The Eucalyptus plant botanical name is eucalyptus globulus, a tall evergreen tree native to Australia and Tasmania. Eucalyptus oil consists of the volatile oil distilled from the leaves and branch tops of the eucalyptus plant. The leaves and oil of the eucalyptus plant are used for many medicinal purposes. Researchers believe that the beneficial effect of the eucalyptus tincture is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. As early as the 19th century in England eucalyptus oil was used in hospitals to clean urinary catheters.
Laboratory studies have revealed that eucalyptus oil contains substances with strong antibacterial properties. Studies in animals and test tubes also found that eucalyptus oil acts as an expectorant, antiseptic, and deodorant. Many herbal practitioners recommend inhaling eucalyptus vapors to help treat bronchitis, coughs, and the flu. The leaves of the eucalyptus plant also contain substances that have expectorant, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties, but the leaves are also believed to help reduce inflammation and reduce fevers. One Russian study found that an alcoholic tincture containing eucalyptus helps relieve chronic ear infections. Eucalyptus oil is also rich in cineole (a potent antiseptic that kills bacteria) and has been used to treat bad breath. Because eucalyptus has such a sharp, pungent aroma, some aroma therapists recommend using it like smelling salts to revive someone who has fainted.
Most commercial herbal preparations originate in Mediterranean and subtropical regions, including Spain and Morocco. Topical ointments containing eucalyptus oil have been used in traditional Aboriginal medicines to heal wounds and fungal infections. Teas containing eucalyptus leaves were also used to reduce fevers. Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic, and Greco-European healers over the ages have used eucalyptus for many therapeutic purposes. Today, eucalyptus is commonly used in remedies to treat coughs and the common cold. It can be found in many lozenges, cough syrups, and vapor baths throughout the United States and Europe.