There are over 700 species of eucalyptus on the Earth, the majority of them being evergreen. They are native to Australia, where they are commonly known as a Gum Tree. The natural antiseptic, insect repelling, and other useful properties have been noted there for centuries. Since the plant was introduced to the west by Captain Cook in the late 1700’s, we have further studied them and learned that eucalyptus can have many benefits for the body, both as a remedy for illness and in preparations for the skin.
Eucalyptus leaves excrete a number of antibacterial components, including citronellal, p-cymene, eucamalol, γ-terpinene, α- terpinol, limonene, linalool, β- pinene, aromadendrene, and alloocimene. The leaves of the plant are treated with steam, and the essential oils that are extracted contain these beneficial compounds. Studies have shown that certain compounds found in eucalyptus essential oil can have bactericidal effects when tested on a large variety of common illness-causing Gram‐positive and Gram‐negative bacteria, even on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), although it is unknown exactly which of the several compounds, in combination with the other compounds present, provide the most benefit for fighting bacterial infections, especially in drug-resistant strains.
With such thought-provoking data coming from studies, it is no wonder that essential oil enthusiasts tout the positive effects of eucalyptus on any number of complaints, from minor skin irritations to sore throats. In the treatment of acne, believers in the positive effects of eucalyptus say that it has helped them prevent flare-ups, as well as treat any blemishes that already exist to heal quickly.
Eucalyptus moisturizes dry skin by actively increasing the ceramide content in the skin. Ceramides are fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin and provide a protective barrier that is essential to normal skin cell function as well as the appearance of healthy skin. Aging skin naturally loses some ability to retain moisture as time goes by, and assisting the ceramides in the skin to retain moisture is what is believed to cause a more youthful appearance.
Antifungal and Antiviral
In studies that tested essential oil blends that included eucalyptus essential oil, antiviral properties were found when applied to samples of H1N1 and HSV1 viruses, and antifungal properties were noted when six different strains of Candida (a common fungus found in ailments caused by Candidiasis, such as thrush, yeast infections, fungal infections of the toenails, ringworm, and athlete’s foot – to name a few). When the antibacterial properties of eucalyptus are taken into account with these interesting laboratory findings, it is exciting how many common problems and minor skin and body problems could potentially benefit from the use of a preparation that contains the compounds found in eucalyptus.
The Cineole component of eucalyptus oil has been registered as an effective insecticide and mite repellant since 1948. The many varieties of eucalyptus native to Australia have glands that excrete the oils in the plant, and range in scent from peppermint to lemony. Most insects are put off by the scent of certain eucalyptus trees, but in 2013, scientists discovered that a variety of eucalyptus actually changed its scent to repel specifically whatever kind of insect was currently attacking it.
Protects The Skin
The ceramide (fatty acid) component in eucalyptus is part of the reason it is used to help keep skin healthy, intact, and free of infection. Healthy skin is an essential part of a healthy immune system. The skin filters out as many toxic byproducts of metabolism as the liver, through sweating. All of the properties listed above are just some of the many reasons that eucalyptus compounds have been used to protect delicate skin from the many irritating, inflammatory problems that arise from nature to attack the body’s first line of defense against disease: the skin.