Eucalyptus, or blue gum tree, is a tall plant, often reaching a height of 15 meters. Young eucalyptus leaves have a bluish tint to it, but when it matures, the color transitions into dark green.
Eucalyptus is native to Australia but has been cultivated in other countries around the world. If you are looking for eucalyptus trees, leaves, and products here in the Philippines, several varieties are cultivated in Baguio and Manila.
The usable parts of eucalyptus are its mature leaves and extracted oil. Eucalyptus oil is used both medicinally and as fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics.
Benefits of Using Eucalyptus Leaves
The leaves are the safest part to use if you want to harness the benefits of the eucalyptus tree; the following are its benefits:
Eucalyptus can help in treating cough and cold
There is good research that details how eucalyptus can reduce the amount of mucus and expand the air pathways, allowing a person to breathe easier. The same mechanism is also beneficial for conditions like bronchitis and asthma.
It reduces pain
The leaves of the eucalyptus contain anti-inflammatory properties along with analgesic components that help relieve pain, including headaches.
It promotes general health
Unknown to a lot of people, eucalyptus contains antioxidants. These antioxidants get rid of the toxic free radicals in the body. Because of this, eucalyptus can promote overall health.
It can treat wounds
A study has already determined that eucalyptus has high antibacterial activity as evidenced by a larger zone of inhibition (a spot where bacteria did not grow).
Even in folkloric medicine, crushed eucalyptus leaves can work as antiseptics. The decoction of leaves can also be a wound wash.
It promotes dental health
The antibacterial properties of eucalyptus also prevent the development of gum disease and cavities. This is also the reason why eucalyptol – a compound in eucalyptus – can often be found in mouthwash.
Precautions and Warnings
Before using eucalyptus leaves and oil, take note of the following reminders:
What should I know before using eucalyptus leaves and oil?
Immediately, you must know that the leaves are safer compared to the eucalyptus oil. While the oil can be ingested, you may only use a few drops of it and it must still be diluted with water.
How safe are eucalyptus leaves and oil?
Eucalyptus leaves are likely safe when taken in small amounts, particularly when only used as a food additive. However, there isn’t enough study to determine whether it’ll be safe when taken in large amounts even as a food, so it’s still best to still use the leaves in moderation.
Before using the oil, it is advisable to consult with your physician first. It is believed that drinking or applying undiluted eucalyptus oil is toxic and can be fatal. Watch out for pain and burning sensation in your stomach, muscle weakness, dizziness, and suffocation, as these are some of the symptoms of eucalyptus oil poisoning. To be on the safe side, avoid intake of eucalyptus oil altogether unless you are medically advised to do so.
Commercially prepared essential oils by trusted companies are most probably safe as long as the package instructions are followed and precautions are applied. Often, they will ask you to dilute the oil first before using it.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Some people may be allergic to eucalyptus oil; if you are allergic to tea tree oil, you may also develop an allergic reaction when using eucalyptus leaves and oil, so it’s best to avoid them. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s likely safe for you to eat eucalyptus leaves in small, food amounts.
However, refrain from applying or ingesting the oil as it can pose risk to your pregnancy or your newborn. Additionally, it’s also not safe to let children use eucalyptus oil, topical or otherwise.
As a general rule, talk to your physician first if you plan on using eucalyptus leaves and oil regularly for a specific purpose, especially if you have known allergies, pre-existing medical conditions (particularly liver-related), or are pregnant.
Do not forget to perform an allergy or skin patch test before applying on the skin, even when the oil is diluted.
Side-Effects and Interactions
If you are taking any medication, especially anything related to diabetes and liver conditions do not use eucalyptus as negative drug interactions may happen. To be safe, talk to your physician if you are medicating or if you follow a special diet.
Dosage and Forms
The explanation on the dosages and forms below are meant to help and educate and NOT to replace any advice given by your physician.
Eucalyptus oil is now prepared as essential oils and must be used as instructed. Often it is used with carrier oils. The best way to get the benefits of eucalyptus is to prepare a decoction.
To do so, collect eucalyptus leaves and dry them under the sun for about 6 hours. Now, you can further dry the leaves by putting it inside a paper bag and hanging it in a shaded area for a week.
Collect 50 grams of the dried leaves and boil them in a pint of water. Drink 6 glasses of it in a day. You can also use fresh leaves, but you’ll have to change the measurement from 50 grams to 60-70 grams.
For respiratory conditions, you may choose to not drink the tea, but to inhale the steam coming from the decoction. Additionally, you may also use the decoction to wash the wounds.
While you need to follow a lot of precautions in using the oil, the eucalyptus leaves are deemed safe, especially when taken in small amounts. To harness the benefits of eucalyptus, it’s best to prepare a decoction or use the leaves as a food additive.
Learn more about herbal medicine here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.