Saturday, June 2, 2012

My First Love

My first essential oil Love, was Australian Eukalyptus oil!

My mother is an Ozzie, who grew up on a farm out in the bush some hours from Sydney and one of my earliest childhood memories is her drizzling eukalyptus oil onto my pillow when i was sick as a dog during one of the typical grey wet and miserable English winters.
the effect was immediate... the strong clean nip of the oil began to cut through the foggy muck in my nose and chest, and I began to breath more also cooled my aching head, and cleared my fevered brain a bit too...
from that point on, eucalyptus oil equalled healing and memories of being soothed and looked after by my mother for me....
It's what my grandfather used to do for her as a kid too, and the scent followed me through my childhood.
When I eventually came back to Australia in my late teens, the scent wafting from the eucalyptus trees at the airport welcomed me like a long lost daughter, and I felt immediately at home.....

Eucalyptus trees cover the whole Australian landscape. They grow pretty much everywhere in this vast country, from tropical rain forests in the north to the dry arid desert areas in the centre where I'm currently writing from.
The leaves from the many varieties of eucalyptus have been used by the indigenous people for many centuries...they use them for healing colds and coughs by inhaling the vapors from the leaves both simply crushed and also steamed in hot water.
but they also use them in spiritual "smoking ceremonies" in a similar way to the use of white sage and cedarwood in American Indian "Smudging".
This is done in conjunction with many kinds of ceremonies, to cleanse the body and spirit of "bad energies". I went to a women's conference here a few days ago, and the local elders made everyone walk through thick clouds of smoke before entering the building and beginning the conference. it is used as part of "welcome to country" greeting ceremonies nowadays before many kinds of official meetings, opening new buildings etc, to acknowledge local traditional ownership and out of respect to the ancestors....

The energy and effect of Eucalyptus is cleansing...the oil is antiseptic, dissolves mucous in clogged up airways and is also cooling...
the scent is clear and astringent, with similar notes to mint, rosemary and pine.
It's one of the most useful and commonly used of all essential oils in the average household out here. All supermarkets stock it, and it is used for everything from the traditional few drops on your pillow for colds and flu, to dissolving that annoying leftover bit of glue from labels on wine glasses.

Australians love to suck on eucalyptus lollies during winter to clear their noses and soothe sore throats...but like many essential oils, apart from the tiny amounts used in lollies, it's better inhaled than swallowed. Taken internally, it can drop blood pressure dangerously, esp in small children, so be sure to keep it out of kids reach!

My favorite eucalyptus is from a lemon scented gum, that has a tangy citrus overtone to the cooling menthol clarity....
I often combine it with things like lavender, pine and lemon oil, and add a few drops to the water I use to wash down benches or mop the floor with.
It seems to impart a lovely clarity to the air of a room, as well as being a marvelous natural disinfectant.

Wonderful stuff!

The photos below are

a) two beautiful gum trees growing in the dry creek bed of the Todd river in Alice springs and
b) a small ghost gum at Kunjurra, near Tennant Creek

Both in Central Australia

Below is the list of Guild members taking part in the My First Love project, Do check out their sites for more first love stories!



  1. Hi Ambrosia - I never would have guessed eucalyptus! There are a lot that grow here in Florida and there are beautiful stands of them in California, too. I love being in a grove of them, inhaling the beautiful aroma. It wasn't until later, when I studied aromatherapy, that I came to know the healing properties of this useful genus. I really love the lemon-scented one too!

  2. How lovely to hear your memories of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus was also used here for cold and flu. I remember huge pots of eucalyptus leaves boiling on the stove during flu time, said to keep away the flu and clean the air.

  3. Hi Ambrosia, what is an Ozzie? (many excuses for my ignorance, being a northern european :-)

    I really liked reading your blog, it gives me the impression of a deeply inspirational environment, especially from now on curing my regular flues in scandinavian wintertime with Eucalyptus...