Eucalyptus oil Effect, Application, Quality & Purchase Recommendation

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 12:24 min

Eucalyptus oil is made from the leaves of the Australian eucalyptus tree and is particularly famous for its cooling and antibacterial properties.

Name Eucalyptus
Lat. Name Eucalyptus globulus
Synonyms Fever tree, rubber tree, blue rubber tree
Origin China & Australia
Price per 10ml 4,90

The oil smells like camphor, only slightly spicier. The smell is reminiscent of citrus fruits.

Eucalyptus is a remedy tried and tested throughout the ages. Its effects were known to the Aborigines, who used it routinely. Due to its diverse range of effects, the oil is utilized in a wide variety of products.

Eucalyptus oil can be found in ointments, cough drops and more. In addition to its famous relief of cold symptoms, the active ingredients in eucalyptus oil also have relaxing, antispasmodic effects, which positively impact pains of all kinds. Eucalyptus oil inhibits inflammation, strengthens the immune system and destroys numerous bacteria and fungi.

Internal effect

Eykalyptus Blüte As is widely known, eucalyptus oil promotes respiratory tract health. Its marked expectorant effect (promotes mucous drainage and opening of the airways) is particularly valued. For people with a cold or flu, this can aid the clearing the respiratory tract and mucous bronchial tubes.

The oil stimulates the release of water, which liquefies the mucus and makes it easier for the person to cough. The active ingredient 1,8-cineol, which is abundant in eucalyptus oil, is responsible for this effect. This substance is not only able to free the bronchial tubes from viscous mucus, it also works well as a treatment for blocked sinuses.

Another site of affect of the oil is cold receptors. Mucus formation in the respiratory tract is very often accompanied by mild inflammatory reactions in the body. By stimulating the cold receptors, the response of inflammation is reduced, which provides the patient with further relief.

A study by scientists from the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen and Aachen in 2009 examined the effect of eucalyptus oil in a lung condition known as COPD. It was found that after just half a year of treatment, there was a significant improvement in the chronic, convulsive cough that COPD caused.

Another study looked at the effects of eucalyptus oil on chronic bronchitis. It was found that treatment with eucalyptus oil did not lead to the typical worsening of the disease, seen during the flu season, and that antibiotics could even be stopped.

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Bacteria

Eucalyptus oil’s antibacterial properties Like many other essential oils, eucalyptus oil has a broad spectrum effect against bacteria. This antibacterial effect is also one of the reasons why the oil is found in many skin creams. It is particularly effective against bacterial strains of Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. The antibacterial effect of eucalyptus oil is also used today in dentistry. A study by the Kiel University Clinic in 2009 carried out studies on the effects of various essential oils in implantology and was able to demonstrate very good effects on eucalyptus oil.

Cancer

While eucalyptus is not able to cure cancer, recent research has found that eucalyptus oil influences the body's synthesis of important proteins that are responsible for cell growth. This property of eucalyptus oil, according to scientists, offers an opportunity to inhibit the growth of tumors. Dr. Penzel investigated precisely this mode of action of eucalyptus oil.

External effects

Rheumatism

Eucalyptus oil offers significant, anti-inflammatory effects and pain-relief, while also improving circulation. These can be used to treat painful rheumatic problems. The term ‘rheumatism’ encompasses hundreds of different diseases that experts call diseases of the rheumatic type. Almost all of these conditions cause pain in the joints that cause inflammation. Over time, the inflammation in the joint spreads to the surrounding connective tissue.

The reason for the inflammation varies. In gout, for example, the level of uric acid in the blood is increased. Over time, this leads to the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints, which cause painful inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the joints. Osteoarthritis of the joints leads to inflammation through wear of the articular cartilage.

Massaging skin with eucalyptus oil means that the area around the joints is better supplied with blood. In this way, nutrients from the blood and plant substances from eucalyptus can diffuse more easily into the interior of the joints. Simultaneously, eucalyptus oil relieves pain and inhibits inflammation.

Poor odours

Eucalyptus oil has an exceedingly strong deodorant effect. It is therefore able to mask certain unpleasant smells. This works particularly well with cold tobacco smoke. This characteristic of the oil is an additional reason for its common use in a variety of room fragrance sprays.

Hair treatment

A few drops of eucalyptus oil with a little coconut or olive oil is a popular moisturising treatment. This remedy is particularly well suited to counteract dandruff and itchy scalp. Eucalyptus is also used as a natural cure for lice and can replace chemical treatment.

