Eucalyptus is a species of flowering trees and shrubs. Its leaves are covered in oil glands and this provides most of the health benefits of the plant.
There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and most of them are native to Australia and New Zealand. A very small number of them can also be found in New Guinea and Indonesia.
Eucalyptus species are widely cultivated in tropical and temperate zones. Due to the limited cold tolerance of eucalyptus, the range over which they can be cultivated in a temperate zone is restricted.
Eucalyptus is also known as Blue Gum, because of the discharge of huge amounts of scribbly gum from any break in its bark.
Numerous species of eucalyptus have attracted a lot of attention from horticulturists, environmentalists, and researchers.
Useful Parts In A Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus was introduced to the rest of the world following the Cook expedition to Australia in 1770. Due to its widespread uses, eucalyptus has become an economically important plant.
The parts of eucalyptus utilized are;
1. Pulpwood: Eucalyptus is the most common short fiber source used to make pulp. It has short fiber length and is uniform with low coarseness when compared to other sources of pulpwood. Thus it is great for producing fine paper, providing high opacity and uniformity.
The low coarseness contributes to its uniformity and the short fibers give a high number of fibers per gram. Commonly used species for paper making are Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus urophylla.
2. Oil: Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from the eucalyptus leaves. This oil can be used for cleaning purposes, as an industrial solvent, an antiseptic, etc. It also has insect repellent properties and is also used as a major ingredient in mosquito repellents. The most common species grown for its oil is Eucalyptus globulus.
3. Nectar: Some eucalyptus nectar can be used to produce high-quality monofloral honey. This is often stored and labeled separately to command a premium price.
4. Leaves: The leaves of eucalyptus, apart from being used in extracting the oil, are also used in teas and air fresheners.
5. Wood: The foremost use of the trees is their wood due to their fast growth. They can even be chopped off at their roots and they still grow back again. This wood can then be used as ornaments, timber, firewood, and pulpwood.
Below are various benefits and uses of eucalyptus;
15 Benefits And Uses Of Eucalyptus
1. Respiratory Problems
Eucalyptus is an ingredient in various preparations for cold inhalants and lozenges. It can help to loosen the phlegm and ease congestion from cold. The essential oils, extracted from eucalyptus, have been traditionally used to treat cold infections. They usually serve as an alternative remedy to issues such as stuffy nose and runny nose.
2. Healthier Hair
Using a few drops of eucalyptus oil with coconut oil can do wonders for your dry scalp and provide the hair with a healthy-looking and moisturized sheen. This also protects the head from hair lice.
3. Bad Breath And Dental Hygiene
Eucalyptus oil, due to its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, is present in numerous dental hygiene products like mouthwashes and toothpaste in the market. Eucalyptus oil can help inhibit the building up of plaque on your teeth and can also help fight against the germs that cause bad breath.
4. Fungal Infections, Burns And Cuts
Due to its antiseptic properties, the plant can be used in reducing the risk of infection and can help accelerate the process of healing.
5. Pain Relief
Eucalyptus has analgesic properties which help alleviate muscle and joint pains. An oil massage can be soothing and can be used to treat strains, sprains, backache, etc.
Consuming medicinal tea made from dried eucalyptus leaves can help ease aches and pains as well as protect the heart. The tea is often recommended to people suffering from asthma, chronic muscle pain, and arthritis. In the case of mild injuries, it can help alleviate the pain quickly due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Reduces Stress And Anxiety
The soothing nature of eucalyptus tea provides relief to people suffering from chronic stress.
8. Insect Repellent
Eucalyptus oil is used as an insect repellent and could form a part of insecticides. The property of eucalyptus to draw tremendous amounts of water from the soil has been utilized to decrease malaria in Algeria, Sicily, California by draining water from the soil. The drainage helps remove swamps which are the natural habitats for mosquito larvae.
Furthermore, a study showed that a mixture of 32 percent lemon eucalyptus oil provided more than 95 percent protection against mosquitoes for three hours.
9. For Animals
Eucalyptus branches can often be used to create perches for birds and can often be used to surround the bird nests. The insect repellent properties, of eucalyptus, ensure that the birdhouses remain free of mites and ticks. The essential oil from the tree contains strong disinfectants and can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. But some animal species such as koalas and some possums are tolerant to them, and hence are able to eat from the eucalyptus plant.
All parts of eucalyptus can be used to create dyes that work really well with protein fibers such as silk, wool, etc. A range of colors like yellow, orange, green, tan, and rust red can be obtained by simply processing the plant part with water. The leftover materials can be further utilized in fertilizers.
11. Home Care
Due to its anti-microbial properties, eucalyptus is an important ingredient in keeping the home bacteria-free but also fragrant. Eucalyptus oil can be mixed with a range of home cleaning products like mop water, toilet cleaner, soap, etc.
12. Spot Remover
Eucalyptus oil is highly effective in removing stains from almost every fabric in your house. It is also quite effective in removing ink stains and gum from clothes and shoes.
13. For Making Paper
The short fiber length and low coarseness make the eucalyptus pulp an economical option for producing a fine quality paper. Eucalyptus pulp has a high number of fibers per grams due to the short fiber length.
The eucalyptus nectar can be used in producing high-quality monofloral honey.
15. Musical Instruments
The wood is usually used to make didgeridoos, a traditional Australian wind instrument.
Word Of Caution
- While eucalyptus is very beneficial one should take precautions towards not consuming eucalyptus oil as it is poisonous in nature and koalas eating them doesn’t mean it is safe for consumption by humans. Eucalyptus oil is very potent and toxic, especially in its undiluted form.
- Also, people with chronic illnesses should use eucalyptus products only after consulting with their doctor.
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