The Eucalyptus tree is originally from where the aborigines used the oil and leaves for medicinal purposes. However it now grows in many places the world over namely Egypt, Tahiti, South Africa, Southern Europe, India and also in California in the U.S.A. Most of the species of eucalyptus are evergreen but some species lose their leaves towards the end of summer. The leaves are leathery in texture and have glands which secrete a fragrant oil that is used for medicinal and other purposes.
Why should I be aware of this?
Eucalyptus is an invaluable aid in treating coughs and colds. It is also an effective natural insecticide and a homemade mosquito repellent. It is, thus a very good addition to the medicine cabinet of a conscious consumer, whose looking for green and natural alternative to synthetic chemicals.
Eucalyptus and health
The eucalyptus is known to be helpful in health problems like flu, colds, bronchitis, congestion, pneumonia and respiratory infections. Usually it is used in the form of a tincture or a tea made from the leaves.
- Colds and flus: The oil can be used to ease a blocked nose or decongest the chest. It can be used for steam inhalation by adding a few drops to boiling water and slowly inhaling the vapors. Alternately a few drops can be sprinkled on the pillow case at night, especially in the case of children. It can be massaged gently on the back and chest to provide relief from congestion.
- Tea prepared from eucalyptus leaves when used as a gargle is effective in easing the problems associated with sore throat.
- Disinfecting rooms: The oil is one of the most effective alternate Household Cleaners, as it is a powerful disinfectant especially in the flu season. Mix approximately 20 ml of the oil with 50 ml of water and spray it in the room several times a day.
- Arthritis and rheumatism: Eucalyptus oil can be mixed with n equal amount of baby or almond oil and massaged gently into the affected part. It provides tremendous relief.
- Mosquito and insect repellent: The oil is added to several commercially prepared mosquito and insect repellents. To make it at home mix one teaspoon of the oil into approximately 500gms of face cream. Apply liberally over the exposed parts of the body.
- Dust mites: The oil can be used to get rid of dist mites by adding a teaspoon of it to half a bucket of water and swabbing the floors with this. This is also an effective remedy for fleas.
- Tired feet: Soaking tired feet in a bucket of warm water to which a few drops of eucalyptus oil have been added provides a soothing relief.
- Bath water: A few drops of eucalyptus, oil added to bath water, act as an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
- Minor cuts and wounds: Since eucalyptus oil has antiseptic properties, a few drops can be added directly to a cleaned and dried wound.
- Lice: The oil is effective for killing head lice. Add 3ml of the oil to a bottle of shampoo. Apply the shampoo and leave on the head for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse hair well with plenty of water. Repeat if necessary after a few days.
- Insect bites: Apply a few drops directly on the sting site for quick relief.
- Disinfecting tubs: A lot of infection spreads from improperly cleaned bath tubs. Use eucalyptus oil to disinfect the tub and prevent fungal and bacterial infections.
- Headaches: Applying a few drops to the forehead and temples relives tension headaches.
All about eucalyptus
There are several hundred species of eucalyptus most of which yield essential oils. The oils of different species are different in character and it is important to know which species an oil belongs to understand its uses. The oils are used for industrial purposes, medicinal purposes and as aromatic oils.
- Aromatherapy: A few drops of eucalyptus oil mixed with an oil like almond oil can be used for body massage. The effects are invigorating.
- Deodorizing: It can be mixed with water and used as a room freshener, in smelly cupboards and to sanitize smelly shoes.
- Moths and silverfish: To discourage moths and silverfish from damaging clothes soak laundry in water to which a few drops of eucalyptus oil have been added before washing them.
- Sticky labels: To remove sticky labels, rub some eucalyptus oil into it with a cloth. Peel off after a few minutes.
- Repellent for animals: Rub onto the collars of pets with a cloth. Allow to dry for a few minutes.
- Dog fleas: Adding a few drops to the last rinse while bathing a dog is an effective way of getting rid of fleas.
- It is inflammable and should be kept away from heat and fire.
- Excess use of eucalyptus in teas or other decoctions used for pain relief and colds causes headaches and convulsions. In some cases it may even prove fatal.
- Some people may be sensitive to the oil. Always do a patch test before using it directly on the skin.
- Its high concentration makes it extremely toxic. Avoid ingesting it in large quantities and keep it out of the reach of children.
- It is known to cause kidney problems after prolonged use and is best avoided by those suffering from kidney problems and by pregnant women.
- An Australian Eucalyptus that was found Victoria in Australia is the tallest tree known to have existed. It was 435 feet tall when it was measured.
- Eucalyptus trees are the most common trees found in Australia.