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Hands and skin cleansing

Eucalyptus oil is an excellent degreasing agent, and removes grease and dirt from the hands and feet. At the same time, the oil is said to have an effect on minor abrasions and to keep the skin supple.

Treatments of cellulite

Eucalyptus oil has an astringent effect. This causes the connective tissue to contract under the skin. Cellulite mainly arises from the accumulation of water in the connective tissue. If the tissue contracts and the water stored here can then be removed via the blood. This visibly reduces the unsightly appearance of cellulite.

Anti-parasitic

Combating intestinal parasites is one of the traditional areas of application for eucalyptus. However, not all types of eucalyptus oil are equally effective against parasites. Eucalyptus Staigeriana essential oil kills worms and other intestinal parasites particularly well.

Relief from of urinary disorders

Ingestion of Eucalyptus oil also helps with diseases of the urinary tract, such as cystitis. The antibiotic properties of the oil are a benefit here. Its relaxing, antispasmodic effects also support healing.

Side effects

Eucalyptus oil is a proven home remedy, but there are a few things one should consider when using it. There may be side effects as it contains cineol. Cineol is an irritant effect to skin and especially to mucous membranes. If the aim is to inhale the oil, only do so in a heavily diluted form. One may otherwise experience difficulty breathing, if the bronchi are overexcited. For people suffering from asthma, inhaling essential oils is contraindicated as it can lead to an asthma attack.

Eucalyptus oil should also only be used in a very diluted form as a bath additive. It promotes blood circulation and can contribute towards spider veins and varicose veins.

In general, eucalyptus oil should not be used during pregnancy. It can be mildly toxic to the liver in higher concentrations. It should also generally not be used in infants and young children, as they can react very sensitively to the ingredients it contains.

People who already have liver disease, a sensitive stomach or biliary problems should also refrain from taking it.

When used externally, eucalyptus oil is also capable of triggering allergic reactions. So if you want to apply the oil to your skin, first test how you react to the oil on an invisible area of the skin.

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People who need to take medication regularly should take care not to take eucalyptus oil chronically. The oil activates certain enzymes in the liver that are responsible for breaking down medication. By activating these enzymes, drugs are broken down faster and their effects could be weakened.

Diabetics should also exercise caution when taking eucalyptus oil because it can lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous. People suffering from diabetes should therefore check their blood sugar levels more precisely when taking eucalyptus oil.

Eucalyptus oil should not be taken by people with gastrointestinal disorders, liver problems or biliary problems. People with a sensitive stomach could also experience stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea.

Application

The oral intake of eucalyptus oil is alleviating for people suffering from parasites, rheumatic pain, urinary tract diseases or flu. Enteric-coated capsules are available for oral use. One can also dissolve and drink 2 to 4 drops of oil with sugar or honey in a glass of warm water.

There are several ways to inhale the oils. A few drops can be put in steaming hot water and the vapours can be inhaled. But be careful not to put too much oil in the hot water - the irritant effect of the oil can be severe. One should also only inhale with one’s eyes closed in this method. Another method is to drip the oil onto a handkerchief and then inhale.

Various preparations such as ointments and creams are also available for external use. These creams can be made at home by adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a commercially available skin cream. However, make sure to keep the oil concentration low to avoid irritation of the skin. If you want to use the oil as a classical fragrance oil, only do so in a diluted form. Mix a few drops of the oil with a suitable carrier oil, such as apricot or safflower oil, and then heat the mixture in a diffuser or a fragrance lamp.

Manufacturing

Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves and branches of the tree by water distillation. Eucalyptus leaves contain around 1 to 4 percent essential oil. However, the oil obtained cannot yet be used as an essential oil because it contains irritants that trigger coughing. Therefore, the eucalyptus oil will be treated with lye and subsequent rectification to separate these irritating ingredients and to make the oil usable.

Ingredients

The biologically active ingredients depend on the particular chemotype of the oil. They include:

  • 1.8 cineole
  • Alpha and beta pinene
  • Citronellal
  • Lime
  • Phellandren
  • Geranial
  • Neral

1.8 cineole This monoterpene is also known as eucalyptol because it gives the eucalyptus oil its typical smell. This plant active ingredient has a strong anti-inflammatory and expectorant effect. It is so strong that it even helps with chronic respiratory complaints.

