Eucalyptus, Blue Gum
Eucalyptus globulus Labill.
Common names: Blue gum, blue mallee, eucalyptus, Tasmanian blue gum
Scientific name: Eucalyptus globulus Labill.
Botanical family: Myrtaceae
Conservation status: Least concern
We often think of Australia as the place where most of our Eucalyptus oils come from, however, the cost of producing eucalyptus oil in Australia increased so much that it could not compete with overseas oil markets, and thus lost its leading position in the world market. Currently, the leading producers are China, Portugal, Spain and Southern Africa. (FOA, 1995)
Botany and Historical Information
Description: Eucalyptus globulus, also known as the southern blue gum, is a large evergreen tree in the Myrtaceae family native to Tasmania. This tree varies in size from 20 meters to 70-80 meters tall. The lower bark is rough and greyish/brownish, the upper bark is smooth, pale with a bluish or yellowish tinge, and peels into long strips. The tree has a single trunk with many branches. In harsh, exposed sites, E. globulus grows as a many-stemmed shrub.
Southern blue gum is found in Tasmania, southern Victoria, and is invasive in California and Hawaii. The tree thrives in regions with a Mediterranean climate marked by warm dry summers and cool wet winters. In California, the Tasmanian blue gum prefers disturbed areas, hillsides, and coasts below altitudes of 300 meters.
Ethnobotany: Tasmanian blue gum is commonly planted as a hedge or screen, and as an ornamental in parks and gardens. The wood is used in paper manufacture, and plantation-grown trees are used for pulpwood. The essential oil, derived from the leaves and shoots, is used medicinally, in perfumery, and in insect repellents.
E. globulus has been valued in traditional medicine for its antiseptic and antimalarial properties. The oil was used as a stimulant and antiseptic gargle, and an emulsion of the oil and powdered gum-arabic in water has been taken internally for pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchitis, and other infectious diseases of the lungs.
Country of Origin: Australia, South Africa
Part of Plant used: Leaves and mature branches
Extraction method: Distillation
Oil yield: 1-3%
Color of Oil: Pale yellow to clear
Odor Description: Strong, camphor like, balsamic, fresh
Blending Factor: 1 to 5
Note: Top note
- Caution for children: Avoid application of 1,8 cineole-rich essential oils to the face or near the nose of infants and children under age of 5. Do not instill 1,8 cineole-rich essential oils into the nose of infants or children. Use low dilutions (less then 1%).
- Internal contraindication: Essential oils rich in 1,8 cineole should not be used with infants or young children via the internal route (oral, rectal suppositories, etc.)
- Keep essential oil out of reach of children.
Chemical Feature: Rich in the oxide 1,8 cineole syn eucalyptol and monoterpenes
Research on 1,8 Cineole and Eucalyptus
1,8 cineole has exhibited the following activity:
- anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activity (inhibit peripherally and centrally mediated nociception),spasmolytic activity
- reduces bacterial induced mucus-production (ex vivo study on human nasal slices), beneficial in the treatment of rhinosinusitis
- enhances blood circulation
- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant , and anti-infective activity (indicated for inflammatory conditions of the lungs)
- bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity**
- hepatoprotective activity
- inhibits acetylcholinesterase
- myorelaxant activity, specifically for airway passages.
**Note: A bacteriostatic agent is a biological or chemical agent that stops bacteria from reproducing, while not necessarily harming them otherwise. A bactericidal, on the other hand, actually kills the bacteria.
• 1,8 cineole reduces exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In a placebo-controlled double-blind trial 242 patients were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups with one group receiving capsules containing 100 mg of cineole and the other with capsules containing no active ingredient (placebo). Patients were prescribed 2 capsules a day 3 times a day, taken 1/2 hour prior to meal. The cineole group received a total of 600 mg per day of cineole and no cineole for the placebo group. The primary goal of the study was to explore the potential of utilizing cineole to reduce the number, severity and duration of exacerbations in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Secondary outcome measures included lung function, severity of dyspnea and quality of life. Patients were seen for evaluation once a month for 6 months.
The results of the study showed that patients in the cineole group experienced significantly less exacerbations, in frequency, durations and severity. Patients in the cineole group experienced improved air flow, reduced severity of dyspnea and improved health status. The researchers concluded that cineole is beneficial in the treatment of symptomatic patients with COPD.
• 1,8 cineole exhibits anti-inflammatory activity beneficial in the treatment of asthma.
In another randomized, placebo-controlled study published in Respiratory Medicine journal, researchers set out to evaluate the clinical relevancy of the anti-inflammatory activity and efficacy of cineole in patients diagnosed with bronchial asthma. The study involved 32 patients randomly divided into two groups: the cineole group and the placebo group. The cineole group received small gut-soluble capsules containing 200 mg of cineole each, which they took 3 times a day. The placebo group took 3 capsules a day using capsules filled with no active ingredient. Study visits took place at 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks. Cineol was well tolerated with only two in the cineole group reporting gastritis and heart burn. Reduction of concomitant medication, oral steroids, dosage was experienced by 36% of cineole group. The researchers concluded that cineole has a potential future for long term therapeutic application in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
• 1,8 cineole offers an effective treatment for nonpurulent (no pus) rhinosinusitis.
A 2009 study published in the Laryngoscope journal used a placebo-controlled double-blind study designed to evaluate the efficacy of cineole in the treatment of non-purulent rhinosinusitis. The study involved 152 patients randomly divided into two treatment groups. One group received capsules containing 100 mg of cineole and the other received group received capsules with no active ingredient (placebo). Each group was instructed to take one capsule twice a day over a 7-day period. The cineole group received a total of 200 mg of cineole per day. The researchers observed significant differences on day 4 and day 7 of the study.
