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Eucalyptus

The leaf of the native Australian evergreen contains a volatile oil that is powerful and immediately recognizable. Commonly used in cough and cold lozenges, the expectorant properties of eucalyptus make it useful for conditions related to the respiratory tract and sinuses. Eucalyptus added to a stem bath is a wonderful way to clear out the breathing passages. Additionally, eucalyptus has anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties that translate into effective internal and external cleansing. Applied topically, eucalyptus eases joint pain and muscle aches, making it no surprise why many vapor rubs on the market have a strong eucalyptus component present.
 
Browse Sections:
 Summary
 Other Names
 Description
 Traditional Internal Uses
 Traditional Topical Uses
 Indications
 Actions
 Constituents / Nutrients
 Pharmacological Summary
 Scientific Research / Actions
 Research
 Precautions / Contraindications
 Interaction with Medications
 Possible Side Effects
 Dosage
 Usage
 Preparation
 References

Common Name
Eucalyptus
 
Parts Used
Leaves
 
Other Names
Blue Gum, Stringy Bark Tree, Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalypti folium.

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Description
The Eucalyptus tree is a tall evergreen tree native to Australia and Tasmania but is cultivated elsewhere. The trunk, which can grow to over 100 m, is covered with peeling, papery bark. The leaves on the young plant, up to five years old, are opposite, sessile, soft, oblong, pointed and a hoary blue colour. The mature leaves are alternate, petioled, leathery and shaped like a scimitar. The flowers are solitary, axillary and white, with no petals and a woody calyx. The fruit is a hard, four-celled, many-seeded capsule enclosed in the calyx cup.

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Traditional Internal Uses
Eucalyptus was first used by Australian aborigines, who not only chewed the roots for water in the dry outback but used the leaves as a remedy for fevers. In the 1800s, crew members of an Australian freighter developed high fevers, but were able to successfully cure their condition using eucalyptus tea. Thus, eucalyptus became well known throughout Europe and the Mediterranean as the Australian fever tree. Early 19th century Eclectic physicians in the United States not only used eucalyptus oil to sterilize instruments and wounds, but recommended a steam inhalation of the vapor of its oil to help treat asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, and emphysema.2

A cold extract made from the leaves of eucalyptus is helpful for indigestion and for intermittent fever. In Sicily, eucalyptus is being extensively planted to combat malaria, on account of its property of absorbing large quantities of water from the soil. Recent investigations have shown that Sicilian Eucalyptus oil obtained from leaves during the flowering period can compete favourably with the Australian oil in regard to its industrial and therapeutic applications. Oil has also been distilled in Spain from the leaves of E. globulus, grown there.

The medicinal eucalyptus oil is probably the most powerful antiseptic of its class, especially when it is old, as ozone is formed in it on exposure to the air. It has decided disinfectant action, destroying the lower forms of life. Internally, it has the typical actions of a volatile oil in a marked degree. Eucalyptus oil is often used as a stimulant and antiseptic gargle. An emulsion made by shaking up equal parts of the oil and powdered gum-arabic with water has been used as a urethral injection, and has also been given internally in drachm doses in pulmonary tuberculosis and other microbic diseases of the lungs and bronchitis. In croup and spasmodic throat troubles, eucalyptus oil may be freely applied externally. The oil is also an ingredient of 'catheder oil,' used for sterilizing and lubricating urethral catheters.

For some years Eucalyptus-chloroform was employed as one of the remedies in the tropics for hookworm, but it has now been almost universally abandoned as an inefficient anthelmintic. Chenopodium oil has now become the recognized remedy. However, in veterinary practice, eucalyptus oil is administered to horses in influenza, to dogs in distemper, to all animals in septicaemia. It is also used for parasitic skin affections. Today, the German E Commission cites eucalyptus leaf as an effective remedy for Catarrhs of the respiratory tract.

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Traditional Topical Uses
Eucalyptus oil is a strong antiseptic and lozenges made from it are useful for lung diseases, colds and sore throats. Its expectorant properties are useful in bronchitis. It can also be used as a vapour bath or chest rub for asthma and other respiratory complaints. It is said to be useful for pyorrhoea and for burns, where it prevents infection, and it also eradicates lice and fleas.

Externally, its antiseptic and deodorant qualities make it suitable for use on purulent wounds and ulcers. Diluted in sunflower oil, it can be applied to cold sores or used as a massage oil for painful joints. In a double-blind trial, a eucalyptus-based rub was found helpful for warming muscles in athletes. Locally applied, eucalyptus oil impairs sensibility and increases cardiac action.

