Sometime in the summer of 2014, I was hosting a dinner party at my house. By the end of the evening, it was just my friends Patrick and Bob and myself remaining.
We were standing around my dining room table just shooting the breeze. Suddenly, Bob started having an asthma attack. I immediately knew what to do. I raced over to my refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of my Plant Therapy eucalyptus globulus essential oil.
I then told Bob to open his hands. I placed just a few drops of the oil on one of his hands, told him to rub them together and cup them over his nose. Dude, you should’ve seen the expression of relief, joy and amazement on his face. It was priceless. Eucalyptus stopped the asthma attack right in its tracks. He couldn’t believe it.
In this article I’ll talk about the healing powers of eucalyptus essential oil, as well as safety precautions and highlight some of the differences among the variety of species of this plant.
There are several hundred different species of the eucalyptus plant in existence. In aromatherapy, there are four types that are most commonly used. Eucalyptus globulus is by far the most common. Eucalyptus radiata and eucalyptus citriodora are less frequently used.
Eucalyptus globulus is known for its ability to relieve bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, sinusitis, muscle aches and pains, headaches, asthma, insect bites, rashes, sore throat, etc. (1)
In fact, the scent of eucalyptus always brings me back to my childhood. I have memories of my mother putting Vicks Vaporub on my throat when I was ill. Eucalyptus globulus is very strong and caution should be exercised when working with children and the elderly, and anyone with a medical condition, such as epilepsy. (2)
There are alternatives to eucalyptus globulus. Eucalyptus radiata is a better choice for children and the elderly because it is milder. Radiata can relieve many of the same symptoms as globulus and is gentler on the skin and respiratory system. It is good for long term use with chronic respiratory infection and works well on viral or bacterial infections. (3), (4)
A third species is eucalyptus citriodora, also known as lemon eucalyptus. This oil is indicated for chest infections, fungal infections, sores, wounds, asthma, sore throat, fever, skin infections, arthritis, and many more. It is also used as an insect repellent. (5)
Yet another species of eucalyptus essential oil is eucalyptus smithii. It is another gentler alternative to the globulus species. It is the mildest of the available eucalyptus essential oils, and therefore quite suitable for children and the elderly. (6), (7)
To recap, eucalyptus is a highly indispensable component in one’s arsenal of essential oils. Before buying, ask yourself who you intend on using it for. Your decision will depend on whether it is for adults, children, elderly, or those with medical conditions. Also, eucalyptus is quite effective when diffused into the air for respiratory health. For topical application, I recommend that eucalyptus be diluted in a carrier oil for local massage only in affected areas, as with sore muscles, or for treatment of minor skin ailments such as sores or infections.
(1), (3), (5) Essential Aromatherapy: a pocket guide to essential oils & aromatherapy. Susan Worwood & Valerie Ann Worwood. 2003. pp. 130-132.