The eucalyptus has leaves that are leathery in texture hanging obliquely or vertically from its stem. These leaves contain various glands that secret fragrant volatile oil which can be used for various medicinal purposes.
The eucalyptus has flowers, which when in bud are covered with a cup-like membrane, hence the name which means "well-covered". When the flower expands and comes into full bloom, the bud membranes are thrown off as a lid. The eucalyptus fruit is surrounded by a woody, cup-shaped receptacle, containing numerous tiny seeds.
Eucalyptus trees grow quickly. Many of its species grow to a height of 480 feet, exceeding even that of the California giant sequoia. Eucalyptus trees yield timber but they are all the more valuable for the oil they produce. The oils derived from Eucalyptus leaves are roughly divided into three classes of commercial importance, the medicinal oils, the industrial oils, and the aromatic oils.
Oil is extracted from Eucalyptus leaves by aqueous distillation. It is a colorless or straw-colored liquid substance with a characteristic odor and taste and soluble in its own weight of alcohol. Probably the most powerful antiseptic of its class, Eucalyptus oil has decided disinfectant action. It is most effective when its old and it can destroy the lower forms of life.
The most important constituent of Eucalyptus oil is eucalyptol. E. globulus species contains up to 70 per cent of eucalyptol, making it an effective disinfectant.
Internally, Eucalyptus oil acts like a typical volatile oil to a marked degree. It is a stimulant and can be used as an antiseptic gargle. If locally applied, Eucalyptus oil can impair sensibility and increase cardiac action. With its antiseptic properties, the oil from this plant may have some action against malaria but its not as powerful as the more traditional anti-malarial remedy, Cinchona.
Two of the major effects of Eucalyptus are its role in balancing and stimulation. Its middle note aroma, reminiscent of camphorous or woody scents make it an important ingredient in aroma therapy and as a nasal inhalant. Eucalyptus has many medicinal properties, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, and stimulant.
Eucalyptus can be used as an air disinfectant and a decongestant. It is used to fight asthma, bronchitis, treat burns, cuts, flue, and headaches. The strong aroma of eucalyptus acts as an effective insect repellant. It can treat muscle aches, rheumatism, sinusitis, skin ulcers, urinary infections, and wounds.
How to do a Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation allows hot, moist air to enter the respiratory tract. Eucalyptus is known for its decongestant properties. By using the oil as a steam inhalation, your nasal passages and sinuses can be cleared.
To prepare a Eucalyptus steam inhalation, you need the following materials: kettle with boiling water, oil (E. globulus), sheet or large towel, and large bowl or container.
Once you have all these, carefully pour about 4-6 cubs of boiling water from the kettle into the large bowl. Then, add three drops of oil. Hold your head over the bowl, eyes looking down on it. Next, cover your head with the sheet or towel. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Do this for about 15 minutes until your nasal passages are cleared.