Magic is defined as the art of producing a desired effect through the use of incantation or other techniques that have the ability to call non-physical energy to action. The Aborigines of Australia believed that there was magic in the ‘Dream world,’ and that magic manifested in their reality as well; the healing chemical compounds in eucalyptus oil could be considered one such manifestation of this magic. The Aborigines believed that the form of the eucalyptus tree took shape from a certain type of non-physical magic, and it was called ‘kino, the tree with healing eucalyptus oil.’
The eucalyptus tree grew in several parts of Australia. The Aborigines learned how to harness its magic and heal what ailed them. They had no idea what the oil in the leaves contained in terms of chemicals. All they knew was eucalyptus oil could help them with skin wounds, congestion, and other health issues when the leaves were steamed or chewed. There are over 500 species of eucalyptus trees in Australia, and by trial and error the natives found out which species had the healing qualities.
The primary species used to help relieve an assortment of health issues is Eucalyptus spp. That species now grows in tropical climates around the world. There are many chemical compounds in the eucalyptus, but the primary chemical is eucalyptol or 1,8-cineole. That chemical compound alone has anesthetic, expectorant, antibronchitic, herbicide, antilaryngitic, antipharyngitic, antiseptic, cns-stimulant, anticatarrh, counterirritant, dentifrice, fungicide, antitussive, hepatotonic, choleretic hypotensive, sedative and pesticide properties.
The chemical eucalyptol was given its name in 1870 by the French chemist F.S. Cloez. Some eucalyptus species contain 70 to 90% eucalyptol while other species may only contain 4%. The other chemical compounds in the oil are: limonene oxide, l, 1,8-epoxy-p-menthane, 1,8-oxido-p-menthane, cajeputo eucalyptole, cineol, cineole and 1,3,3-trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane.
That list can be broken down so it’s better understood. Eucalyptus bark for example contains quercetin, eriodictyol, rhamnetin, naringenin, rhamnazin, citriodorol and taxifolin. They are all considered powerful antioxidants. The leaves contain rutin, terpineol, gamma-terpinene, pinocarvone, and euglobals, which have anti-tumor promoting activities, and as much as 11% tannins, which are known to have antiviral, antidysenteric, antimutagenic, bactericide, antinephritic, cancer-preventive, psychotropic, viricide and hepatoprotective properties.
There’s An Army Of Healing Chemicals In Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil also contains about 58% citronellol, which gives the oil that fantastic aroma, plus the linalool, limonene, and aromdendrene help enhance the aroma. Since pure eucalyptus oil contains such a wide variety of chemical compounds, the uses for the oil are still the subject of several research studies. What researchers do know is eucalyptus can be toxic when it is taken internally. The 1,8-cineole, rutin, cyanogenic glycosides, and tannins can cause adverse reactions like abdominal pain, convulsions, respiratory issues, and vomiting. The potential for these issues is hard to determine because the type and the quantity of each chemical varies depending on the species.
Koala bears are unique among animals in that their diet is composed solely of eucalyptus foliage. Unlike other animals, koalas have evolved ways to metabolize the problematic compounds in eucalyptus leaves with no ill effects. Thus, they get all the healing benefits of eucalyptus leaves in the most direct way, by eating them! For humans, however, it’s usually safer to use eucalyptus essential oil in small amounts internally and on aromatherapy for medicinal purposes.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved eucalyptus oil for human food use, and the Council of Europe has approved the oil as a food additive, but there are quantity restrictions in place. Even with the restrictions, pure eucalyptus oil is healing oil that has the potential to help repair skin wounds, treat bronchial issues, and add some flavor to food. The aborigines, like koala bears, know the importance of the oil and it’s finally beginning to rub-off on some medical skeptics.