The eucalyptus is a tall, fast-growing evergreen flowering-plant native to the Australian continent. It belongs to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, with over 700 species around the world. Eucalyptus varies in size and habit from shrubs to tall trees. They usually either have smooth and fibrous bark and stringy leaves with oil glands. The fruit, commonly known as “gamnut” is a woody capsule which is a roughly cone-shaped and small in size. Outside the Australian continent, eucalyptus is mostly found and is widely cultivated in temperate and tropical regions, including, Europe, Africa, China, America, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
The medicinal properties of Eucalyptus have been utilized for over a thousand years as is evident in the Indian Ayurveda, Chinese traditional medicine, Greek and European styles of medicine. Eucalyptus Globulus, commonly known as Tasmanian Blue Gum, Southern Blue Gum or Blue Gum is the main source of eucalyptus oil used globally. It is one of the most popularly cultivated trees in Australia and India. The oil extracted from the leaves is a colourless liquid with a sweet yet strong woody scent containing 1, 8-cineole, called eucalyptol.The leaves contain tannins and flavonoids which are rich in antioxidants and aids in reducing inflammation. Eucalyptus oil has a wide range of health benefits and is incorporated in various ways and forms from antiseptic to cosmetic products, perfumes, food flavouring product, dental preparations, and industrial solvents.
Eucalyptus oil as a medicine has a high concentration of natural compounds that work in synergy to produce a variety of health-promoting effects and is traditionally used to reduce symptoms of colds, coughs, and congestion. It is also used as ointments to relieve joint and muscle pain. It is also consumed in the form of tea as a remedy for fever.
Health Benefits of Eucalyptus
Although scientific research may not confirm all the claims, Eucalyptus is believed to have a wide range of health benefits and below are some of its potential health benefits:
Although the aromatic and topical use of eucalyptus is generally safe for anyone over the age of two, a Doctor’s advice should be consulted before the consumption of any Eucalyptus products. And any internal use should be considered carefully and only in small doses, particularly with young children and elderly people.