Common names: Blue Gum, Gum Tree, Fever Tree, Red Gum, Stringy Bark Tree
Range: Native to Australia and Tasmania. Now cultivated in America, southern Europe, Asia and Africa.
History: Eucalytpus was introduced to the world by the German botanist Baron Ferdinand von Müller, who believed that its volatile oils could be useful as a disinfectant in areas where fever was present. As a result, many of these areas now support patches of eucalyptus trees. It is also reputed that mosquitoes are thwarted in proximity of the tree. And, in Sicily, the trees are planted to deter malaria.
In vitro, eucalyptus oil has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal properties. The standardized drug (80-90% cineole) inhibits prostaglandin synthesis and is useful as an expectorant and surfactant. It is also a mild antispasmodic. The oil is approved by the Commission E to treat rheumatism, cough and bronchitis.
Constituents: 1,8-cineol (at least 80%), p-cymene, alpha-pinenes, limonene, camphene, geraniol.
Cautions: Not for pediatric use. The oil should never be applied to the face area of a young child as this can lead to bronchial spasms or trigger asthma attacks, possibly even death by asphyxiation. Internal use can rarely cause vomiting and diarrhea. It should not be used if liver or gastric disorders are present.