August 2007
The Herb Farm

Eucalyptus Oils

 
  Eucalyptus plant

I first started using Eucalyptus oil more than twenty years ago as an antiseptic. A friend of mine saw me put some mineral spirits on a cut that I got on my arm while we were overhauling one of my tractors at the old farm. I had been using mineral spirits for years to stop the pain of cuts and the itching caused by poison oak or bee stings. My friend told me to use the oil of Eucalyptus instead because the petroleum distillates were getting into my body through the skin and that was a bad thing. I bought some at the drug store and I have been sold on it ever since.

Eucalyptus oils come from distilling the leaves of certain Eucalyptus trees. These trees are not limited to the following: Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus cinerea and sometimes the Eucalyptus citriodora is used to make lemon Eucalyptus oil.

Extracts of Eucalyptus are used to make cough drops and throat lozenges, bath salts, antiseptics and other products like potpourri and perfumes for insect repellants.

The trees are indigenous to Australia. I have read reports of over three hundred species; and one report even claims that there are over seven hundred species. The reason for this discrepancy is because it is known that the trees and shrubs grow so close together in the groves that they cross and produce new species.

They say that the oils are flammable and trees have reportedly burst into flames. Lightening causes the regeneration of Eucalyptus stands. In some areas where the Eucalyptus grows wild, the oils rise from the trees, forming a fragrant blue haze across the lands.

This plant grows fairly well where I am, even though it’s only supposed to be hardy in zones 9 and 10. I have one tree that I have to keep cut back because it is in a fifteen gallon pot that I bring into my living room in the winter time to help deodorize the air inside the house.

I grow new plants from cuttings. I also sell some of the foliage from the silver dollar varieties to a local florist. There is always enough of the fresh cuttings to keep an arrangement in my kitchen and when company is coming over, I will steep a stock pot full.

The Eucalyptus oil is available at your neighborhood drug store or at the health food store. Be careful using it because some people may be allergic, or at least sensitive, to the pure extract. Be sure to read and understand the label on the bottle.

 If you have any questions about other uses for tea-tree oil, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll tell you all I know.

As always, check with an expert, such as your doctor, before using this or any other herbal remedy.