« back to list of herbs


Eases congestion, relieves muscle soreness, treats minor cuts

If you've ever used Listerine, Vicks VapoRub, Dristan Nasal Decongestant Spray or Hall's Mentho-Lyptus Cough Suppressants, you're undoubtedly familiar with the unique, refreshing scent of eucalyptus. And if you've ever seen a koala, you've also seen a eucalyptus tree, because its long, scythe-shaped leaves are the sole food source for the cute, furry critter.

Australia's indigenous aborigines used eucalyptus to treat fever, cough and asthma — and European settlers quickly adopted it as medicine. For a time, doctors thought eucalyptus could cure malaria, and they called it the Australian fever tree. Alas, that use didn't pan out, but eucalyptus leaf oil does contain a chemical, eucalyptol, that has decongestant and antiseptic action.

"Eucalyptol is a very effective decongestant," says Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacognosy at Purdue University School of Pharmacy in West Lafayette, Indiana, and author of The Honest Herbal. "It loosens phlegm in the chest, making it easier to cough up. That's why so many decongestants, cough lozenges and chest rubs contain it."

"Eucalyptol also kills several types of bacteria and viruses," says Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., director of the American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, and author of The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. After minor wounds have been washed, eucalyptus oil or clean crushed leaves can be applied to help prevent infection.

Recently, a new eucalyptus product, Eucalyptamint, has been promoted as a treatment for muscle soreness. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine tested the ointment and discovered that it increases blood flow to muscle tissue, lending credence to the product's claims.

Putting the herb to work

To brew a pleasant-tasting medicinal tea, use one to two teaspoons of dried, crushed leaves per cup of boiling water. Steep ten minutes. Drink up to two cups a day. When using commercial products, follow the package directions.

If you live in Australia or in the American South or on the West Coast and have access to eucalyptus leaves, place a handful in boiling water and inhale the steamy vapor. For an herbal bath, wrap a handful of leaves in a cloth and run bathwater over it.

You can use a few drops of eucalyptus oil in boiling water or in the bath as an inhalant, but never ingest the oil. When the oil is taken internally, it is highly poisonous. Fatalities have been reported from ingestion of as little as a teaspoonful.

Eucalyptus oil is considered nonirritating to the skin, but sensitive individuals may develop a rash. If your skin gets red or irritated from the oil, discontinue use.

Like this page? Please link to us and let the world know!

^ back to top

© 2014 OrganicFoodee.com All Rights Reserved. Website by: Get Lucas