The Australian eucalyptus tree is the source of the oil of the same name. Eucalyptus oil is produced by an intense steam distillation process - it requires over 100 kilos of plant material to produce just two kilos of oil.
The Australian Aboriginals have known about the plant's medicinal properties for thousands of years, using it to treat fevers, and as a remedy for skin conditions.
The principal active ingredient in eucalyptus oil is "eucalyptol". It has strong germicidal and disinfectant properties, and is used by modern herbalists to treat colds and other respiratory ailments. Anyone who has ever had a cold will know that is makes an excellent decongestant.
This versatile essential oil has numerous other uses, including:
- Lowering blood sugar
- As a diuretic
- As an analgesic (to relieve muscle, nerve and joint pain)
- To relieve coughs and fevers
There are various environments where it is used for its airborne properties. A few drops of the oil in a diffuser in a sickroom can kill germs in the air and reduce the number of airborne bacteria. Similarly, it is sometimes used to detoxify the air in a sauna.
For those who don't like using modern medicines to treat wounds, a few drops of the essential oil on a dressing can help heal wounds, burns, ulcers and insect bites or stings.