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Eucalyptus: 6 Impressive Properties And Benefits

Eucalyptus is a medicinal plant whose leaves are used to make tea, inhalations, or essential oil

 

The leaves of the eucalyptus plant are considered a natural mucolytic

 

 

Traditional medicine from all over the world, especially in China, India, and Greece, has incorporated many types of medicinal plants in treating a variety of ailments. 

  

Although modern medicine has evolved greatly and some of the natural remedies have been forgotten, a few of them still live on. This is the case with eucalyptus, the star plant of our article. 
 

We will have a look at what the eucalyptus plant is, what properties and benefits it has, as well as what side effects it can cause when used. We also aim to examine the different preparation methods, from tea to infusions, and essential oil. 

What is Eucalyptus?

The eucalyptus plant, scientific name Eucalyptus, is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. There are more than 700 species of eucalypts, also called gum trees, and the majority of them are indigenous of Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia.

The reason why this perennial, evergreen plant is so famous is that it grows at a rapid pace, represents a great source of wood pulp, and its essential oils have a multitude of medicinal benefits which is why they are commonly used in homemade remedies. 

Eucalyptus essential oil can be employed in many different ways, ranging from aromatic to repellent uses, down to antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. The eucalyptus leaves are distilled using vapor which results is a colorless, strongly aromatic oil with sweet, woody nuances. 

There are other potential uses that require eucalyptus leaves such as eucalyptus honey, infusions, and teas which have potent health benefits due to their chemical properties that help regulate blood sugar, control bacterial and fungal infections, as well as alleviate pain and inflammation. 

Eucalyptus melliodora, showing flowers and opercula

 

What are the benefits of eucalyptus?

According to different traditional medicine trends, the eucalyptus tree possesses a wide array of health benefits and medicinal properties. Not all of them, however, have been certified by scientific research. 

1. Colds and respiratory infections

Eucalyptus - when taken in pill form, honey infusion, or essential oil, it is typically used to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold.

This miraculous plant also has decongesting properties when inhaled which is why eucalyptus essential oil inhalations are a famous remedy for respiratory infections.  

Although the eucalyptus plant is used as a component in prescription drugs with expectorant effects, its dry leaves can also be used for the same purpose, as well as the essential oil. Mixed with hot water, this concoction gives off healing vapors that help treat respiratory issues. 

2. Boosts the immune system 

As reported by scientific research, one of the significant benefits of eucalyptus oil is stimulating the immune system. A few of the ailments that can be alleviated due to the properties of this medicinal gum tree are:

  • Arthritis

  • Ulcers

  • Herpes simplex 

  • Bladder diseases

  • Fever

  • Flu

  • Diabetes

3. Antibacterial effects 

Traditional medicine features many eucalyptus oil uses and one of the most important ones was cleaning and disinfecting medical equipment. Scientists have linked this practice to the antibacterial and antimicrobial effects of this flowering tree. 

The same research indicates that eucalyptus essential oil has antifungal properties that can help fight against pathogens present in the body. 

4. Mosquito repellent

It has been proven that the eucalyptus plant is an effective mosquito repellent and ever since the 1940s, eucalyptus essential oil has been successfully used as a mite and tick insecticide. Eucalyptus globulus, also called the Tasmanian bluegumis the primary source of global eucalyptus oil production, with China being the most significant commercial producer.

Lemon eucalyptus is another species of eucalypt used for its repellent properties and the lemon eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents.

Eucalyptus globulus is the principal source of eucalyptus oil worldwide

 

5. Analgesic properties

Eucalyptus extract has natural analgesic properties which makes it an ideal home remedy for muscular and articular pain.

It is particularly useful for alleviating discomfort associated with sprained muscles, arthritis, hematomas, and lower back pain. 

6. Oral hygiene 

Finally, due to the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of the eucalyptus essential oil, it has been successfully used as an ingredient in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other dental solutions. 

Moreover, its effects against bacteria help fight cavities and periodontium diseases. 

Eucalyptus has been reported to cure other ailments which have yet to be scientifically proven: 

  • Head lice

  • Headaches

  • Wounds

  • Burns

  • Acne

  • Liver and gallbladder problems

  • Loss of appetite

Side effects and precautions 

In line with the research conducted, products that are made with eucalyptus are generally safe for use when applied straight to the skin but only when the essential oil has been previously diluted in water or carrier oil. 

Due to its chemical components, the eucalyptus plant can cause slight irritation and burning sensations, which is why it is not recommended for areas such as the eyes or the genitals. 

It is considered completely unsafe to ingest eucalyptus oil or to chew on eucalyptus leaves, as they may result poisonous. 

Moreover, this medicinal plant can interact with certain prescription medication and gravely affect the liver when misused. We strongly recommend that people who are following a strict medication plan consult their doctor before taking any eucalyptus based solution or remedy. 

In most cases, the eucalyptus plant can have the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach pain 

Should the person experience intoxication or eucalyptus poisoning the symptoms to look out for are dizziness, suffocating, and pupil contraction and you should contact the nearest medical unit as soon as possible. 

References:

De Groot, A. C. & Schmidt, E. (2015) Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis, 73(6):381-386.

Kumar, A., Sharma, V. D. & Sing, A. K. (1988) Antibacterial properties of different Eucalyptus oils. Fitoterapia, 59(2):141-144.

Sartorelli, P., Marquioreto, A. D., Amaral-Baroli, A., Lima, M. E., & Moreno, P. R. (2007) Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oils from two species of Eucalyptus. Phytother Res, 21(3):231-233.

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