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Indications
Secondary Indications: Arthritis Support

Primary Indications: Asthma

Secondary Indications: Back Pain

Other Indications: Bacterial Infection

Primary Indications: Bronchitis

Other Indications: Burns

Primary Indications: Catarrh, Coughing

Other Indications: Distemper

Other Indications: Flu / Influenza Symptom Support

Other Indications: Infections, Insect Bites and Bee Stings

Joint Problems

Primary Indications: Lung Health

Muscle Ache

Other Indications: Parasites / Parasitic Infections

Primary Indications: Respiratory Problems, Sinusitis / Sinus Infection Support

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Actions
Anti-Inflammatory, Antibacterial, Anticatarrh, Antiparasitic, Antiseptic, Antiviral

Expectorant

Insecticidal

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Constituents / Nutrients
Flavonoids: Eucalyptrin, hyperoside, quercetin, quercitrin and rutin.

Volatile Oils: 0.5-3.5%. Eucalyptol (cineole) 70-85%. Others include monoterpenes (e.g. alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, d-limonene, p-cymene, alpha-phellandrene, camphene, ?-terpinene) and sesquiterpenes (e.g. aromadendrene, alloaromadendrene, globulol, epiglobulol, ledol, viridiflorol), aldehydes (e.g. myrtenal) and ketones (e.g. carvone, pinocarvone).

Other Constituents: Tannins and associated acids (e.g. gallic acid, protocatechuic acid), caffeic acid, ferulic acids, gentisic acid, resins and waxes

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Pharmacological Summary
Eucalyptus is characterised by its volatile oil components. Antiseptic and expectorant properties have been attributed to the oil, in particular to the principal component eucalyptol. It is due to these active properties that eucalyptus is widely used for conditions of the respiratory tract. Test tube studies have demonstrated the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of eucalyptus, while clinical trials suggest benefits in areas of snoring, and muscle aches and tension headaches. The undiluted oil is toxic if taken internally. Essential oils should not be applied to the skin unless they are diluted with a carrier vegetable oil or water.

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Scientific Research and Pharmacologicial Actions
In Vitro and Animal Studies

The major constituent in eucalyptus leaves is a volatile oil known as eucalyptol (1,8-cineol). In order to provide an effective expectorant and antiseptic action, the leaf oil should contain approximately 70-85% eucalyptol.3 Eucalyptus oil is said to function in a fashion similar to that of menthol by acting on receptors in the nasal mucosa, leading to a reduction in symptoms such as nasal congestion.4 In test tube studies, eucalyptus species have been shown to possess antibacterial actions against such organisms as Bacillus subtilis,5 as well as several strains of Streptococcus.6 These actions have not been researched in human clinical trials.

In vitro antiviral activity against influenza type A has been documented for quercitrin and hyperoside.

Clinical Studies

Peppermint (10 grams) and eucalyptus oil (5 grams) in combination, applied topically to the forehead and temples for three minutes with a small sponge, have been shown to be helpful as a muscle relaxant (but not for pain relief) in people with tension headaches.7 A eucalyptus oil extract containing 50% p-methane-3,8-diol (PMD) as the active ingredient has been shown to be effective in protecting human volunteers from various types of biting insects.8 On human forearms, it was determined that the eucalyptus extract was nearly as effective as a 20% solution of diethyltoluamine (used in many insect repellents) in repelling bites of the Anopheles mosquito (the insect that spreads malaria) for up to five hours. The eucalyptus extract was also effective at repelling flies (94%) and midges (100%) for up to six hours.

A preliminary study suggests the combination of eucalyptus and menthol as a nasal inhalant is helpful in cases of mild to moderate snoring.9 Also, in a double-blind trial, a eucalyptus-based rub was found helpful for warming muscles in athletes.10 This further suggests eucalyptus may help relieve minor muscle soreness when applied topically, though studies are needed to confirm this possibility.

Eucalyptus oil oil has been taken orally for catarrh, used as an inhalation and applied as a rubefacient. A plant preparation containing tinctures of various herbs including eucalyptus has been used successfully in the treatment of chronic suppurative otitis.(11) The efficacy of the preparation was attributed to the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of the herbs included.

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Research
"Eucalyptus Oil Relieves Sinusitis"


"Herbs For Winter Woes?"

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Precautions / Contraindications
Eucalyptus may interfere with existing hypoglycaemic therapy. Eucalyptus oil should be diluted before internal or external use.

Pregnancy and Lactation

Eucalyptus oil should not be taken internally during pregnancy.

