Eucalyptus oil: a history

A couple of eucalytus leaves against a blue sky

Eucalyptus leaves, hanging out in the sun.

Legend has it that a certain, how should we say–saucy, chewing-gum magnate resided for a time on Catalina Island, just 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Although the island is currently covered by groves of these spindling trees, this was not always the case. Groves of Eucalyptus create dense, low-hanging foliage, a fact our gum magnate’s wife must have known when she decided to plant them all over the island. Apparently, she had had enough of Monsieur Chewing-Gum’s drunken antics, and this tall tale ends with an inebriated gum salesmen crashing his vehicle into a dense thicket of green, minty, goodness–and dying. Fortunately for eucalyptus’ rap sheet, the tree’s more widely known history revolves around the therapeutic and medical uses of it’s essential oils.

A more substantiated history of Eucalyptus Oil

The Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus) is native to Tasmania and Australia, but has been transplanted to every inhabited continent in the world. The most common use of Eucalyptus leaves is the sequestering of its essential oil, cineol. In traditional Aboriginal medicine, the leaves and oils have been used for centuries in topical ointments and teas. The plant has been used to treat ailments ranging from fungal infections to headaches.

When William Dampier and lighted the Western shore of “New Holland” on August 1, 1699, the Aboriginal natives were the only ones to know of Eucalyptus’ therapeutic uses, but  it didn’t take long for Eastern and Western medical practitioners to catch on to its awesome properties. Eucalyptus oil made it’s way into the medical textbooks of Chinese, Indian(Ayurvedic) and Greco-European medicine. In the 19th century, Eucalyptus oil even found it’s way into the urinary catheters used in hospitals, a spot in which it found itself due to it’s antibacterial capacities.

One of the most observable qualities of eucalyptus oil is it’s aromatic properties, which are easily made apparent simply by rubbing two eucalyptus leaves together. In the 19th century, as industrialization took hold and looming urban landscapes exponentially replaced the previously pastoral settings of many Western regions, many Victorian gardens cultivated plants for their more aesthetic, fragrant properties. As the Eucalyptus can be pruned and maintained as a shrub, it found it’s way into the hearts of city dwellers as a pleasant addition to any garden. Today, we see eucalyptus oil as an essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle in products ranging from invigorating topical treatments to mentholated cough suppressants and nasal decongestants; we even use eucalyptus oil as an aromatherapeutic response to the stress and tension that accumulates in every busy, modern life. Though medical researchers are are currently in contention over eucalyptus’ use as an internal medicine for the treatment for illnesses like diabetes and asthma, its uses as a topical aid and in aromatherapy come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced its minty and soothing characteristics.

For centuries these medicinal and emotional qualities of eucalyptus oil have been used by people all over the world, which is precisely why we chose it as the backbone ingredient to one variety of our vegan eucalyptus bar soap. We hope it will relax our bathers as much as it will reinvigorate them.

A koala cuddling his eucalyptus tree

It may be that koalas love eucalyptus more than we do.

Sources

  • http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/eucalyptus-000241.htm
  • http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/eucalyptus.html#Folk%20Medicine
  • http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=108301
This entry was posted in Essential Oils, History, Soap Ingredients and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Eucalyptus oil: a history

  1. Chasidy says:

    I frankly learned about the majority of this, but in spite of this, I still thought it had been practical. Good job!

  2. Davis says:

    Fabulous write, I am browsing back frequent to watch out for posts.

  3. Kathrin says:

    Love the fresh design. I enjoyed this article. Bless you for the helpful article.

  4. nicky says:

    Koalas main food is eucalyptus leaves. They are used in many domestic, herbal and medicinal properties. Eucalyptus tree is known for its aromatic scent. This article is very interesting.

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