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Also referred to as the Red River Gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, or E. camaldulensis, is a large perennial tree native along watercourses and flood plains in Australia. Traditionally used in Aboriginal folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments from cold and cough to wounds and fever, E. camaldulensis extract does have healthful benefits and is often an ingredient in commercial medications sold today. As eucalyptus extract can be toxic or fatal if administered undiluted or in large doses, check with your doctor before using the oil or extracts in home remedies.

Antimicrobial Benefits
E. camaldulensis extract is an effective antimicrobial agent. When introduced to cultured strains of E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus as a part of a study published in 2008 in the "Research Journal of Medicinal Plant," E. camaldulensis showed significant inhibition of bacterial growth in lab samples. In another antimicrobial study published in 2009 in the journal "Pharmaceutical Biology," inhibition of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that can lead to peptic ulcer disease and increase the risk of colorectal cancer, may indicate strong gastrointestinal benefits against this bacterial infection, which is difficult, invasive and expensive to treat with pharmaceutical antibiotics.

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Respiratory Benefits
Healthful benefits associated with E. camaldulensis and its active ingredient, cineole, include a positive effect on the respiratory system as an expectorant and decongestant. Administered through vapor ointments, cough suppressants and teas, E. camaldulensis’s aromatic and anti-inflammatory properties loosen phlegm, break up nasal decongestant and relieve irritation of sinus and throat tissue. Studies have also shown positive respiratory benefits for individuals suffering from severe asthma when given a concentrated form of E. camaldulensis, referred to as 1.8-cineole or eucalyptol.

Antiseptic and Analgesic Benefits
E. camaldulensis also has antiseptic benefits. When administered topically, eucalyptus can help prevent infection in cuts and wounds. The oil is also a common ingredient in antiseptic mouthwashes, killing bacteria that cause gingivitis and bad breath. The essential oil is also a common ingredient in some analgesic rubs and ointments, as a way to relieve muscle pain and arthritis.

Antioxidant Benefits
Another healthful benefit linked to the medicinal use of E. camaldulensis has to do with its antioxidant properties. In a study published in the "Journal of the Iranian Chemical Society" in 2010, researchers at Cumhuriyet University in Turkey demonstrated that the high concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids found in eucalyptus oil extract inhibited cell oxidation damage and abnormal cell growth and may combat everything from cell degeneration due to age to prevention of some forms of cancer.

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The Lung Cleansing Benefits of Eucalyptus
The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia and has over 700 species. Although eucalyptus is often thought of as a food for koala bears, its use extends well beyond being a food source for local wildlife and it has been appreciated for its many health benefits. Native aborigines used eucalyptus leaf infusions for a variety of ailments, including sinus congestion, cold, and fever. In the 19th-century, eucalyptus oil was used in English hospitals to clean urinary catheters. Other medicinal systems, such as Ayurvedic, Greek, and Chinese have provisions for eucalyptus as well.

How Does Eucalyptus Work?

Eucalyptus contains a number of compounds with antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, expectorant, and decongestant properties. This powerhouse combination of benefits is due in part to a compound called cineole. Cineole is typically cited as the active ingredient in eucalyptus because it is an expectorant, can ease a cough, and fight upper respiratory problems.

Research Supports Eucalyptus Benefits

A 2010 article in Alternative Medicine Review examined the antimicrobial effects of cineole and noted that, “Surprisingly for an antimicrobial substance, there are also immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and spasmolytic effects. Of the white blood cells, monocytes and macrophages are most affected, especially with increased phagocytic activity. Application by either vapor inhalation or oral route provides benefit for both purulent and non-purulent respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). [1]”

A 2008 study reported by NYU Langone Medical Center also found that a 200 mg dose of cineole, taken three times a day, helped improve viral sinusitis symptoms [2].

Eucalyptus oil is an anti-inflammatory. Researchers at The Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain note this action may be due to the ability of eucalyptus oil to inhibit nitric oxide production [3].

Eucalyptus and Respiratory Ailments

Because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it may strengthen the immune system during a cold, flu, or other illness, and help fight infection. A study in Brazil examined the anti-inflammatory effect of eucalyptus oils and concluded that they possess analgesic effects and independent, anti-inflammatory activities [4]. In support, in an article in the June 28, 2012 edition of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Chinese researchers analyzed different eucalyptus oils and found them to contain high amounts of phenolic compounds, which are plant based antioxidants [5].

The German Government’s Commission E has approved eucalyptus tea in Germany as a medicinal tea for bronchitis and inflammation of the throat. In the United States, it is mainly used as a decongestant and found in many oral cough and cold remedies such as lozenges and syrups.

Eucalyptus is sold as both a supplement and is an ingredient in over-the-counter products. Eucalyptus supplements have been promoted for cough/bronchitis and rheumatism, temporary relief of nasal congestion and coughs associated with a cold. Although eucalyptus has been used orally to support some conditions, the oil is unsafe when it is taken by mouth or applied directly to the skin without first being diluted.

Other herbs that provide beneficial lung cleansing are: osha root, lungwort leaf, oregano leaf, lobelia flower, and chapparal.

Eucalyptus tea is made from the ground leaves of the eucalyptus tree, native to Australia and known in that region as the fever tree due to its medicinal properties. Germany has standardized eucalyptus tea where it is widely recommended as a treatment for bronchitis and sore throat. Add a cup of eucalyptus tea to your seasonal cold and flu-fighting strategy. Its anti-microbial effects are backed by scientific research. Check with your doctor before trying eucalyptus tea if you take prescription medicine, as there may be side effects with some medications.

Lower Blood-Sugar
Drinking eucalyptus tea throughout the day can help to lower blood sugar for those with pre-diabetic or confirmed diabetes. An animal-based study published in August 1998 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition" noted that the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, known as eucalyptus globulus in the scientific community, may offer a dietary complement for those undergoing treatment for diabetes. Ask your doctor how much tea is safe for you to drink.

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Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Scientific research suggests that the oil extracted from eucalyptus tree leaves has anti-inflammatory properties that may be applicable for those suffering from asthma and other steroid-sensitive disorders as a viable long-term therapy. Dried eucalyptus tea- leaves offer a mild method of ingesting these beneficial properties. One study published in the March 2003 "Respiratory Medical Journal" noted that the findings of a double-blind placebo controlled trial deduced that eucalyptol, a constituent of eucalyptus oil, is a useful mucolytic agent in upper and lower airway diseases, able to aid in dissolving mucus.

Anti-Bacterial Benefits
Beat back those misery-causing bacteria that invade when your immune system defenses are down with a soothing cup of eucalyptus tea. The March 2007 "Phytotherapy Research" journal published a study citing that eucalyptus leaf oil extract inhibited the growth of three potentially destructive bacterias staphylococcus aureus, the cause of strep throat; escherichia coli, better known as E. coli; and candida albicans, the cause of yeast infections. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends up to three cups of the tea per day for adults. A pleasant side effect of this tea is that it also kills the bacteria that cause bad breath.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns that products containing eucalyptus oil taken along with some medications that are altered by the liver, can enhance the side effects of those medications. Further, the NIH recommends close monitoring of blood sugar for diabetics who ingest any product containing eucalyptus leaf extract. Check with your medical adviser before adding any herbal products to your diet.

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