Grandma Charlene really knew how to take care of a sick kid. She’d bundle you onto her paisley-pink couch with homemade quilts tucked up to your armpits and a pillow behind your head. She’d turn on a movie – anyone you wanted – while she made a batch of doughnuts in the kitchen. Later she’d get a jar of mentholated cream and spread it across your shoulder and back. Breath in, she’d say, while the cool, soothing vapors cleared your sinuses, opened your chest and relaxed your muscles. The next thing you knew you’d slept for two hours and felt much better … definitely ready for another doughnut.
Grandma knew her stuff. Eucalyptus globulus, or Eucalyptus essential oil, is the active ingredient in most mentholated rubs. It is extremely potent, and requires care and knowledge for safe use. It has a strong, minty, medicinal aroma, and is thought of as a muscle relaxer, immune booster, and respiratory aid. It can be a powerful tool for older kids and adults when they are suffering from coughs, colds, and congestion, but it has to be diluted before you use it on skin. It is just too strong for young ones, diluted or not. Don’t use it on infants or children under six years old, and definitely keep it out of their reach … it can be poisonous if swallowed. It shouldn’t ever be taken by mouth, rubbed in your nose, or used near your eyes. Also be aware that it can affect people who have high blood pressure or diabetes.
To make an all-natural version of Grandma’s rub, try this:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grated Bees wax
20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
1 drop lemon, lavender, or cedarwood
- Put oils and wax in the glass jar and place in a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Warm jar with a medium/low heat. Stir to combine.
- Allow to cool slightly and add essential oils. Stir.
- Pour into storage containers and allow to set.
Or for a simpler rub, dilute eucalyptus in a carrier oil. Start with a 1% dilution (5 drops of essential oil for each ounce of carrier oil or lotion). You can increase that to a 2% dilution (10 drops per ounce of carrier oil) after testing the lower strength. Either mix is great to treat congestion, to rub on muscles after exercise, or for muscle cramps and charley horses. Eucalyptus can also be used in a diffuser, just keep in mind that it is a strong oil and use it sparingly – and again, don’t use it around small kids or babies.
Eucalyptus essential oil blends really well with other oils. Try it with floral aromas such as lavender or with wood-smelling oils such as cedarwood for a powerful, fresh, earthy note.
It is also useful around the house. Mix it with lemon or tea tree oil and water in a spray bottle and shake well for a mist to battle the funkiest of stinks. Use it in your teen’s shoes, on the dog bed, or add a stronger dilution to your laundry for a fresh fragrance