Today, eucalyptus is considered the most widely planted tree in plantations around the world. In the 20th century, scientist the world over experimented with eucalyptus species. They are fast growing and have valuable timber, or can be used for pulpwood in honey production or essential oils. Here Joseph Nordqvist, MedicalNewsToday.com, reflects on health benefits of eucalyptus, medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D, MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT:
“The oil that comes from the eucalyptus tree is used as an antiseptic, a perfume, as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a flavoring, in dental preparations, and in industrial solvents.
Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic, Greek, and other European styles of medicine have incorporated it into the treatment of a range of conditions for thousands of years.
There are over 400 different species of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus globulus, also known as Blue Gum, is the main source of eucalyptus oil used globally.
Leaves are steam distilled to extract the oil, which is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet, woody scent. It contains 1,8-cineole, also known as eucalyptol.
Health benefits and uses of eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is believed to have a number of medicinal properties, although not all of them have been confirmed by research. Below we outline some of its potential health benefits.
Interestingly, toward the end of the 19th century, eucalyptus oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters. Modern research is now starting to back this practice up.
In February 2016, researchers from Serbia found evidence supporting the antimicrobial action of eucalyptus.
They concluded that a positive interaction between E. camaldulensis essential oil (a tree in the Eucalyptus family) and existing antibiotics could lead to the development of new treatment strategies for certain infections.
They hope that this property could eventually reduce the need for antibiotics.
A studyTrusted Source published in Clinical Microbiology & Infection suggests that eucalyptus oil may have antibacterial effects on pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract, including Haemophilus influenzae, a bacteria responsible for a range of infectionsTrusted Source, and some strains of streptococcus.
Colds and respiratory problems
Eucalyptus features in a range of preparations to relieve symptoms of the common cold, for example, cough lozenges and inhalants.
Herbal remedies recommend using fresh leaves in a gargle to relieve a sore throat, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Also, eucalyptus oil vapor appears to act as a decongestant when inhaled. It is a popular home remedy for colds and bronchitis.
It may act as an expectorant for loosening phlegm and easing congestion. A number of cough medications include eucalyptus oil, including Vicks VapoRub.
Researchers have called for further studies to clarify the possible therapeutic role of eucalyptus leaf extract in the treatment of respiratory tract infection.
Eucalyptus extract may act as a pain reliever, and research indicates that the oil may have analgesic properties. In a studyTrusted Source published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, scientists applied Eucalyptamint on the anterior forearm skin of 10 people.
The scientists concluded that “Eucalyptamint, produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up.”
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