The eucalyptus tree (also known as Tasmanian Blue Gum) is an evergreen tree native to Australia that’s often thought of as the main food source of koala bears. While it provides amazing nutritional support for wildlife, the essential oils extracted from eucalyptus leaves also have powerful medicinal properties.
According to English folklore, an early English settler had his thumb nearly severed by an ax. His father, who was well-versed in Aboriginal folk medicine, advised that he apply a bandage of tightly bound eucalyptus leaves around the cut after it was sutured.
Evidently, the Aborigines used eucalyptus, or “kino” as they referred to it, to heal most wounds they encountered. Later, when a surgeon saw the wound, he remarked how amazed he was because the thumb healed so quickly and without any trace of infection.
Reports like this spread throughout Australia, and pharmacists like Joseph Bosisto began tinkering with the idea of commercially producing eucalyptus oil in 1852. Soon thereafter, the leaves of Eucalyptus radiata were first distilled near Melbourne.
Top 10 Eucalyptus Oil Uses
Interestingly, small towns in Australia discovered that eucalyptus oil could be converted into a gas to light their homes, hotels and shops. Little did they know that they stumbled upon one of the most powerful forms of natural medicine ever.
Today, eucalyptus oil uses have a broad range of health benefits including:
1. Colds & Flu
Eucalyptus works as an expectorant and helps cleanse your body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that can make you feel sick. One of the most effective ways to utilize eucalyptus for colds is to drop several drops of the essential oil into your diffuser before going to sleep so you can take advantage of the healing benefits all night long.
For more acute situations, you can make a steam bath by pouring a cup of boiling water into a bowl, and then mix 10 drops of eucalyptus EO, place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for five–10 minutes.
2. Hair Nourishment
A few drops eucalyptus oil with some coconut or olive oil gives your hair a nice moisturizing pick-me-up. This is especially great to ward off dandruff and an itchy scalp. Also, eucalyptus is used as a natural remedy for lice in replacement of chemical treatments.
3. Hand Cleaner
Eucalyptus EO is an excellent cleanser to remove grease and grime from your workday and can rejuvenate sore hands and feet when mixed into your salt bath. Simply mix sea salt, epsom salt and eucalyptus oil to remove grease and dirt for good.
4. Sinus and Allergies
A study from NYU Medical School found that using eucalyptus was effective at treating sinusitis. Patients experienced faster improvement when supplementing with eucalyptus oil for allergies and sinus issues. The study had participants take eucalyptus oil internally, and it’s also recommended to gargle with it to clear the throat.
5. Natural Home Care
Not only does eucalyptus give a nice, fresh fragrance to your home products, but it adds vital anti-microbial properties as well. You can’t go wrong putting several drops into pretty much everything: soap, laundry detergent, mop water, toilet cleaner, window cleaner … the list goes on!
6. Odor Remover
Whether you’re battling smelly shoes or a stinky dog bed, topically wash items to remove odors with a wet rag soaked in eucalyptus oil-infused water, and place outside to dry in the sun. This can prevent odors as well as keep the shape intact! You may also mix it with lemon oil or tea tree oil for an anti-stink spray.
7. Air Cleanser
Try putting a few drops into your vacuum and clothes dryer filters to freshen them up and sanitize them a little. Also, it’s great for killing mold in your home, and you can mix eucalyptus with other oils like clove and tea tree oil to cleanse the air and maintain a mold-free home.
8. Spot Remover
Like lemon essential oil, eucalyptus oil is highly effective at removing spots on your carpet, clothes and basically every fabric you have in the house. It even works to get gum off your shoes! Make sure to “test” it on an inconspicuous place first just to make sure the oil doesn’t react strangely with the material you treat. You just don’t know what’s in the synthetic materials nowadays!
9. Respiratory Problems
Eucalyptus essential oil is highly effective for treating respiratory problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia and even tuberculosis. Using eucalyptus for asthma is a proven treatment that dilates the blood vessels and allows more oxygen into the lungs. Simply mix eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil and coconut oil for a Homemade Vapor Rub, and put on upper chest.
10. Wound Treatment
Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that are effective at treating wounds, burns, cuts, abrasions, sores and scrapes. It also can be made into a salve or healing ointment and put on bug bites and stings. Along with acting as a natural pain reliever to the area, it also keeps the area from getting infected, which speeds healing.
The list goes on, but don’t forget to use eucalyptus on your pets! It’s proven to be safe in pretty much any way that you would use it on yourself. Just be sure to keep it out of eyes and any open wounds!
Eucalyptus Oil Benefits
Eucalyptus oil benefits are due to its ability to stimulate immunity, provide antioxidant protection and improve respiratory circulation.
Originally referred to as “eucalyptol” by the scientific community, the health benefits of eucalyptus oil come from a chemical now known as cineole — an organic compound shown to hold astounding, widespread medicinal effects, including everything from reducing inflammation and pain to killing leukemia cells!
At the time I wrote this article, over 1,200 scientific research studies were conducted referring to cineole, and the results are simply amazing.
Although eucalyptus has the highest known cineole levels of any plant (up to 80–95 percent), scientists have discovered that several other plants have significant levels of cineole as well:
This may be one of the reasons why a mixture of the essential oils extracted from these plants have such a powerful synergistic effect. Like most things in nature, the harmonious effects of multiple healing agents working together create astounding super remedies.
Eucalyptus Studies and Research
Some of the most exciting eucalyptus oil research out today shows that it can help prevent drug-resistant bacterial infections like tuberculosis (TB). As more strains of TB continue to evolve defenses against the drug protocols traditionally used, a major public health concern has risen to the forefront — especially for regions like Africa, which are still highly affected by HIV/AIDS.
One study, published in the Journal of Natural Products this past March, set out to evaluate how utilizing Eucalyptus citriodora essential oil fared against the inhaling drug-resistant TB (MDR/XDR-TB). In addition to discovering 32 active anti-TB compounds in E citriodora, it observed the way that multiple components interacted with each other and discovered that certain combinations literally inhibited airborne TB by over 90 percent!
Other studies evaluating the benefits of inhaling eucalyptus show similarly amazing results due to its powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
A researcher out of Bonn University Hospital in Germany published an article in the journal Drug Research this past May highlighting how the cineole commonly found in eucalyptus essential oil is actually an effective long-term therapy to help control COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) symptoms and improve asthma.
Eucalyptus benefits even include lowering high blood pressure! French researchers tested eucalyptus oils’ ability to relax rat aortas and found it quite effective.
As you can see, eucalyptus oil uses and benefits are incredible. This is an essential oil to keep stocked in your natural first aid kit or home medicine cabinet.
To learn more about how to use essential oils, check out this free in-depth essential oils guide.
How about you? What are YOUR favorite eucalyptus essential oil uses?
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Sources & References:
- Ramos Alvarenga RF, et al. Airborne antituberculosis activity of Eucalyptus citriodora essential oil. J Nat Prod. 2014 Mar 28;77(3):603-10.
- Juergens UR. Anti-inflammatory properties of monoterpene 1.8-cineole: Current evidence for co-medication in inflammatory airway disease. Drug Res 2014.
- Yvon Y, et al. Relation between chemical composition or antioxidant activity and antihypertensive activity for six essential oils. J Food Sci. 2012 Aug;77(8):H184-91.