Volatile oils are complex chemical compounds that give plants their scent and aroma. When they are exposed to hot air or steam they evaporate so they were named ‘volatile’ oils. Eucalyptus oil in clinical aromatherapy is a popular treatment because new research on the volatile chemical composition of the oil is revealing new facts about eucalyptus, and how it interacts with the cells in the body.
Another name for eucalyptus and other volatile oils is essential oils, and at times they are known as ethereal oils. They all are lighter than water and colorless when they are extracted. They are usually found in the glands or the gland hairs of plants, and they may act as hormones, growth inhibitors, and insect repellants or they may act as pheromones that attract insects to the flowers of neighboring plants for fertilization.
Volatile oils are called complex because they contain two or three hundred constituents, but there’s only a small amount of this kind of oil in most plants so it could take tons of plants to produce a pound of oil. The medicinal value of these volatile oils continues to fascinate researchers, especially the uses of eucalyptus oil in clinical aromatherapy.
Clinical aromatherapy is gaining credibility in mainstream medical circles because there are some interesting pharmaceutical and medicinal effects on the body that can’t be duplicated using synthetically engineered chemicals that mimic the natural compounds in eucalyptus oil. The type of eucalyptus oil used in clinical aromatherapy should be high grade, meaning it contains at least 70% cineol by weight. Cineol, sometimes called eucalyptol, is the main active ingredient in eucalyptus oil.
More clinical aromatherapy techniques are being used before chemotherapy and after some operations. The results of using eucalyptus oil in terms of relaxation and the general sense of well-being that manifests from inhaling the oil are documented in some studies. There is also emerging evidence that eucalyptus oil may be effective at reducing muscle pain and pain that results from inflammation, such as arthritis pain. The fact that the oil is helping the cells regenerate has also been established, but hard evidence is still being accumulated. Eucalyptus, like lavender oil, can interact with the chemical receptors in the brain to elevate mood and reduce mental stress. A whiff of eucalyptus oil can provide a quick burst of energy for long car trips or study sessions. Some aromatherapists even use eucalyptus to create a more calming environment for conflict mediation.
The therapeutic effect of eucalyptus oil on the nervous system is another plus, and the antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial qualities also help keep the immune system functioning effectively. When eucalyptus is inhaled during aromatherapy, the vapor can ease pain and stimulate lung cells, which helps reduce congestion. In fact, eucalyptus oil is the most widely used essential oil in aromatherapy and steam baths to treat lung and sinus congestion, and has even been used to treat conditions like asthma.
Clinical Aromatherapy Is Still Not An Exact Science
There are always nay-sayers, especially when non-ordinary treatments for certain health issues do not conform to established methods. Of course, those established methods were non-ordinary at one point. Treating the body using natural methods was the first accepted method, and all the synthetic chemicals used for treatment are usually derived from chemicals found in nature.
The most common hydrocarbons found in plants are terpenes, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, and there are different qualities in each of them that give them the ability to mix with alcohol, esters and ketones, which all contain molecules that interact with the cells in the body. Clinical aromatherapy is not an exact science because the amount of these chemical compounds varies in the volatile oil of eucalyptus and other plants. The result of using eucalyptus oil in clinical aromatherapy may not always be what’s expected, due to chemical inconsistencies as well as hormone secretion in the body.
Even with all the inconsistencies, eucalyptus oil is effective when it’s used in clinical aromatherapy, plus eucalyptus oil is producing results in laboratory studies that will help increase its use in clinical aromatherapy.