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The Unique Health and Cleaning Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Updated on July 22, 2013

An introduction to eucalyptus oil

Derived from the distilled oil of the eucalyptus tree, eucalyptus oil has historical origins dating back for many centuries. It has many, impressive properties, that mean it is a great natural product to use for health reasons and for cleaning in the home, avoiding too many chemicals.

Eucalyptus, evolving from the Greek term that means “well covered,” is an incredible plant that is native to Australia.

The eucalyptus plant itself is categorized in the myrtle family of plants, located in the broad and larger genus of “flowering trees.”

While there are over 700 different species of eucalyptus, Australia contains the greatest variety of eucalyptus species, with more than 691 species.

In fact, scientists have found that there are only 15 species in the world that are found, naturally, outside Australia.

Eucalyptus cretata in Melbourne, Australia (this photo is in the public domain)
Eucalyptus cretata in Melbourne, Australia (this photo is in the public domain)
Eucalyptus angustissima in Melbourne, Australia (this photo is in the public domain)
Eucalyptus angustissima in Melbourne, Australia (this photo is in the public domain)

The history of eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus’ benefits first became popularized in 1788 when researchers found that the eucalyptus essential oil, derived from the leaves of the plants and trees, exhibited a fresh fragrance and aroma.

Shortly after this discovery, Joseph Bosito, a pharmacist, began crushing the leaves for commercial distribution and medical use in 1851.

At this time, eucalyptus oil was used as a general health aid, commonly utilized to suppress coughs, alleviate breathing issues and congestion, as well assuage additional ailments.

The success and popularity of the eucalyptus plant oil eventually lead to the gradual rise in manufacturing “stills,” and the oils were then distributed to the global market with exports to England in 1865. By the early 1900s, eucalyptus oil had grown in popularity all around the world.

While there are certainly many types of eucalyptus, only an estimated 10 species are actually beneficial for the production of essential oils.

The essential oils of the eucalyptus herb smell incredibly clean and fresh, providing consumers a variety of benefits.

Eco-friendly cleaning with eucalyptus oil

Today, many people use eucalyptus oil for its natural disinfectant and pest-deterrent properties.

As eucalyptus oil is an all-natural compound, many of us (including my family) use this oil as a replacement for harsh chemical cleaning agents.As far as I'm concerned, anything which reduces my family's exposure to chemicals is a Good Thing.

To use the oil for basic cleaning purposes, one can simply combine oil with basic dish-soap and water.

The mixture can be gently shaken in a spray bottle, and then can be sprayed and wiped on tile, ceramic, and other common surfaces.

In fact, many users of the oil proclaim that one of the best Eucalyptus benefits is its ability to remove paint, gum, grease, ink, and other tough stains from clothing and materials.

If you try this, check on a seam out of the way first, if the material is coloured. You can therefore be sure that the essential oil won't alter the colour.

Eucalyptus platypus - this photo is in the public domain
Eucalyptus platypus - this photo is in the public domain

Eucalyptus benefits for respiratory complaints

In addition to environmentally friendly cleaning perks, eucalyptus plant oil is also used to treat a variety of respiratory problems.

As eucalyptus essential oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, non-inflammatory, and anti-microbial, the oil can be used to alleviate symptoms and problems associated with asthma, congestion, the common cold, and sinusitis.

One of the best ways to tackle blocked noses and coughs associated with colds and flu is to put a few drops of each of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil in a bowl of warm water, and sit near it.

You can also put the drops of oil on a tissue or handkerchief and put it near you, or on a bedside table.

The use of eucalyptus plant oil for infections and pain

Many athletes and people keen on regular exercise use eucalyptus oil to treat common physical ailments, including wounds, muscle pain, and even mental fatigue.

When applied as directed to cuts, burns, or other injuries, the oil can protect the body from potentially harmful germs and infections.

When applied as directed to sore muscles and joints, the oil serves to reduce inflammation. The act of massaging the oil in (carefully!) to the muscle or joint helps as well as the action of the essential oil itself.

Many people suffering from issues such as muscle sprains, lumbago, rheumatism, and other nerve-related pain are often encouraged by physiotherapists and aromatherapists to use eucalyptus oil to help treat the discomfort.

In addition, when using this oil, many consumers boast of the refreshing mental benefits experienced with proper application.

Some studies report that eucalyptus oil helps stimulate the brain, resulting in increased mental focus, energy, and rejuvenation.


