Eucalyptus facts and benefits

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Eucalyptus facts and benefits

Eucalyptus Quick Facts
Name: Eucalyptus
Scientific Name: Eucalyptus globulus
Origin Tasmania and southeastern Australia
Shapes Woody fruits or capsules are roughly cone-shaped
Taste Acrid, bitter
Health benefits Help in diabetes management & Boosts the immunity
Eucalyptus scientifically known as Eucalyptus globule is very important and highly exploited plant belonging to the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family. There are more than 300 species of eucalyptus, and Eucalyptus globulus is one of the most well-known species. Its common names are Blue Gum, Southern Blue Gum, Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eurabbie, Blue Eucalyptus, eucalyptus tree, ironbark, blood wood, gum tree, Australian fever tree and stringy bark tree. The tree is native to Tasmania and southeastern Australia. Its name is actually derived from the Greek word “eucalyptos,” which means “well covered,” and refers to the cuplike membrane that covers the budding flowers of the tree. The tree is quite popular because of its characteristic aroma which comes from the volatile oil content in the leaves and bark of the tree. Dried leaves and oil are basically used to make medicines. Though eucalyptus is used medicinally for many purposes, there isn’t sufficient scientific proof so far to rate it as effective for any of them. The tree is also popularly known as “gum tree” because of the sticky rubbery substance that flows from the injured bark.

Eucalyptus is very important and highly exploited plant because of its wood and oil. It is commercially grown in tropical and subtropical areas all over the world. Since it absorbs huge quantities of water from the ground, eucalyptus can be used for draining of marshes. It can also remove malaria by destroying wet habitats which are essential for development of mosquito’s eggs. Unfortunately, drying of the soil negatively affects other plant species.

Plant Description

Eucalyptus is a large, fast-growing evergreen tree that normally grows about 30 to 55 m (98 to 180 ft.) tall. Today, the tallest measured specimen named Centurion is 99.6 meters (327 feet) tall. The tree is found growing in gentle, sloping coastal hills, damp marshy areas on moist loams and clays. It grows well on a wide range of soils, but requires good drainage, low salinity, and a soil depth of 2 feet (0.6 m) or more.

Tree can be divided into four size categories:

  • Small: to 10 meters (33 feet) in height
  • Medium-sized: 10–30 meters (33–98 feet)
  • Tall: 30–60 meters (98–197 feet)
  • Very tall: over 60 meters (200 feet)

Bark

Appearance of eucalyptus bark varies with the age of the plant, the manner of bark shed, the length of the bark fibers, the degree of furrowing, the thickness, the hardness, and the color. All mature eucalypts put on an annual layer of bark, which contributes to the increasing diameter of the stems.

Leaves

Leaves on a mature eucalyptus plant are commonly lanceolate, petiolate, apparently alternate and waxy or glossy green. The first leaves are broad, without stalks, of a shining whitish-green and are opposite and horizontal, but after four or five years these are succeeded by others of a more ensiform or sword-shaped form, 6 to 12 inches long, bluish-green in hue, which are alternate and vertical, i.e. with the edges turned towards the sky and earth, an arrangement more suited to the climate and productive of peculiar effects of light and shade.

Flower

Flowers consists of several fluffy stamens which may be white, cream, yellow, pink, or red; in bud, the stamens are surrounded in a cap known as an operculum which is composed of the fused sepals or petals, or both. Thus, flowers have no petals, but instead decorate themselves with the many showy stamens. As the stamens expand, the operculum is forced off, splitting away from the cup-like base of the flower; this is one of the features that unite the genus. Flowers produce a great abundance of nectar, providing food for many pollinators including insects, birds, bats and possums.

Fruit

Between July to August it flowers with single flowers, which are followed by woody fruits or capsules that are roughly cone-shaped and have valves at the end which open to release the seeds, which are waxy, rod-shaped, about 1 mm in length, and yellow-brown in color.

