Why eucalyptus helps kick colds

Haven’t got time to fight off any nasty bugs this winter? Eucalyptus could provide you with an all-natural source of relief, even if you’re not a koala-fied doctor.

Eucalyptus is found in many household products, from cleaning sprays and disinfectants to sweets and sore throat lozenges. But what does it actually do?

In a new episode of Food Unwrapped, Kate Quilton investigates why products containing eucalyptus are so prolific on our supermarket shelves during cold and flu season.

After being harvested from native Australian trees, eucalyptus leaves are steam distilled to extract their oil, which contains the active ingredient eucalyptol.

Although it’s toxic to humans, the right dose can have natural antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties if used correctly.

Studies have proven eucalyptol’s effectiveness in reducing the body’s anti-inflammatory response during a cold. The organic compound helps decongest your respiratory system, inhibit mucus production and aids you in breathing more effectively.

For natural relief from a cold, try filling a bowl with eucalyptus leaves from your garden and pouring over hot water. Inhale the steam from the bowl with a towel around your head, which will help trap the vapour.

The eucalyptol in the leaves will act as an anti-inflammatory, helping to clear your blocked nose and relieve the pressure on your sinuses.

You can also use eucalyptus oil in a decongestant salve. Rub it into your chest and under your nose to help clear the airwaves and break up the phlegm.

Or, you can make your own disinfectant using eucalyptus oil, white vinegar and water. Spray it on your keyboard, phone and door handles to get rid of unwanted germs.

Food Unwrapped continues weeknights at 7pm on Lifestyle Food.

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