By Tracy Wright
Eucalyptus may be one of the most widely used herbal remedies, both commercially and by private consumers. The health benefits of the eucalyptus species are countless due to it strong aromatic oils within the leaves. The various uses of eucalyptus include its antibacterial properties to help fight some infections, pain relief, dental health and stimulating the immune system.
“Simply using a diffuser to breathe in eucalyptus oil can provide anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits,” said Cristina Eury of Salina Harmonizing Bodywork, an herbal healing house that focuses on, “allowing the strength of nature to increase your natural inner strength” according to Eury’s website. “In vapor therapy, the oil may be used for respiratory problems, to improve concentration, or as an insect repellant. It can also be diluted in your bath which can provide benefits against arthritis, asthma, mucous congestion, colds, headaches, sinusitis, fatigue and muscle aches and pains.”
As with most essential oils, experts caution against using eucalyptus in an undiluted form. Eucalyptus is best used in a diffuser or sparingly mixed with a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil. Additionally, you should never apply essential oils directly to skin, especially children under the age of 6, Eury said. Instead, you can mix the eucalyptus with a non-fragranced lotion (which provides more moisture benefits).
Furthermore, eucalyptus acts as a strong decongestant for the lungs and sinuses. Consumers can make their own home cold remedy to fight congestion and soothe common cold symptoms. “Often used as a steam inhalation therapy, the leaves of eucalyptus can be added to a large covered pot of simmered water,” said Jenny Perez, education coordinator at the American Botanical Council. “After gently covering the head with a thin towel to make a tent over the pot, remove the lid, keep eyes closed and inhale the antibacterial, antiviral scent of eucalyptus for a minute or two, being careful not to burn yourself or overheat.”
Eucalyptus is also commonly used for invigorating mental activity and increasing blood flow to the brain. As a stimulant, it has been shown to help remove exhaustion and mental sluggishness. Eucalyptus can also be effective in treating stress and mental disorders as inhaling its vapor helps to increase blood circulation to the brain. A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation showed that eucalyptus increases the blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels and allowing more blood to circulate.
While eucalyptus is a natural health remedy, individuals can still suffer poisoning or overdoses. Therefore, as with any form of herbal therapy, consumers should always consult with their health care provider, a licensed medical herbalist or aromatherapist if they have concerns about use, especially with children. Perez also recommends that those who are highly interested in herbal therapy read “21st Century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Nature’s Most Powerful Plants,” a book written by Michael Balick, Ph.D., a member of the American Botanical Council’s Board of Trustees members.
With the innumerable uses for eucalyptus, in raw leaf form and essential oil form, you should consider adding it to your health regiment, even if only to provide the stress relieving qualities of its aroma.
*Always consult your physician when beginning an essential oil regiment.