Remember all those kinds of toothpaste and chewing-gum commercials dwelling on how good these products are due to their content of eucalyptus extract? Well, the day has come to investigate this much-praised plant and find out exactly which are its properties and how can its beneficial effects act to improve your health. All you have to do is scroll down and read everything you want to know about Eucalyptus globulus!
More common under the names of “Tasmanian Blue Gum”, “Southern Blue Gum” or simply “Blue Gum”, Eucalyptus globulus is native to the Australian continent. However, as the popular names might give you a hint, its natural distribution also involves Tasmania (whose floral emblem it is since 1962) and Southern Victoria, with isolated populations in King Island and Flinders Island as well.
There are four known Eucalyptus Globulus subspecies:
Non-native Eucalyptus globulus plantations have quickly naturalized in southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus), southern Africa, New Zealand, western Georgia, Hawaii and even the western parts of the United States (California). The scientific name of the species is derived from the Latin “Globulus”, meaning a tiny button, alluding to the shape of the caps covering the flower buds.
This evergreen tree comes in different shapes and sizes, according to its natural habitat; it’s very decorative aspect makes it nowadays one of the most widely cultivated trees which, in gardens or parks, can occur either as stunted shrubs or as medium to very tall (of around 70 meters in height) trees, with a trunk diameter that can exceed 2 meters. The largest Eucalyptus globulus tree grows today in Tasmania and it has over 90 m (almost 300 ft).
Eucalyptus globulus does not produce taproots, yet its roots are several feet deep. Close to the ground level, the bark is rough and persistent, but as we advance in height it peels and reveals long strips of the smooth trunk, which can be colored in pale grey, white or yellow shades.
Young leaves of Eucalyptus globulus (15 cm long and 11 cm wide) grow in opposite pairs and have a waxy texture, colored in a specific and very intense blue-green nuance. On the other hand, adult leaves double their length, yet become considerably narrower (only 3cm). They grow alternately on the stem and their sickle-shaped glossy surface is shining green or dark-green, with numerous oil glands.
The white or cream Eucalyptus globulus flowers produce large amounts of nectar and are pollinated by a wide range of insects, birds, and even mammals. Flowers grow in inflorescences and each bud (top-shaped, multiple ridged and warty) is covered by a flatted operculum (cap) with a central knob. Eucalyptus globulus’ woody fruits are small (not measuring more than 1.5, 2.5 cm across), bearing 3 to 6 seeds each.
Eucalyptus Globulus Cultivation
Eucalyptus Globulus grows very fast and it is rather easily adaptable to a wide range of natural environments. This accounts for its popularity, being the most extensively planted species of Eucalypts, as pulpwood, fuel-wood and for decorative purposes. However, many municipalities regard these trees unsuitable for street design since they grow too rapidly and oversize at maturity.
Non-Medicinal Uses of Eucalyptus Globulus
Apart from its decorative aspects, Eucalyptus Globulus is intensively cultivated for industrial purposes. The pale, hard timber is very durable, so it is useful in heavy constructions and fence poles. These trees are also planted as a firewood resource, and their high caloric qualities qualify them for obtaining good charcoal.
Eucalyptus Globulus is also an important source of paper pulp. Its wide, deep and fast-growing roots are good for controlling soil erosion and they are also intended for drying the ground in swampy regions in Algeria, Lebanon, Italy, and California.
Medicinal Use and Benefits
Eucalyptus globulus leaves are of great therapeutical value in the treatment of diabetes and respiratory tract disorders if you administer them internally, either in the form of inhalations, infusions, essential oils, decoctions or inhalations. The eucalyptus infusion (herbal tea) is an effective mouthwash, breath freshener, deodorant, and antibacterial product.
Leaves can also be used externally to treat bruises, skin burns, and cuts, sprains or muscular pains. You can apply the fresh, clean leaves directly on the wound or you can make cold infusion compresses. Apart from the leaves, Eucalyptus Globulus flowers can be used in the homeopath medicine. They produce copious volumes of nectar resulting in strongly flavored honey which, if taken regularly in small quantities, improves the functioning of your respiratory and immune system.
Eucalyptus Globulus’s adult leaves are the main source of the well-known and much appreciated eucalyptus oil, which is extracted by means of steam distillation. China is the world’s largest producer of this oil, which has numerous therapeutic and cosmetic qualities.
Its strong aromatic fragrance qualifies it for the perfume industry; moreover, its fresh taste and anti-microbial action makes it a widely used ingredient in oral hygiene products. It is particularly valuable as an antiseptic agent, while it is strongly recommended as a decongestant in respiratory disorders (inflammation of the mucous membranes, bronchitis, the common cold).
Known Hazards and Side Effects
Despite all its beneficial effects, you should note that Eucalyptus Globulus contains in its chemical structure some toxic compounds that can cause severe headaches and convulsions if the recommended dosage is exceeded. Also, bear in mind that eucalyptus oil products exceeding a certain concentration are forbidden for internal use since it can be fatal if ingested.
To allergic patients, even the external use of eucalyptus oil can do harm and cause various forms of contact dermatitis. Keep out of the reach of children all the pharmaceutical supplements based on Eucalyptus Globulus and, before you start using them, ask for qualified advice to avoid potentially unpleasant effects and interactions.