On my last trip to Trader Joes, I saw a great deal on dried Eucalyptus ($4.99 for a big bunch of it). This is the kind of Eucalyptus that is used for table decorations or in flower vases. I have vivid memories of orange Eucalyptus in orange vases (or those cornucopia baskets) with brown cattails in the bathrooms or hallways of my mom’s friends - way back in the 70s. (Yes, Cathy Flubacher and Teena Jones – I remember these in your houses.) I think my mom had a few of those floral arrangements as well - You know, the kind that looked great with wood paneled walls and shag carpet. (Ours was orange too.) As the years have passed I have not really thought of it much, but I have always loved the smell of Eucalyptus.
It turns out that there are many other uses for Eucalyptus besides outdated décor. I never knew there were different types of Eucalyptus, and one of the most helpful ones is Eucalyptus globulus. There have been several studies on the medical benefits of this plant. According to Dennis Zofou and his co-authors, Eucalyptus globulus has been researched as a treatment for malaria in Camaroon:
Eucalyptus globulus which is widely employed by traditional healers of Western Cameroon for malaria has previously been studied for its postulated properties. Previous studies have revealed E. globulus to be a good source of antimicrobial leads. The leaves of Eucalyptus robusta (another plant of the same genus) are used in China for the treatment of dysentery, malaria, and bacterial diseases. Three active compounds, Robustaol A, Robustadial A, and Robustadial B, were isolated from the ethanol extract of the leaves. The present work on the crude extract from leaves agree with these previous findings, justifying the wide use of E.globulus as antimalarial by endogenous traditional healers of Western Cameroon.
Sure, that’s a lot of words to just say that it is medically beneficial, but genuine studies of herbal remedies have become harder and harder to find.
For centuries, Eucalyptus globulus has been used for breathing issues. Because this plant’s pharmacological actions include being and expectorant, a mild antispasmodic, an antibacterial, an antifungal, and an antiviral, it should be in every household! Of course, proper use is important. It can be used as an essential oil – but not directly applied to babies or used internally because of toxicity to the Kidney (USDA). The dried leaf can also be used as a tea. Of course, for people who like the smell of Eucalyptus (like me), diffusing the oil in your home is pleasant. It reminds me of a very clean smell.
Eucalyptus is native to Tasmania and didn’t come to the US until 1856. Because the Eucalyptus is a tree, the wood is used in other countries as firewood, but not for lumber. (USDA) (I wonder if burning a Eucalyptus log in your fireplace would smell as good as the dried leaves.) It is a good source of nectar. There are really so many uses for Eucalyptus! According to the USDA Fire Service:
The oil is used as a flavoring agent in cold and cough medicines. It is
used in disinfectants, antiseptic liniments, ointments, toothpastes, and
mouthwashes. It is used by veterinarians for treating influenza in
horses, distemper in dogs, and septicaemia in all animals.
I’m almost certain I will not administer Eucalyptus globulus in all of these ways, but I am glad that I learned more about this versatile plant. I think I will go back to Trader Joes and get that ornamental Eucalyptus to put somewhere in my house and then read up on the medicinal uses of Eucalyptus globulus.
Esser, Lora L.USDA Fire Service. “Eucalyptus globulus.” In: Fire Effects Information System. 7 March 2012. Web.
Zofou,Denis, Mathieu Tene, Moses N. Ngemenya, Pierre Tane, and Vincent P. K. Titanji. “In Vitro Antiplasmodial Activity and Cytotoxicity of Extracts of Selected Medicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healers of Western Cameroon.” Malaria Research and Treatment Volume 2011, Article ID 561342. 24 January 2011. PubMed.gov. 7 March 2012. Web.
 The USDA Fire Service lists the different species of Eucalyptus as: E.
blakelyi, E. botryoides, E. cinera, E. cypellocarpa, E. ovata, E. rudis,
E. tereticornis (forest redgum eucalyptus), E. urnigera, and E.