History

Australian aborigines have used eucalyptus for hundreds of years as a remedy for fever, wounds, coughs, asthma, and joint pain. Australian settlers named the eucalyptus the fever tree because of its disease-fighting properties. Baron Ferdinand von Miller, a German botanist and explorer, was responsible for making the properties of eucalyptus known to the world in the mid-1800s. Seeds of the tree were sent to Algiers, France and planted. The trees thrived and, because of the drying action of the roots, turned one of the marshiest areas of Algiers into a dry and healthy environment, thus driving away malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Eucalyptus trees were then planted in temperate areas around the world to prevent malaria. As a result, eucalyptus trees are now cultivated in China, India, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, South and North Africa, Algeria, South America, and in the southern portion of the United States.

Health benefits of Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is supposed to have a number of medicinal properties, although not all of them have been verified by research. Below we outline some of its potential health benefits.

1. Colds and respiratory problems

Eucalyptus is found used in a number of preparations to relieve symptoms associated with common cold like cough lozenges and inhalants. Herbal remedies also suggest using fresh leaves in a gargle to relieve a sore throat, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Also, eucalyptus oil vapor when inhaled appears to act as a decongestant. It is a popular home remedy for colds and bronchitis. Apart from that it may also act as an expectorant for loosening phlegm and easing congestion. A number of cough medications include eucalyptus oil, including Vicks VapoRub.(1)

2. Relieves stress

Eucalyptus leaves and oil helps in relaxing the senses and relieves stress. Stress relieving capability of the leaves and oil makes it a popular choice in aromatherapy. Eucalyptus has a natural soothing and sedative effect on the nerves which helps in relaxing the senses and can be highly effective to infuse new energy or freshness even when you are feeling tired. The mildly sedative property of the oil also makes it an ideal remedy for problems like insomnia or disturbed sleep. Eucalyptus tea made from the eucalyptus leaves can work as an effective treatment for easing mental tension and anxiety even in people suffering from chronic depression.(2)

3Anti-inflammatory Activity

Eucalyptus is a natural anti-inflammatory substance, so consuming its tea can do everything from easing aches and pains to protecting the heart. Eucalyptus tea is often suitable for people who suffer from asthma, as well as arthritis and chronic muscle strain. If you suffer a mild injury, drink this tea and watch the pain fade away. By reducing inflammation in the blood vessels and arteries, it can also protect heart health and prevent the start of atherosclerosis, thus protecting you from heart attacks and strokes.(3)

4. Effective to prevent cancer

Research has discovered that certain active compounds found in the eucalyptus oil extracted from the eucalyptus leaves might have anticancer properties. The exact process through which the extract might be able to prevent irregular cell division or formation of malignant tumor has not been discovered yet.

5. Boosts the immunity

Stronger immunity is the key for a healthy life. Strong immunity helps to keep you away from a number of common illnesses helping you to enjoy your life better. Tea prepared from the eucalyptus leaves is an ideal drink for boosting the immunity. However consuming the eucalyptus oil directly is not a good idea as it has the risk of overdose, but drinking the tea prepared from the eucalyptus leaves ensures that you are getting the active compound in the right dosage. Eucalyptus tea can provide protection to the body from a range of bacterial and yeast infections by the way of boosting your overall immunity.(4)

6. Might help in diabetes management

Research has proven that the tea made from the eucalyptus leaves can be effective to manage diabetes. However, the exact chemical pathway or interaction through which this action might be possible has not yet been discovered. So, if you have diabetes or you have a family history of diabetes consuming a cup or two of eucalyptus tea regularly can be a natural way to manage the blood sugar levels. However, if you already take medicines for diabetes, before you start drinking the tea, consult with your doctor as the blood sugar lowering ability of the tea might need to be balanced with your other medications.(5)

7. Promotes better skin health

Natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory property of eucalyptus oil makes the eucalyptus leaf extract an ideal component to be used for treating a number of skin problems. It can be used for curing skin infections like acne, pimples as well as eczema.  It can also be used efficiently to treat mild rashes or insect bites on the skin. However, always make sure that you use a paste of the eucalyptus leaves or eucalyptus oil diluted with carrier oil on the skin. Using the undiluted oil can harm the skin due to its high concentration.(6)

8. Pain relief

Eucalyptus oil consists of analgesic properties that may act as a pain reliever. In a research published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, scientists applied Eucalyptamint on the anterior forearm skin of 10 people. Eucalyptamint is used to treat muscle and joint pain linked to strains and sprains, arthritis, bruising, and backache.

