A Glance at Eucalyptus Essential Oil
I have a love for this beautiful oil and hope I present it as it deserves. I'm going to cover what little I know about this remarkable plant and in turn, remarkable essential oil. Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia, and include Eucalyptus regnans, the tallest known flowering plant on Earth. Eucalyptus has been used by the indigenous people of Australia for centuries to relieve everything from common aches and pains to cold and flu symptoms. There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus growing in the world with the vast majority grown in Australia. The Koala bear rarely drinks water-his water comes from the Koala's food, eucalyptus leaves. They must know something we didn’t know; how awesome eucalyptus is for us!
Although indigenous to Australia, the Eucalyptus has spread to other countries. Some species can grow a mind-splintering 125 feet in just 3 years. The gum species Eucalyptus camaldulensis, can live from 500 to 1000 years.
Eucalyptus are the third tallest trees in the world with the tallest species located in Tasmania’s Arve Valley. This species is nicknamed Centurion and stands at a mind blowing 326 feet (99.6m).
The first production of Eucalyptus essential oil began in 1852 in Victoria, Australia and by the turn of the century, eucalyptus oil was being exported to many countries. Over the next 50 years the Australian industry became and continues to be the main eucalyptus oil supplier for all over the world.
The oil is extracted by steam distillation that separates the essential oil from the dried eucalyptus leaves.
The following chart is an example of some of the various species of Eucalyptus used for essential oils and the therapeutic actions of each species. I’ve also listed an average percentage of active components within each one. This does not cover all species of Eucalyptus.
SOME SAFETY TIPS: There is no formal testing on dives. It is suggested that this oil be avoided by those that are pregnant, infants, and children. There is no formal testing on radiata. It is suggested that this oil be avoided by those that are pregnant, infants, and children. Avoid use on sensitive or damaged skin. You’ll find that I use the citriodora (lemon) often since this species is the safest choice for children and those that are pregnant.
For those that are unaware, 9 drops of essential oil diluted in one ounce of a fatty or carrier oil represents a 1% dilution rate. We dilute essential oils for two specific reasons; to protect the skin from any possible skin irritations and because essential oils evaporate rather rapidly, the carrier oil “fixes” the essential oil, slowing down the evaporation rate. This allows more time for the absorbable components of the essential oil(s) to absorb through the skin.
The suggested maximum dilution rates for citriodora are: 3-24 months no more than 0.5% or 4-5 drops per one ounce of carrier. For 2-6 years of age maximum of 2%, 6-15 years would be a maximum of 3% and 15+ no more than 5 %. Those that are pregnant should stay under 2% and avoid the first 3 months of pregnancy.
The suggested maximum use for globulus and radiata are as follows: Use less than 0.5% for those less than 2 years of age. 2-6 years old, use less than 1%, 6 to 15 years old, the suggested maximum is 2% and 15+ is a maximum of 5%. And for those that are pregnant and beyond the first 3 months, a maximum of 2% is recommended.
Below are a few ways that Eucalyptus can be instituted into your health routines. I’ve provided some blends. I hope you enjoy them. If so desired and keeping safety in mind, change the suggested Eucalyptus species I've chosen to one that suits your personal needs based on the above chart.
1. A Natural Cough Suppressant
For over a century, people in the western hemisphere have been using eucalyptus to treat coughs and upper respiratory irritation. Most cough drops on the market today contain a small concentration of eucalyptus oil to scratch that tickling itch in your throat. Since we’re not Chemists and formulating for internal use requires intense schooling and safety, I do not recommend you use Eucalyptus internally. However, externally it still has powerful effects, especially in an inhaler or steam. The vapors produced by eucalyptus oil work to soothe irritated nerves in your respiratory tract and some components within the oil work as a numbing agent. The provided blend kicks out coughs and respiratory congestion.
*Due to some of the constituents within Eucalyptus species, it is not
recommended for internal use. Piperitone is an example of a constituent,
that, when ingested can induce vomiting and diarrhea. (1) *
1 blank inhaler
5 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus dives
5 drops Rosemary Rosmarinus ct. verbenone
5 drops Frankincense Boswellia carterii
Directions: Blend your oils and add to one blank inhaler. Inhale as needed. Keep in mind “some safety tips” noted above for the species dives and adjust as needed.
2. Cold and Flu Symptom Relief
One of the greatest benefits of eucalyptus oil is its function as an expectorant. Whether you are still suffering from the cold or flu or remnants of it, an expectorant will help to clear out the left behind mucous build up. An expectorant works to release sputum, phlegm and mucous from our airways. Dr. Jean Valnet speaks of how one must take a strong antibiotic “from three to upwards of twenty days and this would be for a feverish condition, straightforward bronchitis or simply nasal catarrh. The essences of eucalyptus would have dealt with such conditions in a matter of 24-48 hours-; 8 days at the most for the stubborn cases”. (2)
For daytime or night relief, the following will open your airways to make breathing and sleeping more comfortable. The sweet marjoram, frankincense and vetiver will help you rest more peacefully since these oils also are calming and sedative to the CNS (central nervous system). Vetiver is also known for it’s support during grief or sadness, so it really puts you in a peaceful state of mind.
