Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today the spotlight is on eucalyptus!
Eucalyptus is a native plant of Australia where there are over 700 varieties. Aboriginal people considered them a general “cure-all” and the trees have been utilized for paper, mulch, fuel, as windbreakers and for fighting malaria. Because it has an extensive root system it can absorb large quantities of water and so it was intentionally planted in marshy, malaria infested areas to dry up the soil. The plant is also a good example of why humans have to be careful introducing non-native species. In the 1850’s during the California Gold Rush, thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees were planted in the state. Since the climate is similar to parts of Australia, the hope was that it could serve as a renewable source of timber for all sorts of construction including railroad ties for an ever expanding railroad system. However the timber wasn’t suitable for railroad ties as the wood has a tendency to twist when drying. Unfortunately eucalyptus trees release compounds which inhibit other plant species from growing nearby, it’s an invasive species and a fire hazard in a state plagued by drought and wildfires.
All that said, eucalyptus has some wonderful health and wellness benefits and has been used from ancient to modern times for respiratory ailments like bronchitis, coughs and flu. During World War 1, the oil was in high demand to help control a meningitis outbreak and as a treatment during the terrible influenza breakout in 1919. The plant is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, plus it’s a natural decongestant. Studies have shown that for people suffering from non-bacterial sinusitis, symptoms improve faster when given medicine containing eucalyptus oil. It’s also used as a remedy for sore throats and can provide relief when mixed with warm water and used as a gargle solution.
With it’s cool and refreshing smell, eucalyptus has also been used to do away with sluggishness and promote mental alertness. For those suffering from asthma, massaging a few drops onto the chest and inhaling the vapors helps to calm the throat and dilate blood vessels allowing more oxygen into the lungs. The oil is also useful in dental care, the treatment of lice, as a foot deodorizer and skin coolant and for sore muscles. Below are links to some ways to incorporate eucalyptus into your wellness routine.