The eucalyptus plant originated around 50 million years ago after Australia-New Guinea separated from an ancient supercontinent called Gondwana that began to drift apart in the Jurassic era.
But it was only about fifty thousand years ago when eucalypts dominated and came to account for roughly 70 per cent of Australian forest due to human activity. Fire-loving eucalyptus trees need these sparks for their seeds to sprout; this is because their fruits are filled with resin, and their seedlings thrive in ash-rich soils.
Eucalypts are not only resilient, they also play a vital role in the environment, supplying shelter and food for a number of animals and insects. Indigenous Australians quickly discovered that the trees could provide tools and firewood. The bark was used to make boats, the leaves for poison, which helped them harvest fish in a waterhole, while they collected the leaves and roots to treat ailments.
Eucalyptus remains as significant as ever in modern Australia since it continues to be used as a source of timber and medicinal oil.
Plant Characteristics of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus Globulus is an evergreen that belongs to the Myrtle Family. Native to Tasmania and southeastern Australia, this tree is now widely planted in regions around the world, such as New Zealand, Hawaii, Micronesia, western United States, Chile, Spain, Portugal, and other parts of southern Europe.
This tree can reach a height of 150 to 180 feet and has a diameter of 4 to 7 feet. It has a straight trunk which is two-thirds of its total size, white flowers that bloom from July to August, and hard woody fruits. The dark green, leathery leaves of its older branches are narrow and often curved, while the leaves of the young shoots are oval-shaped and horizontal.
Eucalyptus trees are hermaphroditic, and bees pollinate them. Many eucalyptus species are called "gum trees" because of the sticky gum-like substance from their trunks.
Modern Medicinal Value of the Eucalyptus Leaf
Eucalyptus is popular because of its many health benefits. It is useful in helping keep the respiratory system healthy and treating coughs, colds, and congestions. The essential oil that comes from it has a powerful scent and is believed to be an effective agent against respiratory illnesses. Below are the other potential health benefits of eucalyptus:
It may relieve pain.
Eucalyptus contains limonene, a terpene that can help treat pain because of its anti-inflammatory effects. This compound also has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and can regulate cell growth.
Another component of eucalyptus is cineole which has therapeutic properties beneficial for pain management. With compounds like limonene and cineole, eucalyptus may help decrease pain, provide comfort, and improve quality of life.
It may decrease stress.
As previously mentioned, eucalyptus contains limonene. Organic to the plant, this compound provides a fresh scent and has anti-stress properties, which can reduce anxiety.
It may help keep the skin moisturized and hydrated.
We all know hydrated skin results in a healthy, smooth, glowing complexion. And it’s no secret that the key to youthful skin is moisture. Ceramides – a type of fatty acid that maintains the skin barrier and retains its moisture – are increased with the regular use of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is not only a remedy for treating pain; it might also improve the skin's overall health.
It can help improve dental health.
Decay-causing bacteria can damage our teeth. These form an acid that attacks the tooth's enamel when it comes into contact with the starches and sugars from food and drinks. Eucalyptus leaves contain eucalyptol, macrocarpal C, and ethanol, which can lower bacteria levels and improve dental health.
It may stimulate the immune system.
Eucalyptus has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties that can help protect the body from infections. For hundreds of years, humans have used it to treat various health issues. An animal study suggests that the oil that comes from it can enhance the immune system's response to pathogens, which means it could help fight germs from entering the body. Also, eucalyptus is high in antioxidants, especially flavonoids which may lower the risk of heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers.
It may lower blood sugar levels.
Eucalyptus tea could help regulate and lower blood sugar levels. However, you should consult a physician before drinking it if you take diabetes medications as it might lower your blood pressure too much.
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How to Prepare Eucalyptus Leaf Tea at Home
- Use one dried eucalyptus leaf (about a teaspoon) to make your tea. Add the crushed tea leaf to the bottom of a teacup.
- Heat water to 90-95 Celsius or 194-205 Fahrenheit. If you don't have a temperature-controlled teapot, bring water to a boil and then let sit for a minute to reduce the temperature slightly.
- Pour ¾ of a cup of water over the tea leaves.
- Let tea leaves steep for as long as desired, up to 10 minutes
- Breathe in eucalyptus vapours while the tea is steeping
- Strain loose leaves from the cup before drinking
- Sit back, relax and let this herbal tea heal your body and mind.
Bonus: Stirring honey into your eucalyptus tea will add a touch of sweetness. If you are drinking the tea to soothe a sore throat, the honey may help to ease symptoms as well.
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