Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Native to Australia, the eucalyptus group of trees and shrubs have spread to Africa, India and the Americas. One species of the tree is the tallest tree species in the world, surpassing the California Redwood and growing to a height of 480 feet. Related to myrtles, these trees have leaves with oil glands from which oil is distilled. Only a very few of the many tree species have the specialized oil that is used medicinally. Most trees of this species are evergreen, though some tropical species will drop their leaves.
Key Medicinal Uses
Eucalyptus oil is aromatic, antiseptic and stimulating. It is used as a disinfectant and has some anti-malarial qualities. It is a cardiac stimulant, so should be used with care.
Internally Eucalyptus is toxic when taken internally, although in the past some have done so in very small amounts. It is best to only use the oil externally or in a vaporizer as an inhalant for congestion. Commercial cough drops that contain eucalyptus are generally safe unless allergic reaction has been shown to the herb. It is also added to some mouth washes.
Externally It can be applied to skin in an ointment or in a spray for various skin ailments and tick repellent.
Other Uses Other species of eucalyptus are used for various purposes. The oils are separated into medicinal oils, industrial oils and aromatic oils. They are used in soap making, perfume making and flotation purposes.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Do not combine with coltsfoot, borage, comfrey or houndstooth, as eucalyptus can worsen the side effects of these herbs.
Leaves The oil is distilled from the leaves.
Essential oil should be diluted in a carrier oil to prevent skin reactions with the pure oil. Taking eucalyptus internally can result in allergic reactions, toxicity and even death. Symptoms of poisoning can include nervous system and brain activity slowing down, seizures, coma, drowsiness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, constricted pupils, fever, difficulty walking, slurred speech, headache, convulsions, delirium, wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing, and blue discoloration of the skin. People who have shown reactions to this herb should avoid it at all costs.
It may also interact with prescription medications. This herb should be avoided by children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Preparation and Dosage
A drop or two of eucalyptus tincture or essential oil can be placed in a vaporizer to help with congestion.
It can also be found in commercial cough drops and mouth wash. Use these products only according to directions on the package.