Alpha and beta pinene These monoterpenes feature an intense scent of conifers. Alpha-pinene is particularly beneficial for health. It is often a component of medications treating urinary tract infections and kidney disease. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and promotes blood flow to organs and tissues.

Citronellal The name of this active ingredient comes from Citronella, also known as lemongrass. The intense citrus scent effectively keeps insects away.

Lime This monoterpene is most common in plants and is mainly used for its fragrance. It can neutralize stomach acid and can help prevent cancer.

Phellandren The monoterpene phellandrene inhibits inflammation. It reduces the formation of white blood cells and inflammatory messenger substances.

Geranial and Neral These two monoterpene aldehydes together form citral. This substance smells strongly of citrus fruits and has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Chemotypes of eucalyptus oil

There are different chemotypes of eucalyptus. Chemotypes are plants that are of the same species, but differ in their chemical composition. These differences in biochemistry arise from different growth conditions, such as sun exposure, weather and location. Plants react to these differences by adapting to the conditions and increasing the substances that are important to them. There are 7 different chemotypes in eucalyptus:

Blue eucalyptus (Eucalyptus bicostata) This chemotype of eucalyptus is cultivated in Central America, especially in Ecuador. It is the only type of eucalyptus that does not cause allergic reactions in humans and it has the highest antiviral activity of all chemotypes. The active ingredient profile is: 1.8 Cineol (40-80%), Alpha-Pinene (10-30%), Limonen (4-8%), Aromadendren (0-7%).

Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) This type of eucalyptus is mainly grown in China and is known for its strong citrus scent. Its oil is mainly used as a cheap fragrance. Its active ingredient profile is: Citronellal (60-85%), Cineol (15-40%), Isopelugol (0-10%).

Eucalyptus Dives (Eucalyptus dives) This chemotype of eucalyptus occurs exclusively in Australia. It is characteristically lacks the main active ingredient, cineol. Its active ingredient profile is: Phellandren (20-30%), Piperiton (1-8%), p-Cymen (6-10%), Thujen (1-8%).

Common Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) The 'Common Eucalyptus' grown today mainly in China is the most original chemotype of the Eucalyptus. It has the highest antibacterial effect of all types of eucalyptus and was therefore already used as a remedy by the Aborigines. Its active ingredient profile is: cineol (70-90%), pinene (1-5%), limonene (1-8%), p-cymen (1-4%).

Eucalyptus polybractea (Eucalyptus polybractea) This type of eucalyptus occurs only in Australia. The active substance profile is: cineol (85-96%), pinene (1-3%), p-cymen (1-5%).

Peppermint Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) The Australian-grown Peppermint Eucalyptus has the second highest cineol content of all types of eucalyptus. Its active ingredient profile is: cineol (60-75%), terpineol (5-10%), limonene (4-8%), pinene (2-6%).

Eucalyptus Staigeriana (Eucalyptus staigeriana) This type of eucalyptus has the highest antiparasitic effect of all types of eucalyptus. Because of the low cineol content, this type is also ideal for the treatment of respiratory complaints. The active substance profile is: Phellandren (4-7%), Limonen (3-10%), Cineol (15-35%), Geranial (10-15%), Neral (7-15%)

All chemotypes of eucalyptus are suitable for the treatment of health complaints. However, the intensity of their effects is slightly different due to the varying drug profiles.

Botany

The eucalyptus is a plant from the genus of the myrtle plants and with its more than 600 species forms the largest class within its genus. However, only a few species are suitable for extracting eucalyptus oil. The original distribution area of the tree is Australia and Tasmania, where 70% of the eucalyptus tree exist today.

Individual eucalyptus specimens reach heights of up to 97 m and a trunk diameter of up to 20 m. The bark of the eucalyptus is paper-like and built up in several layers, with the outermost layers mostly dead to protect the tree from bush fires.

Cultivation

Eukalyptus Baum Eucalyptus is not only cultivated in Australia today, but in many other subtropical countries. China is the main exporter of eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus is mainly used for the extraction of essential oil, but also for the production of firewood and timber.

If a eucalyptus tree is felled, it grows back incredibly fast. It is one of the fastest growing deciduous trees and prefers dry, sandy soils and very hot temperatures.

The tree is also planted outside of its original range in order to limit the spread of deserts. For example in China, Mongolia and parts of East Africa. The eucalyptus tree has also become known as a forage plant for koalas native to Australia. It is their only source of food.

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