Eucalyptus is a genus of trees including more than 700 species. Almost all eucalyptus species grow on the Australian continent. Eucalyptus oil has been used as a traditional health remedy for hundreds of years, so much so it is known as "Australia's miracle plant." Eucalyptus oil is a clear, slightly viscous liquid with an easily recognizable taste and aroma, produced by steaming fresh eucalyptus leaves. Eucalyptus globulus or the blue gum tree is the most common source.
Eucalyptus oil is a common natural nasal, chest, and sinus decongestant. The organic compound cineole is largely responsible for this property. Many people add several drops of eucalyptus oil to hot water or a nebulizer and inhale the steam to relieve their congestion. Eucalyptus oil also breaks up mucus in the lungs and respiratory tract. Some people use eucalyptus as a chest rub to ease coughing and congestion related to COPD, asthma, and chronic sinus infections. Commercial cough suppressant medications and sore throat lozenges often contain the oil.
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