Cold and Flu Symptom Relief Chest Rub
1-ounce unscented cream or carrier oil
3 drops Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana
3 drops Frankincense Boswellia carterii
3 drops Eucalyptus Citriodora (lemon)
9 drops Vetiver Chrysopogon zizanioides or Ruh Khus Vetiveria zizanioides
You can leave out the cream and use this blend to diffuse. Due to the Sweet Marjoram and Vetiver, this blend can produce a sedative effect.
Diffusion is the safest method of application. However, for children 5 and under, direct diffusion would be a concern. Direct diffusion includes inhaling oils from hands, on a cotton ball, in a steam or the use of inhalers. (3)
*To avoid possible neurological side effects, Robert Tisserand suggests
diffusing at no more than 30-minute intervals, with at least 10-minute breaks. WE do not recommend diffusing all night.
Diffusion is the safest method of application for children when using
oils considered safe for children and following safety advice.*
Alternatively, you can use Eucalyptus using a simple steam technique. Steams are a great way to open clogged passages and the respiratory system. Avoid oils that are hot or spicy oils, such as Nutmeg or Black Pepper. You’ll need a few supplies to prepare. Using no more than 1-2 drops, either alone or in the following blend. There is no need to use more than suggested amount to achieve end results.
Heat a quart of water on the stove to boiling point BUT do not boil. We just want it hot. Transfer to a ceramic bowl. Add chosen oil/oils, close your eyes, cover head with a small towel and breathe in the steam. You can do this up to 10 or more minutes, taking breaks in between.
Once the water cools, uncover and let it sit to cleanse the air. The following blend can also be used in a steam:
9 drops Eucalyptus Globulus or Radiata
5 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
1 Drops Lemon Citrus limon
Directions: Using 1-2 drops (no more is needed or safe), you are now ready for your steam. Store your remaining blend in an amber glass bottle and a cool dark place to reserve the shelf life of the blend.
A Side Note: If using citrus oils in steams, they should be kept at no more than 10-15% of the total blend. This will help to avoid any mucous membrane irritation. So, for example, if we are making a blend of 30 total drops, then we would use a maximum of 3-4 drops of citrus oil. This is a master blend; one I can store and use for more than one application.
3. Soothing and Healing Shampoo
Shampoos and soaps made with eucalyptus are wonderful for stress relief and soothing sore muscles in your neck and shoulders. One way you can use eucalyptus essential oil to make your own hair and skin lotion. However, most are irritants so choosing a skin friend Eucalyptus is imperative to avoid irritation. The second thing to consider is the maximum percentage that can be topically used safely, yet effective. At 2% and above, Eucalyptus was irritating to various subjects. (4).
Whenever using oils that have possible irritation to skin, keep it below the recommended maximum percentage and use along with skin friendly oils to help ease the possibility of irritation. For the following recipe, I’ve chosen Helichrysum for its cicatrisant (skin healing) properties and Patchouli for its wound healing properties and ability to ease scalp irritations. They compliment Eucalyptus nicely in skin blends including shampoos.
Soothing Eucalyptus Shampoo
4 Ounces unscented shampoo
3 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus smithii
10 drops Patchouli Pogostemon cablin
5 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum
4. Sinus and Allergies
For sinus and bronchial infections, we go with Odorata. When 8 Eucalyptus essential oils were tested in a study, Eucalyptus odorata stood out amongst the others. The cytotoxic effect and the antiviral activity varied significantly within Eucalyptus species oils. E. odorata showed the strongest activity against several strains including S. aureus, H. influenzae, S. agalactiae and against all the tested fungal strains. For further details, see reference. (5)
Used with other oils with similar properties can help ease symptoms and discomfort from sinus inflammation and swelling.
6 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus odorata
3 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
2 drops Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis ct. 1,8 cineole
3 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
*Safety Alert: Due to Eucalyptus and Rosemary and possible neurological effects, this inhaler is not for children under the age of 10 years old. Adjust as needed.*
5. Household Use
Because of Eucalyptus globulus strong anti-bacterial actions and antimicrobial properties, it’s a good addition to your cleaning products. You can blend 1-2 drops into a tablespoon or so of pine oil then add to your water to wipe down your counters and mop your floors. It’s refreshing and keeps us healthy.
*Caution though! If you have pets or small children, we discourage using essential oils in cleaning supplies since there respiratory and neurological systems are much gentler than ours.*
6. Insect Repellent
Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a promising study of the use of lemon (citriodora) Eucalyptus oil in insect repellent products. (6)
I’ve personally experienced its success in a blend. We had a wedding of 300 hundred in August in Louisiana, the land of mosquitoes. On our country property next to the mosquito loving lake, with the following blend, we danced into the night and not a single guest had concerns of mosquito bites. Since creating the following blend for the wedding, we’ve continued to use nothing else but this great blend and recipe for our outdoor times. And the best thing is it is safe to use for all ages.
The Best Insect Repellent
2-ounce unscented lotion, cream or carrier oil
12 drops Patchouli Pogostemom cablin
6 drops Vanilla Oleoresin
6 drops Cedarwood Juniperus virginiana
6 Drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Citriodora (lemon)
Directions: Apply to exposed skin to head off mosquitoes. Application last 4-6 hours.