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Interaction with Medications
Although there are no known reports of drug interactions, the German Commission E monograph suggests that because eucalyptus oil may activate certain enzyme systems in the liver, it may potentially weaken or shorten the action of some medications, including pentobarbital, aminopyrine, and amphetamine.17 18 Eucalyptus should not be used in large amounts by people with low blood pressure as it may cause a further drop in blood pressure.19 The safety of eucalyptus oil has not been established in pregnant or nursing women.

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Possible Side Effects
Externally, eucalyptus oil is stated to be generally non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic. Undiluted eucalyptus oil is toxic and should not be taken internally. A dose of 3.5 mL has proved fatal. Symptoms of poisoning with eucalyptus oil include epigastric burning, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, muscular weakness, miosis, a feeling of suffocation, cyanosis, delirium and convulsions. In large doses, eucalyptus acts as an irritant to the kidneys, by which it is largely excreted, and as a marked nervous depressant ultimately arresting respiration by its action on the medullary centre.

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Dosage
Average Daily Dosage: 4 - 6 g of leaf; equivalent preparations.

Dried Extract: Eucalyptus capsules are generally available in strengths that range from 200 to 600 mg. Within herbal blends, quantities of eucalyptus are significantly smaller. Typically, a capsule strength of 300 to 500 mg is recommended to be taken 3 times daily.

Tincture: Daily dosage 3 - 9 g.

Not all eucalyptus species provide the medically therapeutic oil; look for products containing at least 70% to 85% eucalyptol (cineole).

Eucalyptus oil should always be diluted before applying it topically or ingesting it; always follow package instructions.

For congestion related to colds, cough, flu, asthma, sinusitis, earache, and other types of respiratory conditions, there are three effective treatment approaches:

Make a steam inhalation solution. Add a drop of eucalyptus oil (or two or three leaves) to a pan of water. Bring the water to a boil and remove the pan from the heat. Drape a towel over your head and the pan. Close your mouth and inhale the steam deeply through both nostrils. Blow your nose as frequently as necessary. Repeat twice daily, more frequently for earaches.

Add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil to a commercial steam inhaler. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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Usage
For minor wounds: Clean the wound thoroughly. Mix the diluted eucalyptus oil with an equal quantity of an alcohol-based topical antiseptic and apply a few drops to the affected area. Seek medical attention if signs of infection develop (redness, localized warmth, fever).

For arthritis pain or muscle aches: Rub several drops of well-diluted eucalyptus oil into the skin. Alternatively, soak in an herbal bath made by wrapping a handful of eucalyptus leaves in cheesecloth and allowing the bath water to run through the bundle.

For gum disease: Place a few drops of well-diluted eucalyptus oil onto your fingertip and massage into your gums. Alternatively, purchase a toothpaste containing eucalyptus oil.

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Preparation
Drink two cups of eucalyptus leaf tea daily. Make the tea by pouring one cup (8 ounces) of hot (but not boiling) water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely crushed eucalyptus leaves. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Alternatively, make the tea with eucalyptus tincture, adding the number of drops designated on the label (typically 30 to 45) to an 8-ounce cup of hot water.

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References
1. Wren RC. Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, England: C.W. Daniel Co., 1988, 110-1.
2. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 162-3.
3. Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicines. New York: Haworth Press, 1999, 123.
4. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy, 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998, 146-7.
5. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 232-3.
6. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 108.
7. Gobel H, Schmidt G, Dowarski M, et al. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomed 1995;2:93-102.
8. Trigg JK, Hill N. Laboratory evaluation of a eucalyptus-based insect repellent against four biting arthropods. Phytother Res 1996;10:313-6. Reviewed by Yarnell E. Selected herbal research summaries QRNM 1997;116.
9. Ishizuka Y, Imamura Y, Tereshima K, et al. Effects of nasal inhalation capsule. Oto-Rhino-Laryngology Tokyo 1997;40:9-13.
10. Hong CZ, Shellock FG. Effects of a topically applied counter irritant (Eucalyptamint) on cutaneous blood flow and on skin and muscle temperature: A placebo controlled study. Am J Phys Med Rehab 1991;70:29-33.
11. Shaparenko BA et al. On use of medicinal plants for treatment of patients with chronic suppurative otitis. Zh Ushn Gorl Bolezn 1979; 39: 48-51.

Our thanks to the following information resources: WholehealthMD.com, Botanical.com, MedicinesComplete.com, Vitacost.com, American Botanical Council (Herbalgram.org), and Purplesage.org.

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Eucalyptus - Herbal Plant Supplements

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Expectorant Formula Glycerite Liquid Extract (1:5) - Strawberry Flavored

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Expectorant Formula Glycerite Liquid Extract (1:5) - Mint Flavored

Expectorant Formula Glycerite Liquid Extract (1:5) - Mint Flavored


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