in 1852.
8 Unique Benefits
In the light of popular use, to excuse the pun, towns used eucalyptus oil that was converted into a gas to light their homes, hotels, and shops. Little did they know that they stumbled upon some pretty powerful aromatherapy benefits as well!
While we don't light our homes with eucalyptus, we have tried a few of these 8 unique and effective remedies including the potent oil:
- Expectorant and Purifier – When you've got a cold or the flu, you might feel like your head will explode if it cannot expel mucous. Eucalyptus works as an expectorant to ease that discomfort, and as a bonus, it can help the body to remove toxins and threats that make it all feel worse. Try dropping several drops of eucalyptus essential oil into a diffuser while you sleep to help clear your breathing and improve sleep. Or, for a more powerful application, drop 10 drops into hot water, then lean over it with a towel “tented” around your head. Breathe deeply for five to ten minutes and enjoy the relief.http://amzn.to/1T756s3
- Scalp Tonic – Cleanse and refresh your scalp and hair with a few drops of eucalyptus mixed into coconut or olive oil. The carriers will moisturize while the eucalyptus relieves itchy skin and dandruff.
- Hands & Feet Cleanser – Grease can't stand a chance against eucalyptus, making a strong case for its inclusion in homemade cleansers – or, if you're up for a real treat, a refreshing salt soak for hands or feet.
- Potent Cleaning Agent – If you enjoy the fragrance of eucalyptus, you may already include it in your cleaning recipes. What you may not know is that it is highly antimicrobial, helping to clear surfaces of potential illness. If you're making a cleaner of any sort, you need to add eucalyptus.
- Essential Filters – Spread the love! Eucalyptus dropped onto the air filer in your home can help to circulate fresh, rejuvenating scents to the whole house.
- Stain Removal – If you have stained fabric surfaces, give eucalyptus essential oil a try at removal. Of course, you want to make sure (in an inconspicuous spot) that the oil is compatible with the blend of fabric you have – just in case a random synthetic blend reacts poorly to the eucalyptus oil.
- Air Freshener – Refresh the mind and lift the spirits with a spritz bottle? With ten drops of eucalyptus EO added to a small spritzer bottle filled with distilled water after a long day at work, you can make this happen. Simply spray 12 inches from your face and enjoy inhaling the gentle mi
- Odor Control – After a long day of summer play, the summer laundry room can become quite noxious. Run stinky clothes and shoes through the dryer with a rag soaked in water and a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil. For shoes, stick the rag down into the shoe. This can help prevent odors as well as help keep the shape intact!
And, yes, even Fido can enjoy the benefits of eucalyptus oil. In fact, centuries of use suggest that eucalyptus is safe in nearly any application, as long as common sense is followed. Keep it out of eyes and wounds (both yours and your pet's!) for safety, and always dilute properly.
Safety & Contraindications
When it comes to drug interactions and contraindications, there are literally textbooks devoted to the study of essential oil safety, and I must defer to the chemists, pharmacists and experts who understand this complicated topic more than I.
With that said, as a trained researcher and doctor, I think it’s important to note that there is virtually no research out there discussing how essential oils interact with drugs in human clinical trials. Essentially, what this means is that essential oil safety is still a wild frontier in the science community and no one really knows (for certain) how essential oils will interact with drugs or your body.
Let common sense be your guide. Still, be sure to maintain proper dilutions, and general safety considerations still apply. As always, discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur and consult your physician immediately.