Essential Oil Focus: Eucalyptus

Author: Vanessa Gagliardi  

Essential oils have been used by many cultures around the world for thousands of years. The rich history of essential oil use continues to this day, as they are used in perfumes, massage oils, soaps, cleaning products and more. The use of essential oils dates back 20,000 years ago in the Dordogne region of France - cave paintings revealed the usage of medicinal plant oils in day-to-day life. The Ancient Egyptians are renowned for their knowledge and use of essential oils for ointments, perfumes, medicines and as part of their religious practices, including the embalming process!

Let’s zoom in on Eucalyptus, the iconic, native Australian forest tree. Eucalyptus was popular amongst Indigenous Australian communities, where for hundreds of years the leaves were used as a remedy for sore throats, coughs and colds, breathing difficulties and nasal congestion.

Did you know you can actually see the oil in a eucalyptus leaf? Holding the leaf up to the light, you will be able to see tiny pin pricks of white or yellow – this is the oil in the tissue of the leaf. If you crush the leaf in your fingers you will be able to smell the oil too.

Today, eucalyptus essential oil is widely used for its medicinal and industrial purposes. It’s found in air fresheners, disinfectants, cleaning products and laundry liquid. It gives off a minty, woody, pine scent with a touch of sweetness.

Now that we know a bit about the history of eucalyptus, let’s take a look at its benefits and how you can use eucalyptus essential oil in day-to-day life:

 

 

  • Disinfectant – diluted eucalyptus essential oil can be applied on wounds to prevent infection and inflammation, and to promote healing. Key word here: diluted! Either mix a drop of eucalyptus essential oil with some water, oil or a simple moisturising cream before applying to the skin. It’s also a great oil to mop your floor with – add a couple of drops to a bucket of hot water to help control the spread of germs in the house.
     
  • Decongestant – do you have an essential oil diffuser at home? Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to it, and notice how it can help you breathe easier! You can also enjoy its decongestant benefits by dropping about 6 drops on the floor of your shower. The oil will evaporate with the steam from the hot water, allowing you to breathe in its beautiful fresh scent and help clear nasal congestion.
     
  • Insect Repellent – not only for your skin, but for the home too! For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in some moisturising cream or baby oil, and apply to exposed areas of skin to repel mosquitoes. For in the home: drop a few drops of the essential oil onto some pieces of cloth, and place them near the doors and window sills – cockroaches and other creepy crawlies are not fans of the smell!
     
  • For General Cleaning – the beautiful fresh, woody smell of eucalyptus makes it a great cleaner for the home and outdoors. Add 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a large bucket of hot soapy water to wash out your bins, polish up your garden tools or to clean your barbeque.
     
  • Air Freshener – A simple, DIY recipe to freshen up any area of the house. Fill a glass spray bottle half way with witch hazel, then add 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and any other essential oils you like (consider lemon or orange for a fresh, citrus blend). Top with water, shake and you’re ready to spray!

 

Not all essential oils are suitable for everyone – patch test essential oils before use and discontinue if sensitivity occurs. Avoid eye area. If pregnant or have any pre-existing medical conditions, please consult your doctor before use. Do not ingest essential oils. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

 

REFERENCES

- Aroma Foundry, (n.d.), Amazing Uses and Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil,

- Eucalyptusoil.com, (2009), Uses and Tips - Outdoors, <http://www.eucalyptusoil.com/uses-and-tips/outdoors>

- Health & Medicine (2015), the History of Essential Oils, Curious History, <https://www.curioushistory.com/the-history-of-essential-oils/>

- Butler, N. (2015), 9 Unexpected Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil, Healthline, <https://www.healthline.com/health/9-ways-eucalyptus-oil-can-help>

 

Written by Vanessa Gagliardi

Vanessa (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a passion for good food. She uses nutrition and herbal medicine to help people feel their best, from the inside out.

Vanessa enjoys nature walks and Pilates, and loves a good almond mocha.


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