Research concluded that “Eucalyptamint produced considerable physiologic responses that may be helpful for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up.”

9. Promote cardiovascular health

Eucalyptus tea has the ability to control inflammation and the active compounds present in it might be effective to control the inflammation and thickening of the blood vessels and arteries as well, promoting a better cardiovascular health.  It might even safeguard your heart by reducing the chance of atherosclerosis, minimizing the risk of heart attack.

10. Dental care

Eucalyptus has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which have been connected for use in some mouthwash and dental preparations. Eucalyptus s quite beneficial in fighting bacteria that cause tooth decay and periodontitis. Regular use of eucalyptus extract in chewing gum may encourage periodontal health, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

11. Treats liver and gallbladder problems

Extract of the eucalyptus leaves has certain organic compounds that have a detoxification effect on the body and can be used for treating a number of liver disorders as well as problems of gallbladder effectively. Frequent consumption of eucalyptus tea helps in detoxifying your liver promoting an overall better health.

Traditional uses and benefits of Eucalyptus

  • Eucalyptus leaves are a traditional Aboriginal herbal remedy.
  • Essential oil found in the leaves is a powerful antiseptic and is used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections.
  • Essential oil is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold remedies.
  • Mature leaves, without their petioles, are antiperiodic, antiseptic, aromatic, deodorant, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic and stimulant.
  • Leaves, and the essential oil they contain, are antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, febrifuge and stimulant.
  • Extracts of the leaves have antibacterial activity.
  • Essential oil obtained from various species of eucalyptus is a very powerful antiseptic, especially when it is old, because ozone is formed in it on exposure to air.
  • Oil can be used externally, to cuts, skin infections etc.
  • It can also be inhaled for treating blocked nasal passages
  • It can be gargled for sore throat and can also be taken internally for a wide range of complaints.
  • Resin is used internally in the treatment of diarrhea and bladder inflammation; externally it is applied to cuts etc.
  • Teas made of eucalyptus leaves were also used to reduce fevers.
  • For some years Eucalyptus-chloroform was used as one of the remedies in the tropics for hookworm, but it has now been almost universally abandoned as an inefficient anthelmintic.
  • Because of its skin-moistening properties, the oil is often an ingredient in dandruff shampoo.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Eucalyptus

