Home Herbal Monograph Eucalyptus, Tasmanian Blue Gum Tree
History

This plant was the principal source of medicinal eucalyptus oil in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Belgian Congo. In Belgian Congo and in Guatemala, E. smithii was also exploited for medicinal oil. The oil was also called 'Nilgiri Taila' because of its area of cultivation, in India. The oil was widely extracted in the hills of Udagamand (Nilgiris, South India). It appears in many pharmacopoeias around the world.


Habitat

It was introduced in India as a fuel tree in 1843. It grows well in India from the Nilgiris (5,000-8,300 ft.), the Annamalai and Palni hills in the south to the Simla hills (4,000-7,000 ft) in Himanchal Pradesh and Shillong, Assam in the east of India. Now it is cultivated throughout the dry districts of India.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a large tree attaining a height of 300 ft. or more, with a clean straight bole under forest conditions, but often tending to branch freely when grown in the open. Leaves on juvenile shoots are opposite, sessile, cordate-ovate and covered with a bluish white bloom. The adult leaves are alternate, lanceolate, 6-12 in. long and 1-2 in. broad. Stems of the seedlings and coppice shoots are quadrangular. Flowers are in cymose panicles. The fruit is a capsule.

Principal Constituents

Cineole (62%) and pinene (24%) are the principal active constituents of the oil from leaves obtained from plantations of Nilgiri district of Tamilnadu.

Pharmacology

It has analgesic, expectorant, decongestant, antiseptic, anti-neuralgic properties and increases blood circulation1.

Clinical Studies

The Nilgiri oil (Eucalyptus oil distilled in Nilgiris) is being used by the Medical Department of the Government of Madras for several years in cases of upper respiratory tract infections and has proved quite satisfactory.

Toxicology

Cases of eucalyptus oil poisoning have been sometimes reported. In cases of babies and young children Eucalyptus oil should not be applied on face, especially on nose.

Indications

Dried leaves of Eucalyptus are used in the form of a tincture in asthma and chronic bronchitis. Eucalyptus oil is used locally as an antiseptic, especially in the treatment of infections of the upper respiratory tract. Mixed with an equal amount of olive oil, it is useful as a rubefacient for rheumatism. Internally it is used as a stimulating expectorant in chronic bronchitis and asthma. It is frequently given by inhalation. A few drops of the oil may be added along with menthol, oil of pine and Compound Tincture of Benzoin to boiling water and the mixed vapour and steam are inhaled.

References
  1. Cooksley, V.G., 1996, Aromatherapy, Prentice Hall, New Jersey 07652.