2 December 2021 / Caitlin Devlin
Eucalyptus Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits
Eucalyptus is incredibly versatile, good for pain, congestion, and skin irritations.
Native to Australia, Tasmania and nearby islands, the eucalyptus plant was first adopted as a traditional medicine by the Australian Aboriginals.
In traditional aboriginal medicine, an infusion of the eucalyptus leaves was used to treat pain, sinus congestion, and coughs. These days eucalyptus is still a popular solution to congestion, but a lot of its other traditional uses seem to go under the radar. Eucalyptol, the constituent that accounts for 70-90% of the contents of eucalyptus oil, has been suggested to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving effects by a number of studies, characteristics which make eucalyptus among the most versatile of the essential oils.
Eucalyptus is grown all over the world. The main species of the plant is called Eucalyptus globulus, however the oil produced by this species can vary quite significantly in scent depending on where in the world the plant is grown. Despite this difference in scent, all oils with the botanical name Eucalyptus globulus will have near identical benefits.
Eucalyptus oil improves respiratory conditions.
Eucalyptus is perhaps most famous for its expectorant properties. It helps to get mucus moving through the airways, relieving congestion and cleansing your body of the responsible microorganisms. For this reason, many people inhale eucalyptus as a way of relieving cold and flu symptoms and enabling easy breathing.
There has been a fair amount of evidence to suggest that eucalyptus is effective against bronchitis in particular – a 2004 study found that eucalyptus helps to reduce the inflammatory effect of chronic bronchitis and inhibit the hypersecretion of airway mucins, preventing the blockage of airways and make breathing easier, and a study in 2013 found that one of the main components in the oil, cineole, improved cough symptoms in bronchitis sufferers.
Eucalyptus is used in households to treat a wide range of other respiratory conditions as well, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sinusitis.
It fights infections.
Eucalyptol has been shown to have antimicrobial effects, which makes eucalyptus oil a great choice for natural cleaning products. It has been shown to be effective against a number of bacteria, and a study in 2012 found that it can even fight effectively against staph and E.coli.
Eucalyptus oil has been used for its anti-fungal properties as well, with some people seeing a positive effect when applying a diluted substance to candida and toenail fungus.
It can help manage pain and inflammation.
Because of the anti-inflammatory properties in eucalyptol, eucalyptus oil can help to reduce swelling around injuries and manage muscle pain. A 2013 study of patients who had just undergone total knee replacement surgery found that eucalyptus oil was effective in reducing pain and inflammation around the affected area.
Eucalyptus is also effective against headache and earache, mostly because its expectorant properties can help to alleviate sinus pressure, although some people have found that it can also help to relax tense facial muscles which can help if you are suffering from a headache caused by stress or exhaustion.
It repels rats.
There is even some evidence to suggest that eucalyptus can be involved in pest control. A 2014 study found that when certain areas of a lab cage were sprayed with eucalyptus oil, the rats no longer consumed food in that area. Spraying areas of a house with eucalyptus oil may help to protect that area from house rats.
Eucalyptus oil’s wide range of uses outside of its well-documented expectorant properties are still being explored in research, but it has already established itself as a household favourite. Its powerful, distinctive aroma makes it a great choice for aromatherapy, and since its origins in Aboriginal medicine it is now used all around the world.
Shop our eucalyptus essential oil here.