Eucalyptus is the dominant tree Down Under. The leaves are the favorite snack of koalas, who often spend all day munching the slightly toxic foliage in a quasi-drunken stupor. Sometimes referred to as the blue gum tree, the vaporized oil from eucalyptus leaves casts a distinctive blue haze across some Aussie bush. The oil distilled from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree has been revered for its therapeutic properties for thousands of years by Australian aboriginal people. Eucalyptus oil was first introduced to the world by Captain Cook's expedition of 1770.
The medicinally active ingredients in eucalyptus oil include tannins, eucalyptol and cineole. It's beneficial for healing wounds, fighting infections and relieving muscle aches. The oil, when inhaled in a steam bath helps control congestion, loosen phlegm and ease symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection. You'll find eucalyptus oil in the ingredients of children's chest rubs. It even helps in cases of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
Rub a little eucalyptus oil on your ankles and wrists for an effective insect repellant. Use it in massage oil or for an invigorating muscle rub after a workout. Soak pet collars in it for a flea repellant. Dot it on your temples to soothe a headache. Eucalyptus lozenges are good for relieving sore throats. This versatile oil is even good for spot and stain removal.