Eucalyptus oil is the steam distilled oil that comes from the dried leaves of the Eucalyptus tree, the Eucalyptus globulus or Tasmanian bluegum, an evergreen native to Australia. They grow from 30–55 m., although the tallest currently known specimen is 90 m. tall, which you’ll find in Tasmania. The essential oil is colourless with a strong woody and sweet smell and has powerful medicinal properties and pharmaceutic, antibacterial, repellent and fragrance uses. It’s also known as a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps to relieve joint and muscle pain, rheumatism, sprained ligaments and tendons, stiff muscles, fibrosis and nerve pain. As a fragrance component it adds a fresh and clean aroma in soaps, detergents, lotions, and perfumes. Due to its cleansing properties, Eucalyptus oil is found in mouthwash to freshen breath, throat lozenges and cough suppressants.
Aboriginal people used it as a natural bush medicine to heal wounds, to disinfect, different body pains, fevers and chills. Nothing has been written down but passed on through singing and dancing ceremonies.
So, originally from Australia, today the major Eucalyptus producing countries are China, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Russia, and Chile and there are over 300 species and 700 varieties of Eucalyptus.
The word Eucalyptus was created in 1788 by French botanist Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle and was based on the ancient Greek words εὖ καλυπτός (eu kalyptós) meaning ‘well covered’. This specific specimen had been collected in Tasmania by gardener-botanist David Nelson on Cook’s third expedition in 1777 and brought to Kew Gardens, London, where L’Héritier was working. Interesting to know is that David was also botanist on HMS Bounty under William Bligh at the time of the famous mutiny.
Eucalyptus oil is used in products like Tooth oil and Foot balm.