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Eucalyptus

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  • Botanical: Eucalyptus globulus
  • Family: Myrtaceae
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Eucalyptus

Botanical

Eucalyptus globulus

Family

Myrtaceae

Known as

Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus, Eukalyptus,

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

July to August

Parts Used

leaves, wood

Aroma

herbaceius, medicinal, woody

Medicinal

abscess, antiseptic, asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, colds, coughs, diabetes, diarrhea, fever, flu, hay fever, laxative, infections, muscle pain, mouth inflammation, pain relief, respiratory, sinusitis, throat inflammation, urinary infections, wounds, erysipelas, hay fever, throat infections, tonsillitis, open sores, pharyngitis

Hormone & Sexual Organs

pre-mestrual

Infection & Inflammation

fever, flu, infections, mouth inflammation, mouth sores, sinusitis, skin inflammation, throat infections, throat inflammation

Muscle & Joints

muscle pain

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, pain relief

Respiratory System

allergies, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, cough, emphysema, hay fever, nasal congestion, pharyngitis, respiratory, sore throat, throat infections, whooping cough

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bile weakness, diarrhea, flatulence

Skin & Hair

abscess, bruises, wounds

Properties

antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, anti inflammatory, deodorant, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant

Note

top

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

The bark sheds often, peeling in large strips. The broad juvenile leaves are borne in opposite pairs on square stems. They are about 6 to 15 cm long and covered with a blue-grey, waxy bloom, which is the origin of the common name "blue gum".

The mature leaves are narrow, sickle-shaped and dark shining green. They are arranged alternately on rounded stems and range from 15 to 35 cm in length.

The buds are top-shaped, ribbed and warty and have a flattened operculum (cap on the flower bud) bearing a central knob. The cream-colored flowers are borne singly in the leaf axils and produce copious nectar that yields a strongly flavored honey.

The fruits are woody and range from 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter. Numerous small seeds are shed through valves (numbering between 3 and 6 per fruit) which open on the top of the fruit. It produces roots throughout the soil profile, rooting several feet deep in some soils. They do not form taproots.

Properties & Uses

Eucalyptus leaves are a traditional Aboriginal herbal remedy. The essential oil found in the leaves is a powerful antiseptic and is used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections. The essential oil is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold remedies. The adult leaves, without their petioles, are antiperiodic, antiseptic, aromatic, deodorant, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic and stimulant. The leaves, and the essential oil they contain, are antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, febrifuge and stimulant. Extracts of the leaves have antibacterial activity. The essential oil obtained from various species of eucalyptus is a very powerful antiseptic, especially when it is old, because ozone is formed in it on exposure to air. It has a decided disinfectant action, destroying the lower forms of life. The oil can be used externally, applied to cuts, skin infections etc, it can also be inhaled for treating blocked nasal passages, it can be gargled for sore throat and can also be taken internally for a wide range of complaints. Some caution is advised, however, because like all essential oils, it can have a deleterious effect on the body in larger doses. The oil from this species has a somewhat disagreeable odour and so it is no longer used so frequently for medicinal purposes, other members of the genus being used instead. An oleo- resin is exuded from the tree. It can also be obtained from the tree by making incisions in the trunk. This resin contains tannin and is powerfully astringent, it is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and bladder inflammation, externally it is applied to cuts etc. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Respiratory system'. 

Other Uses

The leaves and the essential oil in them are used as an insect repellent. The trees can also be planted in wet areas where mosquitoes abound. The ground will be dried out by the trees, making it unsuitable for the mosquitoes to breed. A decoction of the leaves is used for repelling insects and vermin. Africans use finely powdered bark as an insect dust. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves. It is used in perfumery and in medicines. The yield is about 0.9% by steam distillation. The essential oil is also in spot removers for cleaning off oil and grease. Yields of 40 to 45 kilos of oil per hectare have been reported. A yellow/brown dye is obtained from the young leaves. It does not require a mordant. Grey and green dyes are obtained from the young shoots. A dark green dye is obtained from the young bark. Wood - heavy, (or light according to another report), durable, fire resistant. An important timber species, it is used for various purposes such as carpentry, construction, fences, piles, platforms, plywood, poles, sheds, tool handles and veneer. The oil-rich wood is resistant to termites. This is one of the best eucalypts for pulp production for making paper

Cautions

Citronellal, an essential oil found in most Eucalyptus species is reported to be mutagenic when used in isolation. In large doses, oil of eucalyptus, like so many essential oils has caused fatalities from intestinal irritation. Death is reported from ingestion of 4 - 24 ml of essential oils, but recoveries are also reported for the same amount. Symptoms include gastroenteric burning and irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, oxygen deficiency, ,weakness, dizziness, stupor, difficult respiration, delirium, paralysis, convulsions, and death, usually due to respiratory failure. The plant is reported to cause contact dermatitis. Sensitive persons may develop urticaria from handling the foliage and other parts of the plant. Avoid if on treatment for diabetes mellitus. Infants and small children - avoid oil preparations on faces as possible life threatening spasms.

Distribution

Australia - Tasmania, Victoria.

Constituents

The major volatile oil in eucalyptus leaf is eucalyptol, also known as 1,8-cineol. This compound is found in many other herbs in concentrations of 1 to 5%, but makes up about 70% of eucalyptus oil.