Originally found in Tasmania and Australia but nowadays can also be found in countries around the Mediterranean.
The oil is extracted by steam distillation of the leaves and twigs of the tree.
Most Eucalyptus oil comes from China and is a by-product of the huge trade in Eucalyptus wood in that country. The leaves are collected as soon as they fall to the ground as part of the felling process. The trees are thus harvested all year round.
Analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, depurative, expectorant, prophylactic, stimulant and uplifting.
Eucalyptus has long been recognised for its ability to clear congestion and lessen the symptoms of coughs and colds. When inhaled or burned the antiseptic properties of the oil work to clear infection while the bronchial tubes and nasal passages are also cleared making breathing much easier. It's also vaporised in saunas and used in massage oils (its anti-inflammatory properties are especially effective for athletes before and after exercise or competition to keep muscles in good working order).
The primary way to use Eucalyptus at home is simply to sniff it straight from the bottle or to place a few drops in your favourite burner or vaporiser. Because it's so good at boosting the immune system it's a great oil to keep handy - you can sniff it once or twice a day to ward off infections and colds etc. It's clearing properties also make it a good oil for alleviating asthma (although it should not be used during an asthma attack - it's used to improve the overall ability of the body to deal with asthma), sinusitis, bronchitis and other bugs that cause congestion.
It's a natural antiseptic and has germicidal properties which make it good for use on wounds, cuts, ulcers, insect bites and stings and other skin abrasions. We would always recommend that a professional aromatherapist is consulted before using oils on the skin or cuts etc without dilution. A safer way to apply the oil would be to blend it in a carrier oil such as Sweet Almond or Grapeseed before it's put on the skin.
In massage Eucalyptus is used for treating muscular aches and pains and so is often recommended for those suffering from rheumatism, lumbago, sprained ligaments or tendons, stiff muscles and fibrosis. Dilute to 5% or less in a carrier oil and massage the affected area in a circular motion.
When added to a base cream or lotion Eucalyptus is commonly found in blends aimed at easing skin eruptions, oily skin, acne and as a relieving lotion for chicken pox.
It's also a stimulating oil which is often burned or vaporised to help to lift the mood and banish feelings of mental tiredness. It's also often used to treat stress, depression and other mental disorders.
Around the house, Eucalyptus can be added to your laundry in order to provide a lovely fresh feeling to the finished washing. This makes even more sense when you take in to account the deodorising and antiseptic properties of the oil. It makes a great room freshener, especially during times when there are bugs in the house as it not only clears the atmosphere but can also kill airborne germs and viruses. If you're lucky enough to have a spa or home sauna then you can add Eucalyptus to these too - the rest of us can add a couple of drops to a tablespoon of milk to help it disperse in a lovely warm bath.
Organic version also available.
You may find that Eucalyptus blends particularly well with benzoin, thyme, lavender, lemongrass, lemon and pine.