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Cajeput

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  • Botanical: Melaleuca leucadendra
  • Family: Myrtaceae
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Cajeput

Botanical

Melaleuca leucadendra

Family

Myrtaceae

Known as

Cajuput Tree, Cajeput, Silberbaum Myrtenheide, Kajeputbaum, Melaleukaöl, Cajeputbaum

Old Use

medicinal use

Parts Used

herb

Medicinal

antiseptic, bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs, cystitis, urinary infections, rapid pulse

Heart & Circulation

circulation, palpitations, rapid pulse

Infection & Inflammation

infections

Muscle & Joints

rheumatism

Respiratory System

bronchitis, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse

Stomach & Intestinal

urinary infections, worm

Properties

antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, parasiticide, stimulant

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

The tree has a long flexible trunk with irregular ascending branches, covered with a pale thick, lamellated bark it is soft and spongy and from time to time throws off its outer layer in flakes; leaves entire, linear, lanceolate, ash colour, alternate on short foot-stalks; flowers sessile, white, on a long spike.

The leaves have a very aromatic odour and the oil is distilled from the fresh leaves and twigs, and is volatile and stimulating with an aroma like camphor, rosemary, or cardamom seeds; taste bitter, aromatic and camphoraceous. Traces of copper have been found in it, hence the greenish tint; it should be stored in dark or amber-coloured bottles in a cool place. Cajuput oil is obtained from Melaleuca leucadendron, Roxburgh, and the minor Smith, but several other species of Melaleuca leucadendron are utilized such as M. hypericifolia, M. veridifolia, M. lalifolia, and others. The Australian species M. Decussata and M. Erucifolia are also used. The oil is fluid, clear, inflammable, burns without residue, highly volatile. The trace of copper found may be due to the vessels in which the oil is prepared, but it is doubtless sometimes added in commerce to produce the normal green tinge when other species have been used which do not impart it naturally.

Traditional Use

Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, stimulant, antiseptic, anthelmintic. Highly stimulant, producing a sensation of warmth when taken internally, increasing the fullness and rapidity of the pulse and sometimes producing profuse perspiration. Used as a stimulating expectorant in chronic laryngitis and bronchitis, as an antiseptic in cystisis and as an anthelmintic for round worms, also used in chronic rheumatism. Applied externally, it is stimulant and mildly counter-irritant and is usually applied diluted with 2 parts of olive oil or turpentine ointment. Used externally for psoriasis and other skin affections.

Cautions

There are very few reported adverse effects associated with cajeput. Nonetheless, use cautiously in patients with diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or high or low blood pressure. Leaves harvested from certain areas of the world may contain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals.

Distribution

Melaleuca leucadendra is widely distributed in northern parts of Australia (Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland) and is found even further north in the Solomon Islands and on New Guinea in Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea. It has also been used as a street tree in Hong Kong.

Constituents

The principal constituent of oil is cineol, which should average 45 to 55 per cent. Solid terpineol is also present and several aldehydes such as valeric, butyric and benzoic.