Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) trees are common in South Africa, where they're most frequently referred to as "blue gum" or "bloekom".
Traditionally, the Australian Aborigines have many uses for this tree and its oil, but the science is inconclusive on its safety and efficacy.
Relieves coughs, colds and sore throat
Clears up sinus problems and catarrh (runny nose)
Relieves aches, pains and stiffness
Antiseptic (used for cleaning wounds)
Stimulates local blood flow
Eucalyptus was first used by the Australian aborigines, who chewed the roots for water in the dry outback and used the leaves as a fever remedy. The leaves are also a favourite food of koala bears.
To treat chest infections or sinus congestion, rub the diluted essential oil onto the chest or along the sinus and nose.
A steam inhalation can be made by using a handful of leaves or a few drops of essential oil.
Important: Do not take the essential oil internally without professional supervision. Small amounts of oil taken by mouth have resulted in severe and deadly reactions.
Some people may also experience allergic reactions with topical use of Eucalyptus oil.
Eucalyptus should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
(Information source: The American Pharmaceutical Association's Practical Guide to Natural Medicines by Andrea Peirce, published by William Morrow and Company, 1999.)
(Image: Forest and Kim Starr)
- (Updated by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, August 2010)