Native to Australia and Tasmania, Eucalyptus, a genus of more than 500 species of evergreen gum trees and shrubs, has been the source of traditional indigenous medicines for centuries. Trees can grow up to 70 metres tall, and have distinctive bark that sheds to reveal smooth, coloured wood underneath.
Eucalyptol, the essential oil distilled from eucalyptus leaves, contains strong antiseptic and antitussive properties. Aromatherapists use the pungent oil from Eucalyptus globulus extensively to clear the air, as well as E. radiata and E. citriodora, which have milder scents. Topical ointments containing eucalyptus oil, as well as teas and tinctures steeped from the leaves, are used to effectively treat everything from arthritis and bad breath to bug bites. Many over-the-counter products, including cough drops, throat lozenges, chest rubs, toothpastes, mouthwashes and muscle relaxants, contain eucalyptus oil and its derivatives.
How to grow it
Eucalyptus can be grown in Canada only as a tropical, placed outside in the summer and over-wintered in a well-ventilated greenhouse. Plant in potting mix with added sharp sand, water freely and treat with a balanced liquid fertilizer when in active growth.
Eucalyptus oil helps loosen phlegm, so try this naturally homemade remedy to relieve your next cold.
- Fill a bowl with boiling water and add one drop essential oil of Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus radiata.
- Cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl and breathe deeply.