Eucalyptus Oil: The 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most ubiquitous plants known to mankind is the Eucalyptus tree. Its various properties make it a very useful plant that it even became a cash crop in poor areas of the world such as Timbuktu. One of the most interesting aspects of the said plant is eucalyptus oil. Prior to considering the use of it for medicinal use, it is best to ask questions and find answers as to whether it will be useful.

What is it?

Eucalyptus oil is a name for the distilled oil extracted from any species of plant belonging to the genus Eucalyptus.

How is it extracted from eucalyptus trees?

Fluid from leaves of selected species of eucalyptus trees is extracted. After extraction, the juices undergo distillation to extract pure eucalyptus oil. Examples of species used for obtaining it are Southern Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus), kochii, and Blue mallee (polybractea).

What are its uses?

It is often used as a fragrance in a variety of cosmetic products. The oil is used in small amounts as flavoring for food such as candies, gum, baked goods, beverages, and meat products due to its aromatic, minty taste. It is an effective natural insect repellant and biopesticide. Its active ingredients have also made it an indispensable product in the pharmaceutical industry as flavoring in a variety of pharmaceutical preparations. The oil itself has been used for prevention and treatment of disease.

What are the active substances?

The most popular active component of it is eucalyptol or cineole. The cineole content  is what makes it popular in pharmaceutical preparations for cough and cold symptoms. Other active components include phellandrene, citral, piperitone, methyl cinnamate and geranyl acetate.

What are the medicinal benefits?

Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects care of cineole. These effects coupled with its pleasant smell courtesy of phellandrene and piperitone make it a popular product for various medicinal preparations to treat symptoms related to respiratory disorders. Eucalyptus oil’s anti-inflammatory effects can reduce hypersecretion of mucus and keep bronchial walls dilated, making it an ideal treatment for asthma. Additionally, its analgesic properties make it a good component for liniment preparations. It also acts as an insect repellant and therefore lessens the risk of getting deadly diseases from insects such as mosquitoes.

For what conditions can it be used for?

Given its physiological effects, it is popularly used as an ingredient for steam inhalation, salve, and chest rub preparations to treat various respiratory disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and sinusitis as well as manage symptoms related to respiratory tract infections such as coughing and sore throat. Topical preparations are often used as an adjunct to massage to relieve muscle soreness and arthritic pain, as an antiseptic for wounds, burns, and ulcers, and as treatment for acne and bleeding gums. Some proponents believe that eucalyptus oil is useful for lowering blood sugar to manage diabetes as well as manage liver and gallbladder conditions.

What do scientific studies say about its effectiveness?

While scientific evidence regarding its efficacy in treating disease is insufficient, there exists research that holds it in positive regard. One study showed scientific evidence that the cineole is responsible for its anti-inflammatory action that is powerful enough to reduce steroid use in steroid-dependent asthma patients. Another study confirmed the antibacterial effects of Eucalyptus globulus leaf extract. A third study confirms the effectivity of it in controlling mucus hypersecretion by inhibiting certain chemicals in the body called cytokines.

What precautions should I take?

eucalpytus oilEucalyptus oil is never to be taken by mouth. Undiluted eucalyptus oil should not be applied to the skin directly. Only children older than 6 years of age should take cough drops containing eucalyptus. People who are afflicted by liver disease, bile duct disease, kidney disease, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and low or high blood pressure should not take eucalyptus leaf extract. While some teas based on eucalyptus leaf preparations are useful in some cases, excessive ingestion can lead to kidney or liver problems. Eucalyptus oil and/or leaf extract should not be used with people making use of the herbs Comfrey, Butterbur, and Borage since it increases the toxicity of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Individuals allergic to eucalyptus must not use the oil or any other products derived from it.

Any person intending to use eucalyptus oil should first seek the advice of a healthcare professional or provider in order to see if the leaf extract can be beneficial to conditions in question. It is always important to make sure that one is safe by being well informed about the use of eucalyptus oil and any other herbal product.

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