The Aborigine tribes of Australia have historically used eucalyptus leaves to bind wounds and treat burns. Eucalyptus oil acts as a natural disinfectant in cleaning a wound or burned area of the skin. The oil has strong anti-microbial properties that prevent infections during recovery, and the anti-inflammatory properties ease pain and speed the healing process. Do not use it or any essential oil undiluted on the skin or on open wounds. Here, we show you how to use it effectively and safely during your healing process.
Wound or Skin Healing Oil
2 ounces Forahana (Tamanu) Oil
5 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus odorata
10 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum
5 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
10 drops Frankincense Boswellia sacra
Directions: After wound has closed (scabbed over), apply to wound 3-4 times a day.
*Never apply essential oils to an open wound.*
8. Soothing Cold Sores
As an anti-inflammatory treatment, eucalyptus oil provides fast pain relief and reduces the swelling of cold sores. In fact, many cold sore balms on the market today include eucalyptus oil in their active ingredients for use on cold sores. Because of the tender mucous membranes that are exposed during a breakout of cold sores, we discourage making your own formula with Eucalyptus for this purpose and rely on one that has been formulated.
9. Aches and Pains/Arthritis
We love Eucalyptus for aches and pains. Depending on the species you choose, you can help to combat sore muscles after exercise and ease arthritis related aches and pain in your hands, knees, or feet with some simple guidance. (7)
Along with essential oils, removing inflammatory foods from your diet can help. Adding herbs, and fresh vegetables that combat inflammation can be an additional tool. Some suggestions are celery, turmeric, black pepper and other spices. The Arthritis Foundation lists foods that contribute to the inflammatory process. (8)
Arthritic Symptom Relief
4-ounces unscented cream or carrier of choice
10 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus
20 drops Engleman Spruce Picea engelmanii
30 drops Siberian Fir Abies sibirica
10 drops Hemp sativa
Directions: Apply to inflamed area 3-4 times a day or as needed. Skin is more receptive to absorption of any topical products when it is clean, warm and dry.
10. Minor Dental Care
Because we do not consider encouraging internal use, including in the mouth, we suggest Eucalyptus Hydrosol for your oral needs.
Hydrosols are the waters left after distillation of the essential oils. They have strong therapeutic effects with a gentle approach. For children, pets and those sensitive, we recommend hydrosols. I use them daily for my personal needs as well. Orally, you can swish your mouth after brushing to freshen and protect breathe.
When it comes to taking care of your teeth and freshening your breath, due to its antimicrobial properties and its function as an anti-inflammatory, hydrosol can soothe irritated gums and kill bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease. We recommend diluting your hydrosols with water at a 50/50 ratio before using.
11. Brain Boosting
Because of the stimulating effects on the circulatory system and central nervous system, they are perfect for getting those brain waves going and preparing to take on mental tasks. (9)
Unless you know everyone’s health, it is best to use a personal inhaler in public forums.
Stimulating and Energizing Lotion
1-ounce unscented lotion
6 drops Eucalyptus Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon)
3 drops Rosemary ct. Rosmarinus verbenone
Directions: Apply to chest and wrists. We’ve kept this at a safe 0.33% for topical use. To make an inhaler, use 10 drops of Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus and 5 drops of Rosemary ct. Rosmarinus verbenone.
12. Stimulating Immune Responses
Several documented studies have shown that when exposed to eucalyptus oil, it can stimulate the immune system. This might drive development of a possible new family of immuno-regulatory agents. (10)
13. Mobile Air Conditioning
When you know you are going to be outdoors in the heat for an extended period. Eucalyptus hydrosol is the perfect choice. Combined with peppermint hydrosol, you’ll cool right down and enjoy the therapeutic benefits offered by these beautiful hydrosols. Dilute your hydrosol with water by 50% for added protection to the skin.
14. Bath Salts
For a soothing bath, add 2 drops of Eucalyptus citriodora to 2 tablespoon of jojoba oil or carrier of choice. Add your blended oils to one ounce of bath salts. Add one tablespoon to your bath. Not only will you breathe easier, but your sore muscles and tired feet will appreciate the pain-relieving soak.
Overall, eucalyptus oil is an excellent oil that provides a myriad of health benefits to people every day, all over the world. It is truly remarkable and should top your “Gotta' have this oil” list.
If you enjoyed what you read, please let me know by liking the post and sharing what you liked best in the Comments section below. Thank you kindly-Rehne Burge, C.A.
Sheppard-Hanger, Sylla; The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual; Part III Phytochemical Index, Phellandrene, Pg. 519
Dr. Jean Valnet, The Practice of Aromatherapy; Pg. 57
Tisserand, R. and Young, R. (2007) Essential oil safety; A guide for health care professionals (2 Nd Ed.). NY: Churchill Livingston; Inhalation, pg. 658
Tisserand, R. and Young, R. (2007) Essential oil safety; A guide for health care professionals (2 Nd Ed.). NY: Churchill Livingston; Eucalyptus (cineole-rich), pgs.; 273-274