The eucalyptus tree is commonly associated with koala bears, as eucalyptus leaves are their primary source of food. Most of the 700 varieties of eucalyptus grow like trees while others grow like shrubs. The tree goes by several nicknames such as Fever-Tree, Blue Gum Tree and Stringy Bark Tree, depending on its location in the world. Despite the diversity of eucalyptus varieties, they share common characteristics including their fresh, crisp, and camphoraceous scents, which are sometimes further described as having hints of lemon, peppermint, or woody nuances. The shared trait that they are best known for, however, is the beneficial healing properties of their leaves, which have made this tree's essential oils widely used as a traditional and natural medicine for centuries. It was first used by the Aboriginal people of Australia, who referred to it as "kino". They used it to heal wounds, treat body pains, colds, sinus congestions, and fevers, hence the nickname Fever-Tree.
Even though Australia is the origin and the leading source of eucalyptus oil, the eucalyptus tree and its essential oil production spread to other parts of the world including Brazil, Europe, Greece, China, and India. It was used in Chinese, Greek, European, and Ayurvedic medicine. Of the 700 species of eucalyptus throughout the world, approximately 500 of them produce essential oil, and global eucalyptus oil production is mainly from the eucalyptus globulus species, more commonly known as 'Blue Gum'. In the 1880s, surgeons began using eucalyptus oil in operations due to its antiseptic properties. Today, eucalyptus continues to be a favourite essential oil that is used in vapour rubs, rash creams, inhalers, ointments, and in dental hygiene products to support the respiratory system, to enhance oral health, and to soothe physical discomforts.
Eucalyptus essential oil has plenty of uses, ranging from medicinal, odorous and cosmetic. When you inhale the scent of eucalyptus oil, brain receptors process the smell as refreshing. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus in your shower promotes a sense of vitality. Eucalyptus' expectorant properties make it useful in facilitating the relief of congestion and respiratory tract infections. For relief from congestion, mix a few drops in a steaming bowl of hot water and lean over it to inhale the aromatic vapours with a towel draped over the head and deep bowl for a few minutes. The eyes should be closed to prevent irritation.
As a disinfecting air spray, eucalyptus essential oil acts as a natural, anti-microbial, non-toxic air freshener that removes bacteria, viruses, and mould from the environment. Once diluted with water, this spray can freshen the room and eliminate the body odours trapped in shoes and sports gear. Create a surface cleaning agent by combining eucalyptus with lemon and peppermint essential oils. Once combined, dilute the blend with water before using it on kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
When diluted with a carrier oil, it can be used topically in a moisturiser or massage oil. Eucalyptus' stimulating properties may help to revitalise skin and tired muscles. It is known to have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can provide relief to minor burns, sores, bites, and cuts by decreasing pain, inhibiting bleeding, eliminating bacteria from the wound, and promoting the closing of scars.
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