Eucalyptus – nature’s cold remedy and much more!
by Alix Williams
“ A blocked-up or stuffy nose
is a common occurrence at this time of year ”
A blocked-up or stuffy nose is a common occurrence at this time of year, and I find breathing in the aroma of eucalyptus essential oil a great help. I usually carry round a tissue sprinkled with the oil during the day and, at night, I add a few drops to my pillow. At work I use an aromatherapy diffuser designed for use in the office to infuse Eucalyptus radiata oil into the atmosphere. The antibacterial/antiviral properties of this eucalyptus oil not only alleviate the symptoms of a blocked nose or stuffy head, but are also useful in preventing the spread of respiratory infections such as colds and flu – a great benefit in a closed office environment.
Eucalyptus essential oil is derived from the Eucalyptus tree – though ‘tree’ is a bit of a misnomer as the genus Eucalyptus covers over 700 different species of tree (and some bushes!). Members of the Eucalyptus family (known as eucalypts) are mostly indigenous to Australia, but are now also cultivated in California, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and China, and this is where most of the world’s supply of essential oil comes from. The trees come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in height from small (less than 10m tall) to up to 90 m. Most are evergreen with leaves covered in oil glands, and it is the leaves that are steam distilled to produce the essential oil.
Eucalyptus trees are also known as gum trees, but the word gum refers to the copious sap released by many species when the bark is broken rather than to the essential oils produced by the trees. The gum is also used medically as a constituent of gargles, syrups and lozenges, for the treatment of sore or inflamed throats.
Despite the huge number of species, only a few eucalypts produce essential oils that are commonly used in aromatherapy. The most common essential oils used in aromatherapy are: Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon eucalyptus), Eucalyptus piperita (eucalyptus peppermint) and Eucalyptus smithii. Although all of these oils are reputed to have antibiotic and antiseptic properties, and are hence good for alleviating the symptoms of colds, their aromas and properties have subtle differences.
Eucalyptus globulus, the most commonly found essential oil, has a stimulating but very strong aroma. It is good for respiratory problems, reducing mucus membrane swelling and inflammation, and for soothing sore muscles, rheumatism, headaches and nervous exhaustion. It is widely used in commercial cold remedies and preparations for relieving aching muscles.
Eucalyptus radiata has a lighter aroma than Eucalyptus globulus, but has the same beneficial effects. Because its aroma is ‘softer’, it is easier to inhale as it is less likely to trigger the cough reflex. This essential oil is therefore usually the preferred choice for use in aromatherapy. In addition, it is thought to have antiviral and antifungal properties, and so is a good choice for diffusing into the atmosphere to help prevent the spread of colds and flu.
Eucalyptus citriodora – with this oil the eucalyptus aroma is fresher and topped with a citrussy aroma. E. citriodora has good air-freshening properties and, as it is also thought to have antiviral and antifungal properties, it is another good choice for diffusing into the atmosphere to help prevent the spread of respiratory infections. essential oil
Eucalyptus piperita has a distinct spicy peppermint tinge to its aroma, and is also used widely in commercial preparations for relieving nasal congestion.
Eucalyptus smithii is a very mild eucalyptus oil and is good for use with children.
In addition to helping fight the symptoms of colds and preventing the spread of airborne infections, all eucalyptus oils can help clear the mind, promote alertness, focus concentration and fight exhaustion – making them additionally useful against work-related stress!
Eucalyptus essential oil is an important part of my cold defence and survival pack – along with vitamin E (to help fight off cold symptoms) and lavender essential oil (to aid sleep). Frankly, I don’t know what I would do without it!
For more information on aromatherapy and work-related stress visit: Aroma4u.co.uk
Please be aware that this article is about the inhalation of the aroma of eucalyptus essential oil. This essential oil (and most others) should not be used directly on the skin or internally. Essential oils should also be kept away from children, pets and the eyes. As the oils are very volatile and, therefore flammable, also keep them away from naked flames. Essential oils should never be used in place of medical treatment. If you are pregnant, epileptic, suffering from high blood pressure or already taking medication, consult your medical practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist.
- Wildwood C. Aromatherapy. Bloomsbury Publishing plc, London, 1997.
- Worword VA. The Fragrant Pharmacy. A complete Guide to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils. Banatm Books, London, 1996.
For the best effects, it is advisable to buy pure Essential oil products containing synthetic ingredients will not provide the same degree of benefit.
Article written by Alix Williams
Alix Williams is a regular contributor to the holistic website Aroma4u.co.uk, a home-based UK business that provides eco-friendly
aromatherapy stress relieving gifts
and now Unique essential oils.
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