The Eucalyptus Tree and Its Many Uses


The Eucalyptus tree is a well-known tree in the world, the eucalyptus tree has been known to have so many benefits. This article will talk about some of the most common use-cases.  Before we do, let’s take a quick look at learning a little bit more about the eucalyptus tree, starting with its origin. 

What is the origin of the Eucalyptus Tree?

The Genus Eucalyptus consists of over 650 species of trees and shrubs. Australia is well known to harbor a majority of eucalyptus as most of the species present in the world are said to have originated there. The many numbers of species are highly favored by the soils and climatic conditions of the Australian continent. Eucalypti are commonly referred to as gum trees or stringybark trees. Apart from Australia, many species are cultivated extensively in temperate regions in a forest.  

How does a Eucalyptus Tree look like?

Eucalyptus trees are tall, slender, have broad, waxy, lanced-shaped leaves and stringy barks. their leaves are grey-green or blue-green. In the summer, mature eucalyptus trees may also produce petalless flowers. The main stems shed their barks from time to time (yearly) creating a compelling pattern. The colors of these trunks vary from white, cream, and shades of grey with sometimes pink or orange tints. This is not only for beauty as it serves as a physical adaptation. This helps the tree withstand droughts. Also, each species has features unique to it, which helps to better adapt to its surroundings, and some may be different as they have brightly colored flowers. They are fast-growing evergreen trees that look attractive all around the year which are brought about by their decorative foliage and bark.

The most cultivated eucalyptus is the cider gum which can be cut back to the ground yearly to bushy shrubs and can tolerate hard pruning. In this state, it produces young leaves, which are known to be used in floral arrangements. Other species of eucalyptus include; the snow gum(Eucalyptus niphophila), which are small growing eucalyptus, and the round-leaved snow gum (Eucalyptus perriniana).

Eucalyptus trees have become a point of interest as their demand rises exponentially because of the many benefits this tree offers. The leaves, bark, and even the oil obtained from the eucalyptus tree have gone a long way to assist humans in many ways. Below are some of those benefits of the eucalyptus tree.

Health Benefits of the Eucalyptus Tree

In this part of the article, we’ll be focusing on three of the most important parts of the eucalyptus tree and their major benefits. This lt will include the eucalyptus oil, the tea gotten from its tree leaves, and also the bark of the tree.

1. Eucalyptus oil:

Fig. 1 Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil is obtained after the process of extraction by steam distillation of the leaves of the plant. Transporting eucalyptus leaves is a labor-intensive process; hence most of the process is usually carried out close to the harvest area. The chief component of eucalyptus oil is eucalyptol. Eucalyptol makes up 90% of eucalyptus oil and has a fresh mint-like smell with a spicy cooling taste. Eucalyptol is a bicyclic ether that is colorless and insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. Because of the presence of eucalyptol in eucalyptus oil, eucalyptus oil has the following benefits;

Benefits of Eucalyptus oil

  • Cold and cough remedy

Eucalyptol, an ingredient found in eucalyptus oil, is essential in the production of cold and cough products. Eucalyptol, also known as cineole, is responsible for relieving cold symptoms such as frequent cough, nasal congestion, and even headache. When drugs containing eucalyptol are consumed, any inflammation and mucus build-up along the respiratory tracts is reduced. It also leads to the relaxation of bronchi and bronchioles of the lungs, thereby making the individual feel better.

  • Skin dryness

Ceramides are fatty acids in the skin, responsible for maintaining skin moisture and barrier. Ceramides are usually low in people experiencing skin disorders. Applying eucalyptus ointments will go in a long way in improving skin disorders. Eucalyptus oil contains the enzyme macrocarpa A and has been proven to boost ceramide levels.

  • Hair loss

Hair loss could be caused by various factors, such as genetics, medical conditions, hormonal changes, etc.

Palmetto, found in eucalyptus oil, prevents the action of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into another sex hormone known as; dihydrotestosterone(DHT), thus preventing hair loss.

  • Relaxation

Eucalyptus oil has a calming effect on the body. When inhaled, eucalyptol possesses anti-anxiety properties that decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system to promote relaxation.

  • Repellants

The higher the eucalyptol content, the greater its repellant nature. The leaves of eucalyptus trees repel bugs. The repellants produced are mosquito feeding and ovipositional. An example includes; 1,8 cineole.

  • Anti-bacterial

The antibacterial properties of eucalyptus oil make it a good cleanser, particularly for treating certain skin infections and acne. Eucalyptus oil’s antibacterial properties have been used to treat infections like; boils, bacterial dermatitis, herpes (cold sores), chickenpox, and fungal infections.

  • Skin Diseases

Skin diseases like eczema have been cured by eucalyptus oil. Though scientists have not yet determined the real cause of eczema, it is agreed that an overactive immune system triggered by particular allergens would cause skin inflammation. Some symptoms include itching and dry, scaly, or cracked skin. With an increase in eczema concentration, the body produces a surplus of enzymes, COX-2 enzyme in particular. It has been shown that anti-inflammatory compounds found in eucalyptus oil are effective in reducing levels of this enzyme CO-2.

  • Wound Disinfectant

The Australian indigenous used eucalyptus leaves to treat wounds and prevent infection. However, the diluted oil may still be used today on the skin to fight inflammation and promote healing. One can purchase ointments or creams that contain eucalyptus oil. These products may be used on minor burns or other injuries that could be treated in the confines of the home.

  • Blood Sugar

Eucalyptus oil is potentially a treatment for diabetes (Diabetes mellitus). Although the severity of its action is unclear, experts believe that it could play a role in reducing blood sugar in persons with diabetes.