  • Fatigue: Massage the body using Eucalyptus oil before taking bath.
  • Backache: Take 2 tsp of Eucalyptus oil. Heat it. Massage with lukewarm oil.
  • Chest Congestion: Apply few drops of Eucalyptus oil in a cup of boiling water. Inhale the steam.
  • Rheumatism: Massage the affected parts with warm Eucalyptus oil.
  • Wounds: Mix 2 tbsp of Eucalyptus oil in two cups of lukewarm water. Use it as a wash to get relief.
  • Bloating: Pour 5 drops of Eucalyptus oil in a glass of water and take it twice a day.
  • Insect Bites: Apply Eucalyptus oil over bitten area. It helps in a relieving pain.
  • Dyspnea: Put 5 to 5 drops of Eucalyptus oil in hot water. Take steam over it.
  • Emphysema: Take a fresh or dried 2 Eucalyptus leaves. Boil in a cup of water. Strain, Drink it twice a day.
  • Asthma: Put 3-4 drops of Eucalyptus oil in a paper towel. Keep it by your head while sleeping and breathe in the aroma. OR Put few drops of Eucalyptus oil in a pot of boiling water. Breathe in the aromatic steam by taking deep breathe.
  • Gingivitis: Add 3 ml of Eucalyptus oil in 40 ml of lukewarm water. Swish with it.
  • Whooping Cough: Add few drops of Eucalyptus oil in boiling water. Inhale the steam for 10 minutes twice a day.
  • Laryngitis: Add 4 to 5 drops of Eucalyptus oil in a liter of boiling water. Inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Bronchitis: Boil a liter of water. Add 8 to 10 drops in boiling water. Inhale the steam at bed time.
  • Diabetes: Roast 8 -10 leaves of Eucalyptus without getting them burned. Soak the roasted leaves in a glass of water overnight. Strain and consume in the next morning.
  • Sinusitis: Take 10 cloves, 10 field mint leaves and 10 Eucalyptus leaves. Boil in one liter water. Inhale the steam twice a day.
  • Emphysema: Put 3 tbsp of wintergreen and Eucalyptus in one jug of boiled water. Have steam bath.
  • Grey Hair: Boil Indian Gooseberry in water with 1 tsp of Eucalyptus oil in it. Put the mixture in an iron bowl for a night. In the morning add yogurt, lemon juice and egg white in it. Apply it in the scalp and hairs. Wash when it gets dry.
  • Tuberculosis: Mix powdered slippery elm, Eucalyptus oil and water in equal amount. Shake well and take internally one tbsp daily.
  • Blood Clots: Combine equal amount of slippery elm powder, Eucalyptus oil and water. Shake well and rub on the affected skin.
  • Fatigue: Take rosemary oil and Eucalyptus oil in equal amount. Massage the whole body with this oil.
  • Phlegm: Take the leaves of mint, Eucalyptus in equal amount. Boil in 2 liters of water. Remove from heat and take steam.
  • Dandruff: Take 2 tbsp of fresh Aloe Vera pulp in a bowl. Add one tbsp of Eucalyptus oil. Stir and massage your scalp with this mixture. Leave it in an hour. Wash off.
  • Chest Congestion: Take a bowl of boiling water. Add 4-5 drops of Aniseed oil, Eucalyptus oil, Fennel oil, Cardamom oil, Peppermint oilAngelica oil, Juniper oil and Hyssop Oil. Inhale the aromatic sell. OR Make a blend of all these oil with any massage oil and rub on the chest.
  • Lower Back pain: Add ginger paste in warm Eucalyptus oil. Apply this mixture on painful areas.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Chop the fresh mint leaves and squeeze the juice. Mix a few drops of Eucalyptus oil. Massage gently on the painful parts.
  • Sinusitis: Put few drops of Eucalyptus oil and black pepper powder in a hot water pot. Inhale the steam to clear your sinuses.
  • Lower Back pain: Mix 4-5 drops of Eucalyptus oil in ginger paste. Apply on the affected area.
  • Dark Circles: Take Witch Hazel oil, Almond oil, Eucalyptus oil, Rose oil and Chamomile Oil. Mix them together. Apply it under eyes twice a day.
  • Blemishes: Take Peppermint oil, Tea tree oil, Lavender oil, Eucalyptus oil, Geranium oil and lemon oil. Put all oils in a glass bottle together. Keep it for 2 days. Apply it over affected parts once a day.

Culinary Uses

  • An essential oil from the fresh or dried leaves is used as a flavoring in sweets, baked goods, ice cream etc.
  • Dried eucalyptus leaf is used as a flavoring agent in certain foods.
  • The nectar of some eucalypts produces high-quality monofloral honey.

How to Make Eucalyptus Tea

One of the most common foods you can create from eucalyptus is tea. It allows you to enjoy all the nutrients in an efficient manner and is very easy to make. Just follow the steps below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried eucalyptus leaves
  • Raw, organic honey (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour the leaves and the water in a pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Cover and steep for 10 minutes, and then strain.
  4. Add honey to desired taste (optional).
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Eucalyptus Tea Recipe for Asthma and Bronchitis

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces of dried eucalyptus leaves
  • 1 ounce of dried coltsfoot leaves
  • 1 ounce of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup of water

Procedure:

  1. Mix all herbs together, and pour 1 teaspoon of the mixture into a cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover and steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
  3. Serve and enjoy.

Eucalyptus Tea Recipe for Acne

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce of dried eucalyptus leaves
  • 1 ounce of dried dandelion roots and leaves
  • 75 ounces of dried licorice root
  • 1 cup of water
  • 75 ounces of fennel seeds

Procedure:

  1. Mix all herbs together and pour 1 teaspoon of the mixture into a cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover and steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
  3. Serve and enjoy.
  4. Alternatively, you can use the tea as a facial wash. Simply let the tea cool to a comfortable temperature first before applying to your skin.

