Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
Eucalyptus comes from the eucalyptus tree, native to Australia, but is now grown in many places all over the world. It's the oil, derived from the crushed leaves of the tree, that has made its mark as nature's medicine. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have been used over the centuries for cosmetic and dental use, to ward off insects, and to treat a wide range of respiratory problems.
Traditional uses of eucalyptus
With origins in Australia, eucalyptus has widely been used for centuries in Aborigine medicine. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, Aborigines used the oil to combat fungal and skin infections, and to reduce fevers. It's not just Australia that has made good use of eucalyptus oil for medicinal purposes. It has long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, and even in England it was used to clean urinary catheters in hospitals in the 19th century. More recently, almost 70 years ago, eucalyptus oil was officially registered in America as an insect repellent.
Promote good dental health
Eucalyptus oil is commonly added to toothpastes and mouthwashes, and for good reason. It's not just the clean, refreshing aroma of the oil that makes it suitable for dental products, but it contains antibacterial properties that are believed to fight dental decay. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology states that the oil is effective at eliminating the build-up of plaque and can kill bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. The oil also contains an antiseptic, known as cineole, which tackles bad breath and bleeding gums.
Improve respiratory health
Arguably one of the best-known health benefits of eucalyptus oil is in treating a wide range of respiratory conditions, such as coughs and colds, and even relieving the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis. According to a study reported in Clinical Microbiology & Infection, it's the antibacterial properties of the oil that have the power to zap bacteria responsible for many respiratory infections. It's also a powerful decongestant, and many people inhale steam infused with vapours from the oil to relieve a blocked-up nose.
Provide pain relief
Eucalyptus oil has been found to be effective at relieving pain when applied to specific areas, such as the joints or temples on the head. The oil contains analgesic properties that are associated with pain relief, but it also has a very cooling effect when applied to the skin, which can help to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and relax the muscles. A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation also backs up this theory, based on research undertaken.
Enhance the immune system
Research published in BMC Immunology claims that eucalyptus oil boasts powerful properties to enhance the immune system. When applied to the skin, the oil can stimulate and strengthen immune cells, helping to provide a protective function against infections.
Treat skin infections
Eucalyptus oil has been used for centuries to treat skin infections, and according to a study reported by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, many cultures have long used the oil to heal wounds, reduce inflammation and treat skin infections, such as cold sores. There are various compounds in the oil that give it super-strong antiseptic and antibacterial qualities, including cineole, citronellol and citronellal, and it's these that are responsible for fighting infections.
If you're looking for an insect repellent that is natural and effective, eucalyptus oil has been shown to work incredibly well. It's particularly useful for anyone who is allergic to the ingredients used in many supermarket insect repellent products. As well as applying the oil to your skin mixed with a little body lotion, you can add it to a vaporiser to release the aromas that biting insects particularly take a dislike to.
Research into the effects of eucalyptus oil on reducing symptoms of diabetes is still very much ongoing, but it seems that the oil may play a role in helping to lower blood sugar levels. Researchers are still not sure how this works, but if this becomes more apparent, it could pave the way for offering a new way to treat this debilitating condition.