Researchers are yet to find out how the oil works. But until more can be known about the true potential of eucalyptus oil, persons with diabetes are recommended to carry out thorough and careful monitoring for persons who have diabetes.

  • Joint pain

Researchers suggest that eucalyptus oil relieves joint pain. Many popular creams and ointments used to ease pain in conditions like Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis contain this oil.

Eucalyptus oil aids in the reduction of pain and inflammation associated with many conditions. It could also be helpful to persons who experience back pain or those recovering from a joint or muscle injury. It will be a wise decision to seek your doctor’s permission to know whether the oil is safe to consume.

  • Breathing

Inhaling steam with added eucalyptus oil serves as a remedy to respiratory conditions such as asthma and sinusitis. The oil reacts directly with mucous membranes, which reduces mucus and helps loosen it so that it may be coughed up.

There exist possibilities that eucalyptus blocks asthma symptoms, but this may worsen the asthmatic conditions for persons who are allergic to it. More research is needed to explain how eucalyptus affects people with asthma.

2. Eucalyptus Tea

Fig. 2: Eucalyptus Tea

Eucalyptus tea is a herbal tea made from the eucalyptus tree’s leaves (Eucalyptus globulus), grown in southern Australia. This tea is usually drunk hot and used to treat diseases such as cold or flu.

There exist different species of the eucalyptus tree. Still, the particular tree commonly used in preparing eucalyptus tea and eucalyptus oil from its leaves is the Tasmanian blue gum tree(Eucalyptus globulus) or the Australian fever tree. This fast-growing tree produces leathery, long grey-greenish leaves.  

Eucalyptus tea is processed from the ground leaves of the tree and not from the oil that is extracted from the leaves. To avoid any confusion, the warm drink is sometimes referred to as eucalyptus leaves tea. You should take note of the differences between eucalyptus leaf and oil as the result of consuming the latter could be fatal.

Eucalyptus tea usually has a pale green color and a strong scent that some people describe as woody or almost pine-like. Others describe the scent of the tea as clean or fresh. The scent of eucalyptus is familiar to many consumers since many products like; lip balms, lotion, cosmetics, and skin creams are made with eucalyptus, the scent is familiar to many consumers.

Dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree are processed to come out with a rich eucalyptus tea, which is a great source of antioxidants (a substance that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents which could come from deteriorating food substances).

Eucalyptus being rich in anti-oxidizing agents such as isorhamnetin and flavonoids will go a long way in protecting the human system against cancer and heart diseases. It should also be noted that eucalyptus tea is not very suitable for consumption by kids below the age of 10 years unless prescribed by a medical practitioner. This is because if ingested orally by children, they can be harmful, even life-threatening.

A majority of scientific research is focused on the health benefits of eucalyptus oil rather than eucalyptus tea. The oil is more concentrated in composition than the tea is, so one is more likely to gain more by consuming the oil than by consuming the tea.

However, according to a study published in recent years, the leaves are known to contain enzymes such as flavonoids and tannins that provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefits 

Eucalyptus tea is commonly used to subdue common colds or flu as an inhalant. The tea vapors inhaled from the hot tea are often described as healing because inhaling them helps to open up congested airways along the windpipe. According to the American Lung Association, no tangible evidence to recommend the use of eucalyptus for cold symptoms has been presented.

Added to treatment for the common cold, people use eucalyptus to obtain several other health benefits like treatment of asthma, treatment for bronchitis, reduction of dental plaque and bad breath, treatment for diabetes, eliminating head lice, avoiding insect bites, getting rid of headaches, treating liver and gallbladder issues.

The strong scents of eucalyptus tree leaves are also used in the manufacturing of home products such as candles and potpourri, as many people like the fragrance. Toothpaste, mouthwash, bath products, and body creams made with eucalyptus are also commonly found in home goods stores.

3. Eucalyptus Bark

Fig. 4: Bark of a Eucalyptus Tree

Most trees shed bark as new layers develop and mature beneath the older, dead bark, and the eucalyptus tree is no exception. Unlike other trees, the process of developing new bark in eucalyptus trees is observed by a colorful and dramatic display on the tree’s trunk.

The bark of every eucalyptus tree sheds yearly. The barks come off as long strips or flakes in smooth bark type whereas, in rough bark eucalyptus, there is difficulty in shedding the bark. The bark accumulates in small regions, stringing the masses of the tree, and then sheds off. Shedding the barks also helps maintain the tree’s health as it also sheds off any mosses, lichens, fungi, and parasites attached to its bark. Some barks can perform photosynthesis and transpire, hence contributing to the tree’s overall health and rapid growth.  

Even though the peeling bark on eucalyptus is a big part of the tree’s cycle, it is a mixed blessing as a large amount of energy is also lost during this process.

The bark of the eucalyptus trees is important to the tree and a very valuable good in markets. Below are some benefits of eucalyptus bark to man.

Benefits 

Eucalyptus is a tree that serves several purposes with almost all its parts (from its flowers, wood, leaves, including its bark) having benefits.

The bark and wood of the eucalyptus tree release a reddish substance which is similar to gum, known as keno, which has a primary function to protect the wood from maggots. Keno is also an ingredient present in many medicines, and it helps lotting blood from bleeding faster. (hastening the formation of clots).

In addition, a unique blend based on Egyptian cotton mixed with cellulose fibers obtained from the pulp of eucalyptus wood is used to produce fabrics. Active compounds such as seaweed extract and zinc oxide obtained from eucalyptus fiber are firmly embedded through a patented process.

The bark of Eucalyptus is also used to dye fabrics and tan leather.

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