Eucalyptus Globulus Oil
Also known as blue gum tree, Eucalyptus globulus is a tall, evergreen tree that attains heights of up to 295 feet. The young trees have bluish-green oval leaves while the mature trees develop long, narrow, yellowish leaves, and creamy-white flowers.1 The name comes from the Greek eucalyptos, meaning well-covered, since the flower buds are enclosed with a cup-like membrane which is thrown off as the flower expands.2
Native to Tasmania and Australia, there are over 700 different species of eucalyptus, of which at least 500 produce an essential oil. E. globulus, the best-known variety, is one of the medicinal oils containing large amounts of cineol (or eucalyptol).1 Other species, which are chemically quite different, are used in perfumery.
E. globulus has long been a favorite household remedy in Australia. A German botanist and director of the botanical gardens in Melbourne introduced the eucalyptus tree to the rest of the world. Since then it has been cultivated in many sub-tropical areas, including Egypt, Algeria, Spain, South Africa, India, and California.2
Traditionally, the leaves and oil were used for respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, and the dried leaves were smoked like tobacco for asthma.1 Eucalyptus oil was also used in all types of fever for its cooling effect on the body. Historically, the eucalyptus plant was also widely used for skin problems, aching joints, and bacterial infections in both western and eastern medicine.1 The oil is sold in pharmacies and other retail outlets in the form of sprays, lozenges, cough drops, ointments and in formulation with other oils.
1 Lawless J. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Dorset, UK: Element Books Inc.; 1992.
2 Tisserand R. The Art of Aromatherapy: The Healing and Beautifying Properties of the Essential Oils of Flowers and Herbs. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 1977.
3 Buckle J. Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier Science; 2003.
4 Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
5 Göbel H, G. Schmidt, M. Dworshak, et al. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomedicine. 1995; 2(2): 93-102.
6 Coppen JJW. Flavors and Fragrances of Plant Origin. 1995. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/v5350e/v5350e07.htm. Accessed February 24, 2005.