The results including amelioration headache on bending, frontal headache, sensitivity of pressure points of trigeminal nerve, impairment of general condition, nasal obstruction, and rhinological secretion. Mild side effects, possibly associated with medication, were observed in two patients as heartburn and exanthema after treatment with cineole.
• Cineole effective for the treatment of acute bronchitis and exhibits antitussive activity.
The goal of this double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study was to investigate the potential of cineole in treating acute bronchitis. 240 patients completed the study. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups, the cineole group and the placebo group. The cineole group received capsules containing 200 mg of cineole and the placebo group received capsules with no active ingredient. Patients were instructed to take 1 capsule, three times a day, 1/2 hour before a meal. The cineole group received 600 mg of cineole per day. The study found that cineole was effective as an antitussive agent and therefore able to also reduce information and support mucociliary clearance in patients with acute bronchitis.
According to the German Commission E report:
The Commission E reported secretomotory, expectorant, mildly antispasmodic, and mild local hyperemic activity for cineole rich Eucalyptus species. In Germany, eucalyptus leaf is licensed as a standard medicinal tea, used for bronchitis and inflammation of the throat. In the United States, it is used mainly as a component of decongestant compounds, available in galenical dosage forms including aqueous infusion, alcoholic fluid extract or tincture, inhalants, essential oil, and native extract in solid dosage forms. In both the United States and Germany, eucalyptus oil is used extensively as an expectorant component of cough and cold compounds in various oral dosage forms, including lozenges and syrups, and as an inhalant in vapor baths.
The Commission E approved the internal use of eucalyptus oil for catarrhs of the respiratory tract and its external use for rheumatic complaints.
Interactions with Other Drugs
The Commission E notes that eucalyptus oil induces the enzyme system of the liver involved in the detoxification process. Therefore, the effects of other drugs can be weakened and/or shortened when taken internally.
Dilution and Dosage:
Essential oil: Several drops rubbed into the skin. (This may be diluted at 30 ml essential oil to 500 ml of a suitable carrier such as vegetable oil.)
Ointment: Semi-solid preparation containing 5-20% essential oil (in a base of paraffin, petroleum jelly, or vegetable oil) for local application. (Salve)
Tincture: Aqueous-alcoholic preparation containing 5-10% essential oil for local application.
Inhalant: Add a few (2-5) drops of essential oil to hot water or to a vaporizer; deeply inhale the steam vapor.
The German Commission E report information was obtained from here.
Analgesic (Silva et al., 2003), antibacterial (Ghalem and Mohamed, 2008), anti-inflammatory (Silva et al. 2003), antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, antiviral, balsamic, decongestant, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, insecticide, rubefacient, stimulant, vermifuge, vulnerary
Core Aromatic Applications
Circulatory system: poor circulation (C+++)
Digestive system: Diarrhea (caused by viral infection), intestinal parasites, candidiasis/thrush (O+++)
Musculoskeletal system: muscular aches and pains, arthritis, rheumatism, plantar fasciitis, sprains (C+++)
Respiratory system: chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, rhino-pharyngitis, asthma, antiseptic qualities good for sore throat and infections, laryngitis, clears the head especially when used with rosemary and peppermint, nasal congestion, coughs, cold, flu, pertussis, thins bronchial sputum (O+++, SI+++, RS+, D+++, I+++)
Skin: herpes simplex , shingles, chickenpox, measles, acne, ulcers, wounds, mycotic infections, boils, burns, cuts (C+++)
Psyche and emotion: uplifting, refreshing, can have a “cooling” emotional effect, clears and stimulates the mind, aids concentration, good for exhaustion, balancing when there is an energy imbalance, purifying and cleansing to negative energies, especially after an argument (I+++, D+++, C+++)
Ayurveda: Useful for Kapha excess conditions presenting as mucus or lethargy. Eucalyptus globulus has a pungent rasa and vipaka. In moderate does it is cooling, but it is heating in large quantity. Pacifies vata and kapha, it primarily acts on the lungs and sinuses (decongesting and bronchodilator). Eucalyptus has a cooling effect on the surface of the skin, but is heating on the mucus lining.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Eucalyptus is unparalleled in its ability to clear Lung-Phlegm for TCM work and as a general tonic to Lung-Qi; is suited to the individual who feels emotionally “hemmed-in” or constricted by their surroundings and can help to provide “room to breathe”.
Sample Blends with Eucalyptus globulus:
1 ounce jojoba oil and 1 ounce of beeswax. Melt down beeswax in double boiler and slowly add in jojoba oil. Stir well. While this is heating and melting, prepare jars.
For each 25ml jar add: 10 drops Eucalyptus globulus, 4 drops Melaleuca alternifolia, 3 drops Citrus limon, 7 drops Mentha x piperita, and 10 drops Rosmarinus officinalis (either camphor or cineole chemotype).
Once the salve is completely melted add to jars. Cap quickly, shake and then set aside to harden. Once hardened, the salve is ready for use.
Eucalyptus muscle rub
- 1 ounce jojoba or other organic vegetable oil
- 14 drops Eucalyptus globulus
- 7 drops Mentha x piperita
- 12 drops Lavandula x intermedia
Combine all ingredients in glass container, shake well. Apply to muscular aches and pains as needed.
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