Eucalyptus, known as Australia’s miracle plant, has grown in popularity due to its many health benefits such as helping clear sinus congestion, reduce coughing, warding off insects, disinfecting wounds, controlling blood sugar, and even easing arthritis and other painful ailments. Let’s take a closer look at this miraculously healing agent!
Welcome to the Eucalyptus Tree
The term eucalyptus actually refers to a “diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs … in the myrtle family Myrtaceae.” While there are 700 species of eucalyptus ranging from Australia to Indonesia and even as far as the Philippines, the most well-known of the eucalyptus genus is a tree called the eucalyptus regnans. This tree, known in the states simply as the eucalyptus tree, also happens to be “the tallest known flowering plant on Earth.” In fact, Australia is covered with 227,336,951 acres of this eucalyptus tree, “comprising three-quarters of the area covered by native forest.”
Yet, all species of eucalyptus are unique and beautiful in their own way. Have you heard of a gum tree? This is another variety of eucalyptus tree. It gets this name from the copious amounts of kino — a botanical gum — that is expelled “from any break in the bark.” How about the rainbow eucalyptus tree? This variety is “indigenous to islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans … can grow up to 200 feet tall,” and they have “naturally flaky bark with layers of amazing rainbow colors.”
Even though Eucalyptus trees are indigenous to Australia, many countries around the world are now cultivating them including “the Americas, Europa, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China, and the Indian subcontinent.”
Why are so many places around the world cultivating the eucalyptus? For one, they are beautiful and tall, which makes them great for landscaping properties with privacy, plus they have many desirable traits including useful wood and medicinal oil.
What is Eucalyptus Oil?
When it comes to eucalyptus oil, the sky is truly the limit for its diverse uses. Across the world this aromatic oil is used for cleaning, as a natural insecticide, as a fragrance, and has been shown to have allelopathic effects, meaning they “release compounds which inhibit other plant species from growing nearby.” This makes them great for reforestation.
Eucalyptus oil is made from “leaves of selected eucalyptus tree species … [belonging] to the plant family Myrtaceae,” mentioned earlier. The oil is prized for its “ability to fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections,” as well as its ability to relieve pain due to a host of antioxidant-rich “chemical compounds such as terpinene, cymene, and phellandrene.”
Healing Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil
Research conducted on eucalyptus oil has “found that its ‘broad-spectrum antimicrobial action make it an attractive alternative to pharmaceuticals.’” Not only does eucalyptus have a pleasing fragrance, but it has a powerful ability to “stimulate immunity, provide antioxidant protection, and improve respiratory circulation.” This combination has shown it to be a great anti-inflammatory agent and has been used as an analgesic agent which aids in pain reduction.
Aids Respiratory Issues
If there are two things eucalyptus is known to help, it’s pain and respiratory conditions. Eucalyptus oil “helps to stimulate your immune system, [provides] antioxidant protection and [improves] your respiratory circulation.” Along with the common cold, eucalyptus oil has used to treat “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis,” and the flu.
Reduces Allergy Symptoms
Every spring I’m torn between excitement for warm weather and beautiful fauna and dread because I know my allergies are going to make a mess of my nose and eyes. Luckily, this year I’ve got eucalyptus oil to help me through it! That’s right, this diverse essential oil is also incredibly effective at fighting off seasonal allergy symptoms.
Specifically, there are two components in eucalyptus oil called “eucalyptol and citronellal [that] have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, which is why the oil is often used to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.” Eucalyptol is a naturally occurring compound found not only in eucalyptus, but also in tea tree, sweet basil, and even bay leaves. It has been used medicinally to treat coughs and as a component in body powder. Citronellal is the natural compound in eucalyptus oil that makes it a perfect insect repellent! Along with repelling pesky mosquitos, citronellal also has powerful antifungal properties.
One of my all-time favorite uses of eucalyptus oil is for headaches. I’m prone to migraines, yet I can’t take ibuprofen-based medicines for the pain. Enter eucalyptus! As mentioned earlier, this essential oil has powerful agents that help relieve pain. It is reported that eucalyptus helps “reduce swelling, clear nasal congestion, and relieve pain.”
To compound these headache-relieving effects eucalyptus oil also has “invigorating properties that can boost mental clarity and promote relaxation of tense facial muscles,” which comes in handy for stress, exhaustion, or anxiety caused headaches. If you want to boost the effects, it’s recommended to combine eucalyptus oil with “peppermint oil and a carrier.”
We’ve talked a lot about eucalyptus oil as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory agent, yet one of the lesser-known health benefits happens to be clarity of mind.
Ever hear of or suffered from brain fog? I usually run into it around one in the afternoon, when my morning caffeine has officially worn off. Instead of going for another cup of joe, try eucalyptus oil! As mentioned before, eucalyptus oil has invigorating effects, yet it also has “soothing and purifying properties, which is why it can be used to boost energy and mental clarity.” How does it accomplish this feat? This oil has been shown to help “clear your airways [and] allow more oxygen into your lungs,” which lifts that foggy afternoon vail.
How to use Eucalyptus Oil
Now that we know the benefits, it’s important to learn how to use eucalyptus oil the right way. For instance, eucalyptus essential oil is incredibly potent and must be diluted before applying to your skin or ingested. On the other hand, a few drops of the undiluted version in your water-based diffuser works just fine.
Before beginning any new essential oil regime, make sure to speak with your doctor first!
DIY Insect Repellent
One of the more popular uses of eucalyptus oil is in natural insect repellents. Some store-bought insect repellents use a toxic chemical called DEET. Most likely, you’ve heard this term before due to the highly controversial use of the chemical in many other items such as “towelettes, lotions, creams and gels.” Even though DEET is not banned, a “2009 study found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for the nervous system to function properly.”
So, making your own natural insect repellent is a great way to avoid this toxic chemical, while also avoiding nasty bugs. This DIY Natural Insect Repellent provided by Koko Brill of One Green Planet uses the powerful anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of witch hazel with distilled water and between 30 to 60 drops of the essential oil of your choice, such as eucalyptus oil. Another great DIY option is this All Natural Bug Spray provided by Jen West of One Green Planet, which uses an array of essential oils along with witch hazel and water. For an extra bug protectant step, substitute or add eucalyptus into this one!
If you haven’t tried out essential oil-based beauty products, then I’d highly recommend it!
There are hundreds of oils to experiment with, all of which have different benefits. Eucalyptus oil is a wonderful agent for healthy, glowing skin! Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, eucalyptus oil has been found to be a great natural remedy for skin irritants and is used in many skin care products such as this Organic All Natural Jubilee Cleansing Oil or this Aveda Aroma Oil.
With that said, there are a host of DIY beauty products which you can tailor to your own needs including substituting eucalyptus for another essential oil.
One of the best ways to use essential oils at home is in a diffuser. If you haven’t heard of aromatherapy diffusion, it basically is referring to “any method or device that disperses aromatic molecules into the air.” A diffuser is one of the “methods or devices” in which this can be accomplished. Along with the individual health benefits that individual essential oils provide, diffusing has been shown to “help battle unwanted germs, alleviate insomnia, and even boost concentration.” Plus, you can easily purchase affordable diffusers, such as this VicTsing multi-purpose humidifier and aroma essential oil diffuser or this dual diffuser-nightlight Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser.
Looking to find more ways to use essential oils, including eucalyptus oil? We highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!