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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
WHAT IS SAFEDA TREE? EUCALYPTUS TREE - MEDICINAL BENEFITS AND USES: HOW TO MAKE EUCALYPTUS LEAVES TISANE
There are around seven hundred species of eucalyptus trees, which have their origins in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. They are a fast-growing species that can withstand drought because their deep roots can take up underground water. This hardy species of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) have now spread around the world to the Mediterranean region, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent and to the US among other places. As members of the myrtle family they are related to cloves, allspice and guava (amrood).
The tree that predominates in Greece and Pakistan is Eucalyptus camaldulensis and this is the one featured in this post. The medicinal oil comes from E. globulus or the Blue Gum, which gets its Latin name because it resembles a globe-shaped button that was popular in France towards the end of the 19th century when the tree was given its botanical name. Flowers on different species may be single ones or bloom in clusters which are on the whole without stalks, or which have tiny ones. Be careful as the bark of some species of eucalyptus can cause dermatitis.
In Australia koalas like to eat leaves from these trees, and can consume between 2½ to 3 pounds a day. Eucalyptus honey is prized as is the oil which is obtained from the leaves and tops of branches. The tree also yields timber which is durable and strong and can be used as fuel. However care should be taken not to burn freshly cut branches as the wood and seeds emit sparks that can easily start a fire and burn you if you are too close.
Some species are on the threatened list in their native Australia and are under threat in Pakistan where they are believed to be destroying native plants by depleting the ground of water. Originally trees were imported and planted to help reduce flood waters, and because they are fast-growing and give plenty of shade; also they are able to withstand adverse weather conditions. In the province of Punjab they line the roads and fields, but they are being cut down to be replaced by native trees such as the kikar (Acacia nilotica), neem (Azadirachta indica), and kachnar (Bauhinia variegata) trees. The planting of eucalyptus tree in Pakistan began in the 1960s and gathered pace in the early 1990s when aid was received for reforestation from USAID. Now they are being blamed for consuming “underground water unnecessarily” by a Pakistani spokesman for the IUCN, the world conservation union. They were also described as “environmentally unfriendly” in 2006 by a spokesman from the Environmental Protection Department of Punjab province.
However they are useful in the match-stick making industry and in the process of tobacco curing, as 200,000 are felled annually for those industries.
In some countries where planting began earlier, the trees deep roots were welcomed as they could dry marshy land which was a breeding ground for malaria bearing mosquitoes, so the trees had their uses. In Pakistan the leaves are gathered and hung close to a baby or young child to protect him/her from diseases and to keep insects away.
Most people have resorted to menthol and eucalyptus lozenges when they have blocked sinuses, a cold, cough or sore throat, and the tisane made from the chopped leaves given below can be used for the same purposes. However if you have asthma don’t touch eucalyptus as it can bring on an attack. The tisane can also help to reduce fevers.
The oil from eucalyptus is traditionally used to treat diabetes, and medical research is proving that this may be a correct treatment, although more research needs to be done before it is proved conclusively. Eucalyptus oil can be used for arthritis, to get rid of boils and sores, heal and clean wounds and to repel insects. It is rich in cineole which is a powerful antiseptic that kills the bacteria that cause bad breath (halitosis). It is also effectively used as smelling salts if someone faints.
The leaves contain tannins which have astringent qualities, and which can reduce inflammation, and flavonoids such as quercetin, which has strong antioxidant properties.
In 19th century British hospitals, eucalyptus oil was used to thoroughly clean some medical items, as it has anti-bacterial qualities.
The Aborigines, the native Australians, used the eucalyptus trees to make boats, boomerangs and spears. They also used it medicinally, using ointments made from it to heal wounds and to cure fungal infections such as ringworm.
Eucalyptus has many uses, but is often not a good imported species as is so often the case.
TISANE OF EUCALYPTUS LEAVES
½ tsp chopped fresh eucalyptus leaves
1 cup boiling water
a few sprigs of mint
Pour the boiling water over the leaves and leave to steep for 10-15 minutes before straining and drinking.
Drink a cup three times a day for colds, sinus obstructions, coughs, sore throats (also a gargle and wash for skin problems), fevers and flu.
This has Taste and is a Treat(ment).