The Backbone of the Australian Bush
By Gregor Johnson,
BA Monash University, Melbourne Australia |
There are over 700 species of eucalyptus trees, almost all native to Australia, with a few in New Guinea and Indonesia, each one with its own healing properties. Most of the trees in Australia are eucalyptus but there is also the ancient tea tree known for it’s own healing properties.
The leaves of the eucalyptus tree yield eucalyptus oil which has been used for medical purposes for several hundred years by Australian aborigines, the Koori, to make a kind of tea. More recently, western medicine has expanded the uses of eucalyptus oil. Used for its anti-bacterial properties in products like cough drops, lozenges, inhalants, and in topical creams for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and penetration effects. Eucalyptus oil can also be applied to wounds to prevent infection.
One popular eucalyptus oil is distilled from the Blue Mallee eucalyptus tree, Eucalyptus Polybractea. The oil is used as a pain reliever because of its quick penetrating ability and has proven to provide anti-inflammatory benefits and reduce swelling in soft tissue. As an added bonus, the oil has a light, pleasant aroma.
Eastern Australia, the northeast coast of New South Wales, is where you will find the ancient tea tree, Melaleuca Alternifolia. Tea tree oil or melaleuca oil is taken from the leaves of the tea tree and is a clear to very pale golden colored essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odor. The Koori also used tea tree for healing. We now know that tea tree oil has beneficial medical properties including antiseptic and antifungal action, the treatment of insect bites and stings and is also believed to have beneficial cosmetic properties.
Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil have long been iconic essential oils in Australia. It is the oils ability to break the skin barrier and carry their soothing and relaxing properties to the underlying tissue that make them popular today.
While there are many topical uses for each of these essential oils, the people who find these products most useful for relief are likely to be among the more than 30 million arthritis sufferers in the USA today. Other users include those with sports related soft tissue injuries, and those with general muscle aches and pains.
Combining these two oils into one application has been achieved in Australia and there is no reason it shouldn’t work in this country.
Natural products with relieving properties from the ancient bushland of Australia, now there’s something we can look forward to!
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4. Shemesh, A., and W. L. Mayo. 1991. “Australian tea tree oil: a natural antiseptic and fungicidal agent.” Aust. J. Pharm. 72:802-803
5. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV, Nielsen JB (May 2006). “A review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil”. Food Chemistry Toxicology 44: 616–625
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