Eucalyptus Leaves: Benefits and Words of Caution
With their amazing medicinal properties, herbalists and those seeking homeopathic remedies are turning to eucalyptus leaves to relieve a variety of ailments. Even though eucalyptus leaves are native to Australia, eucalyptus leaves can be found in many subtropical regions of the world. The eucalyptus leaves have been used by the Australian aborigines to help fight fevers and to extract drinking water from the roots.
Eucalyptus leaves are used in many supplements and can be purchased at nutrition centers. The oil is extracted from the leaves and used as an aide to help relieve symptoms of bronchitis and nasal congestion. It has been likened to menthol because of the way it acts upon the body. It targets the receptors on the nasal mucosa, which is how it helps to alleviate nasal congestion. The dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree can be made into a tea, which may be drank or gargled to relieve chest and nasal congestion, sore throat, or bronchitis. Some people also take the dried eucalyptus leaves, roll them into cigarettes, and smoke them to help relieve asthma. This releases a compound known as pyridine, which helps to regulate the body’s systems, reducing the intense longing to breathe in deeply and normalizing the heartbeat. It actually induces sleep in many immediately after breathing it in, which is normal. Finally, an infusion of the leaves has been recommended to help regulate the amount of insulin in the body of diabetic individuals.
Eucalyptus leaves have many external uses as well. The leaves have antiseptic, warming, anti-bacterial, and anesthetic properties. They can be used to treat burns, sores, ulcers, and other types of wounds on the body. The essential oil can also be rubbed into the skin to provide relief for arthritis pain and stiffness. It can even be used as an insect repellent, and it works particularly well for mosquitoes and fleas. When warmed, the smell of the eucalyptus oil works well to relieve chest congestion.
Uses in the Home
The pleasant smell of eucalyptus leaves has more uses in the home than just as a natural home deodorizer. The smell of eucalyptus has been shown to repel insects, including fleas. You may use the leaves themselves, placed in strategic locations around your home, or you can use the essential oil as well. Be sure that the oil and the leaves are out of reach of children and pets. They can also be used dried in flower arrangements, and they give off a nice, clean smell unique to the eucalyptus tree.
One myth commonly heard about eucalyptus leaves is that you cannot safely add them to a compost pile, because it will inhibit the future growth of plants in that soil. This is unfounded. Eucalyptus leaves can safely be added to a compost pile, as the essential oils do dissipate within a few days. This myth was most likely brought about because little grows under the actual eucalyptus tree. However, it should be noted that the tree drops a large number of leaves, which blanket the ground and would choke out any plant growth.
Because eucalyptus appears to be difficult to eliminate from the kidneys, it is not recommended for internal use in people with a history of kidney or liver problems. It is also not recommended for seniors, children, women who are pregnant, and persons with low blood pressure. Because of the toxicity issues, no one should take eucalyptus internally for more than a few days in a row. As a short term homeopathic remedy, however, it has proven to be effective in healthy individuals.