Eucalyptus Tea Recipe for Head Colds

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces of dried eucalyptus leaves
  • 5 ounces of dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 ounce of dried peppermint leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • Raw, organic honey to taste

Procedure:

  1. Mix all herbs together, and pour 1 teaspoon of the mixture into a cup of boiling water.
  2. Add honey to taste.
  3. Serve and enjoy.

Infused Eucalyptus Oil

The great thing about eucalyptus oil is that you can make it in your own home, especially if you have leftovers from making tea. Below are a few things you need to make infused eucalyptus oil:

Ingredients:

  • Kitchen weighing scale
  • 2 ounces of eucalyptus leaves
  • Olive oil or a different carrier oil
  • Crock pot
  • Small-gauge mesh strainer
  • Airtight jar made of dark glass

Procedure:

  1. Gently crush the eucalyptus leaves with your fist to release the oil. You may use more or less depending on the size of your crock pot.
  2. Place the eucalyptus leaves in the crock pot.
  3. Add 1 cup of olive oil for every 1/4 ounce of leaves in the crock pot.
  4. Place the lid on the crock pot and turn it on at low heat. Let the mixture steep for 6 hours.
  5. Strain the eucalyptus oil through the mesh strainer and into the jar.
  6. Seal the jar and date it.
  7. Store the eucalyptus oil in a cool, dry spot, where it will remain viable for 6 months. If needed longer, store the oil in the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator, where it will last for about a year.

Other Facts

  • Essential oil is used in aromatherapy.
  • Leaves and the essential oil in them are used as an insect repellent.
  • Trees can also be planted in wet areas where mosquitoes abound. The ground will be dried out by the trees, making it unsuitable for the mosquitoes to breed.
  • Decoction of the leaves is used for repelling insects and vermin.
  • Africans use finely powdered bark as an insect dust.
  • An essential oil is obtained from the leaves.
  • It is used in perfumery and in medicines.
  • Essential oil is also used in spot removers for cleaning off oil and grease.
  • A yellow/brown dye is obtained from the young leaves.
  • Grey and green dyes are obtained from the young shoots.
  • Dark green dye is obtained from the young bark.
  • Wood is used for various purposes such as carpentry, construction, fences, piles, platforms, plywood, poles, sheds, tool handles and veneer.
  • Oil-rich wood is resistant to termites.
  • This is one of the best eucalypts for pulp production for making paper.
  • Eucalyptus oil should always be diluted in carrier oil such as almond, grape-seed, or other vegetable oil before applying to the skin.
  • Applying eucalyptus to the skin may cause a rash in those who are sensitive or allergic to eucalyptus.

Precautions

  • Citronellal, an essential oil found in most Eucalyptus species is reported to be mutagenic when used in isolation.
  • A large dose of eucalyptus oil has caused fatalities from intestinal irritation.
  • Death is reported from ingestion of 4 – 24 ml of essential oils, but recoveries are also reported for the same amount.
  • Symptoms include gastro enteric burning and irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, oxygen deficiency, weakness, dizziness, stupor, difficult respiration, delirium, paralysis, convulsions, and death, usually due to respiratory failure.
  • Plant is reported to cause contact dermatitis.
  • Sensitive persons may develop urticaria from handling the foliage and other parts of the plant.
  • Avoid if on treatment for diabetes mellitus.
  • People with asthma, seizures, liver disease, kidney disease, or low blood pressure should not use eucalyptus without first talking to their doctors.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use eucalyptus.
  • Avoid applying over wounds, cuts and broken skin.
  • It can affect the central nervous system, producing a loss of reflexes, loss of consciousness and may cause progression to a coma.
  • Children or infants should not be treated with eucalyptus.
  • Eucalyptus oil should not be applied to the facial areas (especially the nose or eyes) of small children or infants.
  • People with digestive problems, stomach or intestinal inflammations, biliary duct disorders, or liver disease should not take eucalyptus.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=27189#null

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/62576/

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/eucalyptus_globulus.htm

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=15919

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eucalyptus+globulus

http://www.floracatalana.net/eucalyptus-globulus-labill-

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/eucalyptus

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/eucaly14.html

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/700.html

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=eugl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus

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