Most of us are looking for ways to live healthier—for ourselves and for the planet. Some ideas make a small difference, but, once in a while, we find something that really makes a significant boost in our quest for a well-balanced, healthy life. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is one of truly make a difference for overall health and well-being.
Though lemon eucalyptus sounds like a blend of eucalyptus and lemon essential oils, that isn’t the case. Lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) are both part of the Myrtle family. In fact, until 1990, both were classified as genus Eucalyptus, reinforcing that the species are related.1
Lemon eucalyptus is an herb that is sometimes referred to as citriodora oil. Unlike most herbs we are familiar with, it is a tree, growing up to 60 to 100 feet or taller. This beauty is high in demand for timber, honey production, essential oils, plus the koala bear finds its leaves most delectable. The tree is native to northeastern Australia, where it grows in a temperate and tropical climate. Today, lemon eucalyptus trees are also grown in Brazil and China.
The plant makes a lovely ornamental in warmer climates. It has striking white, smooth bark, sword-shaped gray-green leaves with tiny white blooms, depending on climate.2
Lemon eucalyptus carries some of the benefits of eucalyptus in providing respiratory support, in addition to a range of other health benefits. High concentrations of citronellal in lemon eucalyptus creates not only a fresh scent allows for its wide-ranging uses, from effective insect repellent to powerful anti-fungal agent.
The History of Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The Australian Aboriginals considered lemon eucalyptus a fever-reducer, a solution for gastric problems, and a remedy for infectious diseases. The same herb is used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine in steam for clearing nasal congestion, easing symptoms of colds, flu, and asthma. A paste of the leaves was used in various cultures to heal wounds, skin infections, blisters, joint and other rheumatic pains, and fungal infections.3
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In the mid-1800s, Joseph Bosisto a young pharmacist from England arrived in Australia seeking his fortune in the Gold Rush. It seems he was more interested in exploring native plants than looking for gold, however. He began studying the healing properties of Australian plants with a particular interest in varieties of eucalyptus. In 1852, he began using steam distillation to produce Bosisto’s Parrot Brand Eucalyptus Oil. This is one of the oldest, commercially-marketed essential oils.4
The therapeutic power of lemon eucalyptus essential oil begins with citronellal, a terpene aldehyde which comprises up to 80 percent of the oil. Terpenoids are a large, diverse class of naturally-occurring organic compounds that are common in essential oils.
Generally, terpenes inhibit the accumulation of toxins and assist in the excretion of toxins through the liver and kidneys. Additionally, citronellal has excellent insect repellent properties and adds to the oil’s fresh lemon scent.
Citronellol is a monoterpene alcohol which has insect repellent properties and is highly effective against mosquitoes. Citronellol is also used in many perfumes for its rose-like scent.
Another component of lemon eucalyptus essential oil, geraniol, is a terpene with a rose-like scent used in many flavorings. Research has also shown geraniol to be an insect repellent and antioxidant.5
Isopulegol has been shown to calm the nervous system, in addition to positively affecting gastrointestinal health.
- Citronellal: 40–80 percent
- Citronellol: 15–20 percent
- Geraniol: 10 percent*
- Isopulegol: 5 percent
- Other terpene esters
* Composition varies depending on the source of oil
Uses for Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The therapeutic strengths of lemon eucalyptus essential oil include antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, deodorant, expectorant, and insecticidal properties. Some of the primary uses for lemon eucalyptus essential oil are highlighted below.
Maintains Healthy Respiratory Function
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil supports the respiratory system in a variety of ways. First, it combats bacterial and viral infections of the respiratory system. It also is an expectorant, helping to thin out and remove mucus from the lungs and sinuses.
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil can also be useful for remedying the symptoms of asthma, colds, sore throats, and coughs.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. An adult has an average of 20 square feet of it protecting the body. The skin retains fluids and moisture while keeping away harmful toxins and microbes. Wounds, cuts, sores, and burns are a break in this important protector of the body.
The antimicrobial properties in lemon eucalyptus are particularly beneficial for these remedying these situations. Studies have shown that lemon eucalyptus is a particularly effective essential oil in the case of wounds, cuts, and burns, athlete’s foot, or dandruff.6
In 2008, a broad-reach study was conducted in India to explore the antimicrobial effects of lemon eucalyptus oil. Corymbia citriodora essential oil was tested and found effective in removing Candida albicans (yeast) and Escherichia coli.
The essential oil also was found to be active against Trichophyton rubrum (the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, a fungal infection of the nails, jock itch, and ringworm) and Cryptococcus neoformans (an airborne fungus damaging to those with compromised immune systems.)7
Body aches, whether due to overexertion, injury, or inflammation can respond well to lemon eucalyptus essential oil. In particular, joint pain can be reduced with a nice essential oil massage to muscles surrounding the affected joint.
In a study released in 2003 by researchers in Brazil, lemon eucalyptus oil was shown to significantly reduce pain. Interestingly, this pain relief was not dose-related, and of all oils tested, lemon eucalyptus was most effective. The same study showed this same oil to be an effective anti-inflammatory.8
In another study published in 2011 from Brazil, similar results were found when testing citronellal alone.9
Out of all essential oils researched as an insect repellent, lemon eucalyptus has shown outstanding results. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in many commercial mosquito repellents. Studies have shown this ingredient to be equally effective to DEET without the negative side effects.10
Cleaning with or diffusing lemon eucalyptus essential oil in your home can clean, sanitize, and refresh. Try adding it to your favorite homemade cleaning product to boost its efficacy. Additionally, this oil has excellent deodorizing properties, removing unpleasant odors due to mold or smoke.
Safety and Precautions
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is generally nontoxic, but as with all essential oils should be used with care and at proper dilutions. Additionally, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil before topical application.
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil can be a skin irritant, depending on the individual, so always conduct a patch skin test at low concentrations (less than three drops per one teaspoon of carrier oil) before using the oil on larger areas of the body.
Many of us are aware of and concerned for the state of our health and our planet. Our decisions about the foods we eat and the products we use on our bodies and in our homes are made with the intent of encouraging health, vitality, and sustainability.
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil seems to fit these important value in so many ways. Try incorporating this beneficial essential oil into your daily routine, whether in a topical application or aromatic use in a room diffuser or personal essential oil diffuser.