This is the first of a series of posts I’m going to write about specific essential oils. I’ll highlight oils that you’re sure to know like eucalyptus, frankincense, and lavender as well as ones you may never have heard of, but really ought to know, like lemon myrtle, Fragonia™, and Inula. I can’t guarantee that I’ll use the exact same format for each one (too textbookish), but I’ll definitely keep the layout similar. I’ll tell you about the smell, what part of the plant is used, things you need to be cautious of when using the oil, and some trivia if I can rustle some up.
About the name: Eucalyptus globulus is the latin name (Genus species) of the plant we get this wonderful oil from. With plants as well as essential oils, the Genus name is always capitalized, while the species name is always in lower case. Sometimes essential oils go by a single name, either the genus or a common name, but when there are more than one species that are used for separate essential oils, they’re usually referred to by their latin name.
You’ve probably smelled the nose and sinus opening scent of Eucalyptus globulus; it’s unmistakeable. It’s also the most famous of the eucalyptus oils.* In fact, if you see an essential oil bottle simply labeled Eucalyptus, it’s probably Eucalyptus globulus. Aromatherapists describe its scent as fresh, piercing, sharp, and medicinal. Eucalyptus gets its distinctive aroma from a chemical called 1,8-cineol which makes up ≥50% of the oil’s constituents. This is the chemical that clears your sinuses.
The essential oil is made by steam distilling the leaves. It takes about 110 pounds of leaves to make 2 pounds of oil.
*Yes, there are other kinds of eucalyptus. I’ll tell you about them in my next essential oil post in 2 weeks.
Just because essential oils are “all natural” doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be handled with caution. Poison ivy is “all natural” and so are nettles and 5 out of 6 nettle species will sting you. So, here are the things to be cautious about when using eucalyptus oil:
Most people love eucalyptus to ease sinus and nasal congestion, but it’s good for so much more. It’s also good for:
When blending, eucalyptus is considered a top note meaning it evaporates fairly quickly so don’t make a huge batch of whatever you’re blending or the eucalyptus will likely be gone, or its aroma will be greatly changed, before you use it up. In a fresh blend, it tends to dominate the other oils. For that reason you want to only blend it with oils that will aid the effect you’re after.
Here are a few oils that are known to make a pleasant smelling blend when combined with eucalyptus:
Koalas exist on a diet of primarily eucalyptus leaves, which are poisonous to most other mammals, including humans. Koalas also don’t drink much water, because they get all the hydration they need from the eucalyptus leaves. Because of this, young koala may have a slight eucalyptus smell to them but adults do not; it’s a myth that they smell strongly of it. Eucalyptus leaves don’t get koalas high but they don’t provide much nutrition either. They are also very fibrous, so to conserve what little energy the leaves provide while digesting the tough plant material, koalas sleep 18 or more hours a day.