Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is a member of the Myrtaceae or Myrtle family, the same family whose trees produce allspice, clove, and guava. Eucalyptus oil is created when leaves are steam distilled. It’s been used medicinally to treat a variety of general ailments, such as asthma and nasal congestion. Its derivatives are used in mouthwash, cough drops, and cold medicines. The oil is used in aromatherapy for its purifying and clarifying benefits.
Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia but have been posited with high success in locations with Mediterranean-like climates. Trees can grow as tall as 200 feet and can have trunks up to 7 ft in diameter. Eucalyptus trees are most known for their extremely fragrant leaves. There are over 400 species of eucalyptus, though Eucalyptus globulus is the most-used tree for producing eucalyptus oil, worldwide. Eucalyptus leaves are a favorite snack among koalas, and contrary to popular belief, koalas do not eat the leaves to get intoxicated.
Eucalyptus has a cool, medicinal scent. In aromatherapy, its minty and earthy scent is used for its cleansing and purifying properties. Its mentholated fragrance is used to stimulate the senses and can be used to induce the clearing of respiratory airways. Its renowned scent is camphorous and herbal, and it’s probably most famously known as the scent in vapor rubs and other products used for providing soothing, pulmonary relief.
Eucalyptus has been used by Aborigines, Australia’s indigenous people, to treat chest congestion, fevers, and wounds. As knowledge of its benefits spread, it began being used across the world as an antiseptic. Its popularity rose during world war 1, and it was reportedly used to treat meningitis as well as the influenza outbreak of 1919. Eucalyptus has been found extremely effective against dust mites and other allergens, and in the late 20th century, manufacturers began putting eucalyptus in their products such as cleaning products, respiratory therapy, and more.
Essential oils are made up of naturally-occurring chemical components, some of which have been studied and proven to provide benefits. Though there is no way for science to explain all of the holistic benefits that essential oils, like eucalyptus, offer.
Different species of eucalyptus trees produce different oils with different properties, but the majority of eucalyptus oils contain the following:
- Pinene - increases alertness, improves short-term memory, stimulates creativity, antianxiety, and anti-inflammatory (source)
- Limonene - anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties (source)
- Phellandrene - antihyperalgesic, antidepressive, and believed tocontribute to feelings of comfort and stimulation (source)
Smelling eucalyptus oil has been found to be an analgesic, reducing the pain of those who smell its aroma. A study found then when participants inhaled eucalyptus oil, they reported “significantly decreased” pain scores than those who received the placebo. (source)
In addition, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, eucalyptus can be used to help with joint pain. When applied topically to the skin (diluted in a carrier oil), eucalyptus provides a warm, comforting feeling that spreads out to the outermost portion of the affected area.
Blood Pressure and Stress Reducer
In the same study that found its pain-alleviating qualities, researchers also discovered that eucalyptus oil positively affected blood pressure. Study participants who inhaled eucalyptus oil showed a statistically significant decrease in blood pressure. Researchers believe this has to do with the relaxing effect eucalyptus has on the sympathetic nervous system, which is the system responsible for releasing adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) into the body. By working to suppress the sympathetic nervous system, eucalyptus helps contribute to a reduction in stress. (source)
Eucalyptus oil is used by aromatherapists for its clarifying abilities. The cool, menthol scent of eucalyptus is known for its ability to relieve mental fatigue by boosting brain stimulation. Its scent is known not just for its ability to revive the mind, but its powers for balancing and clarifying the body and spirit as well.
Eucalyptus has also been observed to produce immunomodulating effects, such as increasing the number of white blood cells (the cells used to fight off diseases). (source) Its immune-enhancing abilities can also be observed when fighting infections. Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties (mainly due to its component 1,8 cineol). Its ability to fight off microscopic invasions has been observed across such ailments as Tuberculosis, Staph, and Candida (Yeast). (source)
It’s also frequently used to suppress cases of the cold, flu, and other infections of the upper respiratory tract. In fact, one study found that eucalyptus and bergamot oil killed the influenza virus within 10 minutes of exposure. (source)
Eucalyptus has been used as a traditional respiratory aid for centuries. When inhaled or applied topically, eucalyptus has a proven ability to clear airways and help in the facilitation of easy breathing. It’s been found to suppress respiratory infections such as bronchitis and strep, which is why it’s such a famous ingredient in over the counter pulmonary rubs. (source) (source)
Eucalyptus is also a cough suppressant as well as an expectorant. It helps clear the airways by removing blockages and loosening phlegm. It can also suppress mucins from blocking the airways to begin with.
Its antiseptic abilities have made eucalyptus a choice to help with dental care for centuries, and recent studies have provided more evidence for eucalyptus’ iad in the health of your pearly whites. A study found that eucalyptus extract in gum had a positive effect on periodontal health. It stated that eucalyptus was linked to a reduction in plaque accumulation, there was less bleeding on probing, they were lower on the gingival index, and there was a reduction in periodontal probing depth. (source) (source)
Eucalyptus is a cool, earthy oil with a mentholated scent that can help energize the mind and encourage creativity. It was traditionally used as an antiseptic and wound healer, and is currently used in a multitude of respiratory aids. Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled or used topically to reap its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibacterial effects and the oil can be used to boost the immune system, reduce respiratory issues, and fight off infections. If you’re interested in seeing the benefits of eucalyptus oil for yourself, you can find it in our Immortelle roll on.