Many people are familiar with eucalyptus as a beneficial treatment for nasal and chest congestion. Still, the power of this plant doesn’t end with treating the symptoms of the common cold. For hundreds of years, humans have used various parts of these trees to combat ailments. But, what is responsible for the incredible healing capacity of eucalyptus, and what are the effects of eucalyptus tea?
Eucalyptus: A Very Functional Plant
Most eucalyptus varieties are evergreen, producing their robust foliage year-round. These trees originated nearly 50 million years ago and are sometimes called gum trees due to a thick substance extruded through the trunk. The leaves are the source of fragrant air fresheners as well as eucalyptus oil. This oil is a beneficial ingredient found in cough and cold medication and is used to treat fevers. The microbial properties of eucalyptus oil complement the many eucalyptus tea benefits for the body.
Worldwide, there are more than 700 species of the eucalyptus tree, and almost all are native to Australia and the surrounding islands, with one species native to the Philippines. Humans have introduced these trees to many other temperate parts of the globe with varying levels of success for both the eucalyptus trees and the area’s natural ecosystem.
Making Eucalyptus Tea
Despite the hundreds of varieties of trees, only one type, the blue gum, is suitable for eucalyptus tea preparation. The blue gum is a rapidly growing tree with long, grayish-green leaves. These leaves contain the highly-prized eucalyptus oil used in applications from clearing up a congested chest to disinfecting wounds to controlling blood sugar levels. However, eucalyptus tea is not derived from oil but from crushed, dried eucalyptus leaves.
Eucalyptus tea is light green containing solid hints of the plant’s fresh, woodsy fragrance, and is sold in many supermarkets and health food stores in bags and loose varieties. The tea is naturally caffeine-free and contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that assist the body in fighting free radicals found in the environment.
Eucalyptus Tea Benefits
Eucalyptus leaves contain heavy amounts of beneficial flavonoids. Studies have shown that a diet rich in these metabolites is a preventative tool against several types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Research is ongoing, but these substances appear to interfere with the cancer cells’ reproductive cycle, reducing the opportunity for invasive takeover and proliferation.
In addition to being a rich source of antioxidants, eucalyptus tea is also high in anti-inflammatory compounds. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to pain or an invasion by a virus or disease-causing bacteria. The immune system dispatches inflammatory cells to attack the contaminants and repair damaged tissue. However, sometimes the immune system sends out inflammatory cells when no threat exists, leading to a condition known as chronic inflammation.
Over time, chronic inflammation has a devastating effect on healthy body tissues and organs. Abdominal pain, widespread joint pain, and arthritis are some of the symptoms of long-term damage caused by chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, many acute health conditions are associated with chronic inflammation, and research indicates that it may play a role in the development of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Adding eucalyptus tea to your diet can be a simple way to enrich your body’s defenses, but make sure you’re adding eucalyptus tea and not eucalyptus oil, as consumption of pure eucalyptus oil can be toxic.