Eucalyptus, Blue Gum
Eucalyptus globulus Labill.
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)
Botanical Family: Myrtaceae
Common names: Blue gum Eucalyptus, Australian fever tree leaf, fever tree leaf, Tasmanian blue gum leaf
Botany and Historical Information
Botany: Eucalyptus globulus is a medium-sized evergreen woodland tree that can grow up to 60m. It is native to Australia. Mature woodland trees usually have extensive roots that are frequently deeply penetrating, but in plantations the roots are often more shallow. There is usually a single trunk, much branched. The lower bark is rough, grayish or brownish, the upper bark smooth, pale, and often with a bluish tinge, decorticating in long strips. The mature leaves are dark glossy green and firm. It bears fragrant white flowers as it matures.
History and Myth: Eucalyptus species have a history of traditional use by the Australian aboriginal people who refer to it as ‘malee’. The genus name Eucalyptus comes from Greek eukalyptos, meaning ‘well-covered’, and refers to its flowers that, in bud, are covered with a cup-like membrane that is thrown off when the flower expands. Eucalyptus has been integrated into traditional medicine systems of the Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic, and Greco-European.
It is utilized for its counter-irritant and expectorating activity in India and for its ability to relieve nerve pain in China. The present Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia indicates its topical application for headache due to colds. Eucalyptus oil is used extensively in the United States and Germany 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.
CAS #: 8000-48-4 (TSCA) and 84625-32-1 (EINECS)
EINECS No: 283-406-2
FEMA #: 2466
GRAS Status: yes
INCI Name: Eucalyptus globulus oil
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
- May antidote homeopathic remedies, generally safe to use
- Avoid applying near the nostrils of infants due to risk of spasm of the glottis, due to the cooling effect on the respiratory system, use Eucalyptus smithii or E. radiata with children
- Keep essential oil out of reach of children. Ingestion of the oil is toxic and can affect the central nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. (Blumenthal, et al 1996)
Chemical Feature: Rich in the oxide 1,8 cineole syn eucalyptol and monoterpenes
Research on 1,8 Cineole and Eucalyptus
- 1,8 cineole syn. eucalyptol or cajeputol is an oxide and an ether. The name 1,8 refers to the fact that the oxygen atom is bonded to the first and eighth carbon atoms. 1,8 cineole is found in high concentrations in such essential oils as: Eucalyptus species, Laurus nobilis, Lavandula latifolia, Melaleuca quinquenervia, Myrtus communis, Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole and Elettaria cardamomum.
- 1,8 cineole possesses noted antiviral activity, antitussive effects (relieves coughs), bronchodilator effects (help open the bronchial tubes (airways) of the lungs, allowing more air to flow through them), mucolytic and mucociliary effects (mucolytics break down or dissolve mucus and thus facilitate the easier removal of these secretions from the respiratory tract by the ciliated epithelium, a process known as mucociliary clearance) and anti-inflammatory activity. 1,8 cineole also has positive effects on lung function parameters whether for the common cold or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (Harris, 2007)
- 1,8 cineole has been used in traditional medicine as a secretolytic remedy for bronchitis, sinusitis, and colds. (Juergens, et al. 2003)
- 1,8 cineole acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. (Bastos, et al. 2010 and Juergens, et al 2003)
- 1,8 cineole has clinically relevant anti-inflammatory activity in the treatment of bronchial asthma. This study had patients receiving 200mg t.i.d. orally. (Juergens, et al. 2003)
- Concomitant therapy with 1,8 cineole reduces exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In a placebo-controlled double-blind trial, patients receiving 200mg of cineole internally 3 times a day experienced a reduced frequency, duration and severity of exacerbatioins associated with COPD. Secondary outcomes included: improved lung function, reduced dyspnea (shortness of breath) and increased quality of life. (Worth, et al. 2009)
- 1,8 cineole showed bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity. (Sokovic, et al.) **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.
- Eucalyptus globulus has growth inhibiting activity against bacterial strains which have been isolated from respiratory infections such as: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, S. pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, H. parainfluenzae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. (Cermelli, et al. 2008)
- Eucalyptol oil used in respiratory diseases has strong bactericidal activity and also anti-inflammatory, expectorant and stimulating secretions of bronchial challenge properties. (Sienkiewicz, et al. 2011)
- Eucalyptus essential oil, due to its highly antibacterial activity, is used in combination with tea tree and grapefruit essential oils to treat the malodor of necrotic ulcers. (Warnke et al. 2004)
- Eucalyptus oil is thought to increase the motility of the ciliated epithelium in the bronchia, thus explaining the expectorant effect of this oil. (Grassmann and Elstner, 2003)
- Eucalyptus globulus is able to implement the innate cell-mediated immune response and may serve as a new class of immuno-regulatory agents useful as adjuvant in immuno-suppressive pathologies, in infectious disease as well as in tumor chemotherapy. (Serafino, et al. 2008)
- Eucalyptus citriodora and Eucalyptus globulus demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. (Silva, et al. 2003)
- Eucalyptus globulus leaves taken internally showed a considerable inhibitory effect on the growth of Candia albicans in both normal and diabetic rats. (Bokaeian, et al. 2010)
- Eucalyptus globulus essential oil showed anti-candidal activity and inhibited filamentation of these fungi. (Noumi, et al. 2010)
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.
Dosage and Administration
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
Cooling, stimulating, clearing, antibacterial, expectorant
Core Aromatic Applications
Circulatory system: stimulating, good support oil for the stimulating properties of black pepper or juniper, can support detoxification programs
Digestive system: Diarrhea (caused by viral infection), intestinal parasites, candida albicans
Musculoskeletal system: muscular aches and pains, arthritis, rheumatism, plantar fasciitis, sprains
Respiratory system: chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, 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
Skin: herpes simplex (Schnitzler at al, 2001), shingles, chickenpox, measles, acne, ulcers, wounds, boils, burns, cuts
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
Subtle/energetic aromatherapy: can be used as an emotional and energy balancer and is useful for individuals who lack concentration or have cluttered or irrational thoughts
Ayurveda: Useful for Kapha excess conditions presenting as mucus or lethargy. Cooling and light. According to Lad and Durve (2008), ‘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: 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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