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Eucalyptus

  • Eucalyptus globulus L.
  • Myrtaceae
  • Myrtle family



Common Names

herbsBlue gum
herbsBlue gum tree
herbsFever tree


Parts Usually Used

Leaves


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A tall, aromatic evergreen tree of the myrtle family, chiefly native to Australia and Tasmania, bearing pendent leaves and umbels of white, red, or pink flowers and valued for the timber, gum and oil.

Among its various species, the blue gum is the one commonly grown in the United States, the trunk, which grows to 300 feet or more, is covered with peeling, papery bark. The leaves on the young plant, up to 5 years old, are opposite, sessile, soft, oblong, pointed, and a hoary blue color. The mature leaves are alternate, petioled, leathery, and shaped like a scimitar. The flowers are solitary, coarse, axillary, and white, with no petals, many white stamens, and a woody calyx. The fruit is a hard, four-celled, bluish, top-shaped, many-seeded capsule enclosed in the calyx cup.

Eucalyptus will only grow in warm climates, and does not tolerate frost.


Where Found

Found in California, Florida and parts of the south.


Medicinal Properties

Antiseptic, astringent, tonic, antispasmodic, deodorant, expectorant, stimulant, antibiotic, rubefacient, febrifuge


Biochemical Information

Essential oil with cineole, ellagic and gallic acid, bitter principle, resin, antibiotic properties, tannin, aldehydes, resin


Legends, Myths and Stories

Because it grows rapidly, it is used in Africa to drain malarial swamps. The common name given it there is fever tree; indicates that through its help in draining the swamps, the breeding grounds of the malarial (anopheles) mosquito are being eliminated and hence the fever (malaria) is becoming less common.

A traditional Aboriginal fever remedy, eucalyptus was introduced to the West in the 19th century by the director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, and cultivation of the tree spread in southern Europe and North America.

The properties of the oils from different species vary slightly, but all are very antiseptic. Russian research suggests that some species counteract flu viruses, while others are anti-malarial or highly active against bacteria.

The tallest known living eucalyptus tree is 322 ft. and was found in 1956 in the Styx Valley, Tasmania.


Uses

Most eucalyptus medications are made from the greenish-yellow oil obtained from the mature leaves. The oil, or lozenges and cough drops made from it, is useful for lung diseases, sore throat, gout, syphilis, gonorrhea, typhoid, varicose ulcers, worms, colds, croup, diphtheria, malaria, neuralgia, piles, and sore throat. It can be used as a vapor bath and inhaled for asthma and other respiratory ailments, and is an antiseptic bath addition. Its expectorant properties are useful for bronchitis. The oil is also said to be useful for pyorrhea and for burns, to prevent infection. A cold extract made from the leaves is helpful for indigestion and for intermittent fever. Externally, the antiseptic and deodorant qualities of the oil make it suitable for use on purulent (pus filled) wounds, sores, boils, and ulcers. Rubbed on the skin, oil of eucalyptus gives relief from the pain of arthritis, and rheumatism, it increases blood flow to the area, producing a feeling of warmth. The oil is commonly used in steam inhalation for colds and flu, a few whiffs is often all it takes to clear a stuffy nose and a foggy head.

Used as a chest rub, as an ointment, it relieves congestion of the lungs. The steam inhaled for the same purpose. One tsp. of the oil in 1/2 pint of warm water, rubbed into the skin, is a powerful insect repellent for man or animals. Dried, finely powdered leaves are used as an insecticide.


Formulas or Dosages

Oil: boil mature leaves in water and condense the vapor to recover the oil.

Emulsion: made by combining equal parts of the oil with powdered slippery elm or gum arabic and water. After being well shaken, the mixture is taken internally in tsp. doses for tuberculosis and other infections and inflammations of the lungs. Rubbed on aching muscles or trauma sites to stimulate circulation and relieve pain and blood congestion.

A simple external ointment or balm is made by mixing the oil with heated paraffin and sufficient melted bee's wax to harden to the desired consistency. The ointment may be applied freely as needed.

For local application to sores, injuries and ulcers, mix 1 oz. oil in 1 pint of lukewarm water and apply.


How Sold

The number of ready-made preparations that contain eucalyptus oil is enormous. Every kind of product is represented, from pure oil through oil-containing ointments and rubs, cough drops, salves, to candles and syrups.

Oil: put 1 to 5 drops in a vaporizer.

Liniment: use as needed.


Warning

Eucalyptus oil should be used only infrequently since it is difficult to eliminate through the kidneys. Side effects from the tea or from any of the commercial preparations are extremely rare when directions of dosage is followed.

With an overdose (this applies to all essential oils), muscular weakness, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea have been noted. Very few people have developed an allergy to eucalyptus oil.

Do not use on broken or irritated skin. Do not use internally.

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