This week, we'll be looking into the medicinal attributes of Eucalyptus. Medicinally, the leaves of most species of Eucalyptus trees are used the same. Different species may result in a different quality end product, but the health quality of the individual tree is most important. The most commonly used species of Eucalyptus is Eucalyptus globulus. This is the species we will be talking about today. Eucalyptus globulus is also referred to as: Blue Gum Tree, Stringy Bark Tree, Fever Tree, Blue Mallee, and Gully Gum.
Eucalyptus leaves in general have been used traditionally for ages by the aboriginals in its native habitat (primarily continental Australia and Tasmania). It has been used topically to treat wounds and fungal infections, and internally as a tea to help with fever. In Chinese and Indian traditional medicine, Eucalyptus has been used for treatment of these and a variety of other ailments. Eucalyptus has been used since the 19th century to disinfect catheters.
This particular species of Eucalyptus is native to Victoria and Tasmania in Australia and grows to 375 feet in height. It is largely cultivated in swampy, marshy, or low-lying areas due to its anti-septic nature and particularly absorbent root systems. For these reasons, the Blue Gum Eucalyptus has been successfully transplanted to many marshy or swampy temperate regions, reducing any mosquito population and preventing malarial fevers. It is now cultivated in Europe, Tahiti, North and South Africa, India, California in the United States, and the non-tropical regions of South America.
The leaves are large, leathery, and studded with fragrant oil glands. The first leaves are stalk-less and broad, growing horizontally and opposite each other. They change from a shining whitish-green to a bluish-green hue after four or five years, when they become more sword-like in shape and grow alternately and vertically instead. The flowers grow singly or in clusters, with nearly no stalk, and are covered with a cup-like membrane which is thrown off when the buds bloom.
Eucalyptus is antibacterial, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, aromatic and stimulant. It is therefore used to treat wounds, sores, boils, and for oral health; the common cold, coughs, congestion, and fever; and for pain relief.
Eucalyptus is one herb that is commonly found in over-the-counter medications, particularly for colds and coughs, and in dental hygiene products. It is found in lozenges, cough syrup, vapor rubs, vapor baths, mouthwash, and some toothpaste. It is also found in some insect repellants. Typically, Eucalyptus leaves are distilled for their essential oil, which is then added to the above products, diluted for skin application or ingestion, or added to ointments for skin application. The oil or leaves can also be made into a weak tea for ingestion or simply added to hot boiling water in order to breathe in the steam to aid in decongestion.
Care should be taken when dosing. Children 6 years of age and under should not take Eucalyptus internally, and children 2 years of age and under should not have Eucalyptus applied externally unless under direct supervision of a doctor. Eucalyptus, like many other concentrated medicines, can be toxic when overdosing and should therefore always be taken in a diluted form. For external applications for treating wounds, sores, and ulcers, 1 ounce of the oil should be added to 1 pint of lukewarm water. The extract is given for internal treatment at a dose of ½ to 1 drachm.
Ailments which indicate treatment with Eucalyptus include: upper respiratory infections, congestion, fever, asthma, inflammation of the respiratory tract, fever, and loss of appetite; wounds, sores, boils, acne, and ulcers; bladder disease, liver and gallbladder problems, and diabetes; bleeding gums and gingivitis; arthritis and other pain caused by inflammation.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
It is not recommended to take Eucalyptus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding; if you are taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery. If you are diabetic and taking other medication to lower blood sugar, talk to a doctor before using Eucalyptus oil, which can further lower your blood sugar. It is further not recommended to take Eucalyptus oil with certain medications broken down by the liver, because it can reduce the length of time it takes for the liver to break down medications.
Latin Name: Eucalyptus globulus
Medicinal Actions: Antibacterial, Anti-septic, Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Aromatic, Stimulant
Indications: Upper respiratory infections, congestion, fever, asthma, inflammation of the respiratory tract, fever, loss of appetite, wounds, sores, boils, acne, ulcers, bladder disease, liver and gallbladder problems, diabetes, bleeding gums, gingivitis, arthritis, other pain caused by inflammation
Contraindications: pregnant or breast-feeding; taking narcotics, medications which lower blood sugar, or medications processed by the liver; going into surgery
Botanical.com – Eucalyptus
University of Maryland Medical Center – Eucalyptus
Raspberries with Eucalyptus Meringue
4 c raspberries
2/3 c superfine sugar
1 tbsp water
3 egg whites
1-2 drops eucalyptus oil, or to taste
To make the meringue:
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until dissolved.
- Simmer until sugar syrup reaches 233 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (about 6-8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Continue to cook syrup until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While whisking, gradually add syrup to egg whites in a thin, steady stream and continue to whisk until cool (about 8-10 minutes).
- Fold through eucalyptus oil to taste, then spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle.
- Divide raspberries among 4 shallow heatproof bowls (about 250 ml capacity).
- Pipe meringue on top of raspberries, forming peaked dollops.
- Brown tops with a blow torch or under a hot grill and serve warm.