The Eucalyptus tree has been referred to as one of the most useful trees in the world as it is used for everything from mulch and paper to fuel, wind breaking and the oil for its antibacterial properties, especially in fighting malaria. The Eucalyptus is regarded by the Aborigines people of Australia as a ‘cure-all’ due to its antiseptic abilities. It belongs to the same tree family as the tea tree (the Myrtacae), and is not only one of the fastest growing trees, but can quickly reach heights of 300 to 480 feet. There are over seven hundred varieties and three hundred species of Eucalyptus.
The tree grows in damp moist land areas and has an extensive root system that absorbs an immense amount of water. In an attempt to purify the air and soil as well as dry up marshy areas that were infested with malaria infected mosquitos, natives deliberately planted Eucalyptus trees. Various European scientists and doctors studied the Eucalyptus to explore the health benefits of the oil as well as the fragrance. The most successful story occurred in 1855 when the French government sent Eucalyptus seeds to Algeria’s disease ridden sectors and achieved a conversion to healthy and dry areas. The popularity of this almost miracle tree and its oil became popular during World War I when there was an outbreak of meningitis as well as the famed influenza outbreak in 1919. Eucalyptus was used in such high quantities for its antiseptic value that the seeds and trees were expanded to other countries including Spain, South Africa, China, Chile Portugal and Russia.
To produce one pound of Eucalyptus oil, it required over fifty pounds of plant material. In search of a treatment of chest problems, Doctors Cossiden and White made the first distillation of Eucalyptus oil in 1788. In a publication by German doctors, they listed the classification of Eucalyptus oil as a ‘sudorific’, an anticatharral stimulant and astringent. It was prescribed during that time for respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, flu and coughs. The oil that was introduced to Europe was extracted from the peprita Eucalyptus and was referred to as ‘Sydney peppermint’. The oil and leaves became so popular that it was a household remedy for medical conditions involving fever, respiratory ailments and applied topically for burns, wounds, ulcers and other skin problems.
Although it may have started out as an Aboriginal medicine, Eucalyptus has become one of the most versatile and universal oils in the world. The properties that are contained include: antiseptic, anti-parasitic, analgesic, expectorant and deodorant. The active ingredient has a stimulating effect on the nervous system and can cause invigoration on the mucus membranes. When applied topically it is used to relieve muscular pains and aches, specifically those that involve rheumatic pains. Chinese medicine makes use of Eucalyptus for clearing mucus and is part of the treatments for the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis and onset of fever or flu, with applications in massage, compress, and bath.
Always confer with a primary care physician prior to making any changes in your medical regiment.