The oil that comes from the eucalyptus tree is used in many ways, such as an antiseptic, a perfume, as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a flavoring, in dental preparations, and in industrial solvents, to name a few, as previously noted. Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on eucalyptus essential oil — and how it can benefit your health and well-being:
What is eucalyptus oil?
Eucalyptus oil is the distilled oil that comes from dried eucalyptus leaves, and is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet, woody smell.3 According to an article published in the journal Chemistry of Natural Compounds, more than 700 different species of eucalyptus exist in the world, and at least 500 of which produce a type of essential oil.4 Some of the common types of eucalyptus plants used for essential oil production include:5
- Eucalyptus globulus — This is the species that has received widespread attention from botanists and chemists. Its oil is the best known and most used of all eucalyptus oils, with a cineole (a colorless, liquid terpene ether with a camphor-like odor) content between 60 and 70 percent. One thing to remember about the crude oil made from this plant is that it's often processed to raise the amount of cineole in the product.6
- Eucalyptus polybractea — This is commonly known as “Blue Mallee,” a small mallee-type tree. Its crude or single-distilled oil is has a high cineole content, falling between 80 and 88 percent.7
- Eucalyptus radiata — Commonly known as “narrow-leaved peppermint,” this is a tall, single-trunk tree with fibrous bark.8 Its crude oil is said to possess a refreshing aroma, and a cineole content of 65 to 70 percent.9
- Eucalyptus citriodora — Referred to as the “lemon-scented gum,” this large tree has gone through a name change and is now called Corymbia.10 The principal constituent of the oil is citronellal, that's often used for industrial and perfume purposes.
Australian aboriginals used oil-containing eucalyptus leaf infusions and mixtures as a traditional medication for chills,11 body pains, fever, sinus congestions and colds.12
Surgeons also begun utilizing eucalyptus oil as an antiseptic during operations in the 1880s.13 Toward the end of the century, the oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters. Eucalyptus oil was then registered as both an insecticide and miticide (a substance that kills mites and ticks) in the U.S. in 1948.14
Uses of eucalyptus oil
Diluted eucalyptus oil may be helpful in addressing coughs, bronchitis, and sinus and respiratory infections.15 It can also act as an insect repellent and may help treat wounds, burns and ulcers. It is known to possess antiseptic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.”
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