The Mighty Eucalyptus Leaves: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects!
Eucalyptus refers to a genus of hundreds of species of flowering shrubs and trees in the myrtle family. Eucalyptus is cultivated for honey production, pulpwood, and for essential oils.
The majority of the species of eucalyptus are native to Australia and only a small number are found outside the continent. Eucalyptus is commercially cultivated in other countries because they grow quickly and produce valuable timber which is used to produce essential oils, honey, and pulpwood, amongst other things.
Benefits of Eucalyptus:
Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties- Eucalyptus leaves exhibit anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. For centuries, eucalyptus leaves have been used in traditional medicine to wound heals and treat a variety of skin conditions like insect bites, cracked heels and feet, dry skin, insect bites, and cold sores. Eucalyptus oil made for medicinal uses has a moisturizing effect and is soothing to the skin. Eucalyptus extract is also used to make mouthwashes and toothpaste because it removes harmful bacteria from the mouth.
Treats dry skin and scalp- Eucalyptus improves dry skin by increasing the production of ceramide, a fatty acid present in our skin that is responsible for maintaining the barrier against pollutants and retaining the skin’s moisture levels. Studies indicate that people who suffer from conditions like psoriasis, dandruff, and dermatitis usually show lower ceramide levels. When applied to the scalp, eucalyptus reduces scaliness, redness, and scalp dryness.
Reduce pain and stress- Eucalyptus exhibits anti-inflammatory properties since it contains compounds such as cineole and limonene, which decrease pain when applied as a topical. It also helps with blood circulation in the wounded area. Inhaling eucalyptus oil can also decrease symptoms of stress as it has a calming effect on the body. That is why eucalyptus oil is used in aromatherapy.
Uses of Eucalyptus:
Air freshener- The eucalyptus leaves can be used to make an air freshener. Eucalyptus leaves emit a beautiful earthy smell that can envelop any small place easily. Air freshener made from dried eucalyptus leaves can last anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks.
Cold medicine- Studies show that the plant compounds present in the eucalyptus help decrease cough frequency, nasal congestion, and headache by decreasing mucus build-up and by expanding the bronchioles of our lungs. Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled to provide relief to cold symptoms and can even be applied as a topical. However, one must practice caution while using eucalyptus oil as it can be toxic when consumed and when applied in large doses.
Household cleaning- Eucalyptus is used to make several household cleanings products such as soaps, cleansers, spot and stain removers, laundry detergent, and garden spray. Eucalyptus has a very soothing and pleasant aroma, and it also exhibits strong cleansing abilities. It can remove tough stains left by oil, ink, and gum from carpets and soiled clothes easily. It also helps repel pests from your house and garden.
Insect repellent- Eucalyptus oil when applied as a topical on the skin can effectively ward off mosquitos and other insects. Some studies show that it is also an effective topical to treat head lice.
Side effects of Eucalyptus:
Eucalyptus oil and leaves can have certain side effects-
Consuming more than the recommended quality of eucalyptus or ingesting pure eucalyptus oil by mouth is unsafe. Eucalyptol is a chemical found in eucalyptus that can be toxic in large amounts. Eucalyptus poisoning can lead to nausea, diarrhoea, muscle weakness, dizziness, stomach pain, drowsiness, and excessive vomiting.
Some people can be allergic to the eucalyptus plant, leaves, and oil. These people might experience irritation, discomfort, and rashes on their skin when eucalyptus oil is applied as a topical. Applying undiluted eucalyptus oil has similar effects as well.
Eucalyptus can also negatively interact with certain medications. Therefore, talk to your doctor before using eucalyptus.
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