Eucalyptus Radiata (or Eucalyptus officinalis)
Applied to the skin or through massage
Inhalation or Diffusion
Eucalyptus radiata is an Australian tree with a bluish grey trunk which may reach thirty metres and belongs to the Myrtaceae family.
A closed shell hides the flower stamens which come out when they grow, which gave the tree its Greek name (eu "well", kaluptos "covered"). The leaves have oil glands and can capture solar energy on each of their faces, which makes them secrete an abundant nectar.
"The fever tree", which has the rare virtue of cleansing its surroundings, was discovered in Australia in 1792 by the French naturalist Julien Houtou de La Billardière, who accompanied La Perouse and wrote an account of the expedition. Aboriginals used its leaves to treat their wounds and fevers. Its introduction in Europe dates back to 1856 when the commercial product started in the Australian state of Victoria. Eucalyptus was used to dry out and clean malaria-infested marsh regions as it absorbs large quantities of water and releases strongly anti-infectious emissions, thus one of its names Eucalyptus salubris.
Cultivation and production
An almost exclusively Australian forest species including seven hundred species, and a treat for koalas, the eucalyptus spread over the other continents in Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal where it is used for paper pulp), Africa (Morocco and Madagascar), Asia (China, India, Sri Lanka) and North and South America. It is found in all the pharmacopoeias of the planet. Australia, Morocco and Spain are the main exporters of essential oil of eucalyptus. In Tunisia, a colossal project of the Global Wood Holding of Geneva plans to plant in the Tatouine desert a forest to provide two million tonnes of eucalyptus wood per year for export.
Eucalyptus radiata leaves have a strong camphor odour, slightly pungent, even though less than that of Eucalyptus globulus. Essential oil of eucalyptus has a characteristic, fresh and pleasant scent.
Extraction and yield
The yield of eucalyptus leave steam distillation is approximately 2%, i.e. two kilograms per hundred kilograms of plant.
The active ingredients of essential oil of Eucalyptus radiata are mainly oxides (1,8-cineol: 72%-75%-80%) and a monoterpenol (alpha-terpineol).
Antiviral, decongestant and expectorant, Eucalyptus radiata or Eucalyptus globulus is the Attila the Hun of respiratory diseases, irrespective of whether they are viral (cold, flu) or bacterial (bronchitis, sinusitis, otitis). It is pleasant to breathe and a formidable nasal decongestant. Furthermore, it has the capacity of curing skin infections, support the immune system and energise.
Lemon scented gum (Eucalyptus citriodora citronnellalifera), Blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), Menthol eucalyptus (Eucalyptus dives piperitoniferum), Eucalyptus polybractea cineol (Eucalyptus polybractea cineolifera), Eucalyptus polybractea crypton (Eucalyptus polybractea cryptonifera).
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.