Eucalyptus tetragona in Australia - this photo is in the public domain
Eucalyptus tetragona in Australia - this photo is in the public domain

Additional eucalyptus essential oil medical uses

For even more physical benefits, many individuals choose to use eucalyptus essential oil to take care of their teeth and skin.

When used appropriately, eucalyptus oil helps prevent cavities, plaque build-up, gingivitis, and other oral infections that are caused by germs and bacteria.

Similarly, eucalyptus oil helps keep skin safe from infections with its healing powers.


Eucalyptus trees damaged by fire in San Diego, 2007. Image is in the public domain.
Eucalyptus trees damaged by fire in San Diego, 2007. Image is in the public domain.

Aromatherapy and eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is often used in aromatherapy products, and in massages and treatments, too.

For an aromatherapy massage designed to encourage energy, vitality and get-up-and-go feelings, eucalyptus oil is often blended with one or more of lavender, peppermint, wintergreen, and rosewood essential oils, with a carrier oil such as sweet almond used as a base.

Eucalyptus oil is thought to have a calming effect on highly-strung or anxious people, and is often included in aromatherapy products for people feeling under stress and pressure.

Risks of eucalyptus oil misuse

While eucalyptus certainly offers an array of benefits, individuals should be aware of the potentially fatal consequences of consuming this oil by mouth.

When consumed by mouth by both children and adults, individuals may experience damage to the brain, central nervous system, seizures, coma, or even death.

Some experts assert that even one teaspoon of the eucalyptus herb consumed by mouth can lead to permanent physical damage.

This is one essential oil to keep well away from children.


Who should avoid using eucalyptus oil ?

Young children and infants should avoid eucalyptus oil, as some studies suggest that even the mere inhalation or indirect contact with the oil can result in serious and harmful reactions.

Similarly, to protect a fetus or infant, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this oil.

Additionally, individuals with serious and chronic health issues such as seizure disorder, heart disease, stomach / intestinal disorders, and lungs disease should consult an expert prior to using eucalyptus oil.

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    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      I am a big believer in natural remedies, I certainly think that Aloe Vera gel and Lavender Gel does exactly what it says on the tin. So I am not at all surprised by the beneficial affects of other natural remedy sources.

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 7 years ago from England

      WE have a large collection of oils in our home, and use them regularly. It reduces the need for drugs and chemicals.

    • profile image

      Belair 7 years ago

      Green tea and Eucalyptus are the best remedies and ptotection from H1N1 flu these days. www.belairglobal.com.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Very interesting! Florists used to use it in mixed bouquets for the air freshening quality. Will think of it the next time I have a sinus infection or cold. Thanks!

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 7 years ago from England

      It really does help - I'm just getting over a cold, and this and peppermint in a bowl of hot water really clears the head.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Will go to a health food store in the near future and purchase some. A side benefit is that it must obviously also smell good. Appreciate this information.

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 7 years ago from England

      You should - eucalyptus and peppermint are wonderful for any upper respiratory infection.

    • packerpack profile image

      Om Prakash Singh 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

      Good to see that there are so many people around who all believe in the natural resource just like I do. I liked your Hub. I came here following a message from LondonGirl

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 7 years ago from England

      I'm glad you found it interesting, packerpack.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Ive always use eucalyptus oil whenever i have a cold, but i never realised it has so many other uses besides that. Very good information and i so much love the fact that you can use it with cleaning agents. It'll make the whole house smell crisp and refreshing. Thank you for this, Plants & Oils.

      I believe so much in aromatherapy and stuff, so i'm going to take my time and read all your hubs.

      Just joined your fan club so i can learn more about essential oils.

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 7 years ago from England

      Using it for cleaning does make the house smell really fresh. Glad you like the hub!

    • profile image

      ordinarymary 7 years ago

      Having lived with asthma and COPD for many years, I have experimented with many natural remedies. Recently I have discovered that when taking a nebullized breathing treatment, smearing a small drop of eucalyptus oil on the inside of the connector (between the mouthpiece and the chamber for medication) allows just enough vapor to penetrate deep into the lungs. Very soothing, relieves that raw, irritated feeling of the airway that comes with a cold or bronchitis. Also does not diminish the effectiveness of the nebulized medication.

    • Amez profile image

      Amez 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great Hub Plants and Oil, will have eucalyptus on my list with Tea Tree oil, to buy a my next trip to a health food store. It odd I've really tried a lot of Herbal natural Remedies, and never really tried either of these. Ed

    • Plants and Oils profile image
      Author

      Plants and Oils 6 years ago from England

      definitely worth a go, it really does help

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