Most people easily recognize the smell of eucalyptus, but many don’t realize that this evergreen tree also has a wide variety of uses. Koalas usually come to mind when thinking of eucalyptus, but humans also use it.
The most common type of eucalyptus, known as blue gum, grows primarily in Australia and Tasmania, but there are over 300 known variants of this plant. Eucalyptus leaves and leaf oil are commonly used for medicinal purposes, and it’s not uncommon to find eucalyptus in a number of over-the-counter medications, cleansers, and even air fresheners.
Eucalyptus comes in many forms
Leaves: In fresh or dried form, eucalyptus leaves are used as air fresheners and in medicinal teas.
Oil: In this form, eucalyptus is added to cough and cold medicines, dental products, antiseptics, and used directly to treat fevers.
The oils are also used in industrial mining and in aromatherapy.
Ointment: Applied directly to the skin, the plant is used to treat minor pains. It is also used in the composition of several over-the-counter ointments for the treatment of colds.
Sprays: Some companies sell the herb in spray form, allowing it to be used topically on humans and pets.
Some of the documented medicinal and health uses of eucalyptus include:
Treatment of respiratory diseases: Coughs, colds, sore throats, asthma and congestion seem to respond to medicines containing eucalyptus. Relieve congestion and cough by rubbing eucalyptus oil or ointment on the chest. Another method to relieve congestion and other respiratory problems is to boil eucalyptus leaves in a tight-fitting pot filled with water, then remove the pot from the heat to inhale the vapors. The oil from the plant can be mixed with hot water to create a mouthwash that helps relieve sore throats. As a natural antibacterial and decongestant, eucalyptus often reduces the intensity and duration of respiratory illnesses.
Burns, cuts, and insect bites: When applied topically, eucalyptus can be used as an antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.
Muscle and joint pain: Rubbing the muscles and joints with the oil from the leaves is known to provide temporary pain relief.
Bring down a fever: A small amount of oil taken internally can temporarily lower a fever.
Stimulant and anti-stress: Eucalyptus leaves and oil give off an aroma that can be useful in combating stress and fatigue.
Domestic uses of eucalyptus
Insect repellent: In Honduras and Venezuela the plant is used to repel insects.
Soaps and Cleaners: Commonly found in household cleaners, eucalyptus offers a healthy aroma and strong cleaning abilities. It is often used in spas and saunas for cooling and cleansing purposes.
Stain and Stain Remover: Some companies sell the oil for these purposes, claiming it doesn’t leave a stain and removes tough stains like chewing gum and ink.
Carpet cleaning: In a less concentrated form than stain remover, eucalyptus spray can be used as a natural carpet cleaner without soaking.
Doing laundry: Adding a teaspoon of oil to heavily soiled clothes can clean and refresh them.
Garden Spray: You can use this spray directly on the base of plants to keep pets away.
For the building
In Australia, eucalyptus trees are often used as timber. They are ideal as a building material because they grow very quickly and their use does not lead to deforestation. In countries where the tree is not part of the natural habitat, eucalyptus cultivation has not been as successful. It can have a negative effect on native flowers and plants, and doesn’t seem to grow as well outside of its own habitat.
Eucalyptus branches can be used as perches for birds, providing them with antioxidants and other valuable minerals like calcium and magnesium. Some breeders use eucalyptus to line bird nests because mites and ticks do not live near this plant. Koalas and other animals feed on eucalyptus in the wild.
Eucalyptus Active Ingredients
Eucalyptus leaves contain tannins which are used for the treatment of inflammations. The oil derived from the leaves and branch tips contains cineole, which is a natural antiseptic.
Precautions and Concerns
Although topical and aromatic use of eucalyptus is generally safe for anyone over the age of two, internal use should be considered with caution and only in small doses, especially in young children and people elderly. Even when used topically, eucalyptus can cause a rash or skin irritation if used in a concentrated form.
People with hypertension, kidney, stomach or liver problems, diabetics, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use it without the advice of a doctor. As it is known to affect blood sugar levels, insulin-dependent diabetics should be especially careful. It is not difficult for adults to overdose on eucalyptus oil, so medicinal recipes should be followed carefully.
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