Eucalyptus oil has been used for many years for its decongestant properties as well as for the treatment of colds and coughs. How can a plant be such a strong ally for our immune system?
What is eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a tree that has many species and belongs to the Myrtaceae family. In Australia, eucalyptus is the main food of koalas, while in traditional Aboriginal medicine it has been used as an antiseptic to kill germs and treat bacterial and fungal infections. Main actions of eucalyptus are summarized as follows:
- Antiseptic action
- Antibacterial action
- Anti-inflammatory action
- Mucolytic properties
- Healing properties
The oil of eucalyptus is rich in a substance called cineole, which has antibacterial properties. It also contains high concentrations of flavonoids and tannins, which give antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, respectively.
Uses and Indications
Eucalyptus oil is available in various forms and products, including creams, ointnments, decongestants sprays and syrups. Fresh or dry eucalyptus leaves can be used to make tea or liquid extracts.
In addition, numerous health and care products contain eucalyptus oil and cineole, the main active ingredient of eucalyptus, such as anti-cough syrups, mouthwashes, essential oils, dental tootpastes, capsules and relieving creams.
Eucalyptus is used in creams and balms for the chest as also in nasal sprays with strong decongestant and mucolytic properties. Eucalyptus helps in better breathing, thus facilitating people with intense cough, cold, flu and bronchitis.
According to laboratory studies, cineole has a bacteriostatic effect, helping to fight bacterial infections. For this reason it is widely used in toothpastes, gels and mouthwashes for the protection and treatment of dental plaque and gingivitis.
Treatment of cough and cold
Eucalyptus has decongestant and mucolytic properties. Thanks to the above properties, many candies for sore throat, cough syrups and essential oils contain eucalyptus. In herbal medicine, leaves of eucalyptus are used for gargle or tea to relieve sore throat as well as to treat bronchitis and sinusitis.
Contraindications – precautions
Eucalyptus oil should not be put in children under 2 years of age. Eucalyptus syrups should not be used by children under 6 years of age. The use of oil is safe from adults for application to the skin, however it should not be taken orally or in direct contact with the face, as it is toxic.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use eucalyptus in any form. People suffering from asthma, liver and kidney disease, have low blood pressure or seizures should consult their doctor first,before taking eucalyptus.