Essential Oils

Earth-Essences

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CAJEPUT- Melaleuca cajeputi

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonyms M. minor, cajuput, white tea tree, white wood, swamp tea tree, punk tree, paperbark tree.

General Description

A tall evergreen tree up to 30 metres high, with thick pointed leaves and white flowers. The flexible trunk has a whitish spongy bark which flakes off easily. In Malaysia it is called 'caju-puti', meaning 'white wood', due to the colour of the timber.

Distribution: It grows wild in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Java, Australia and South eastern Asia.


Other Species

Several other varieties of Melaleuca are used to produce cajeput oil, such as M.quinquenervia- see Botanical Classification section. Closely related to other members of the Melaleuca group, notably Eucalyptus, clove, niaouli and tea tree.

Herbal and Folk Tradition

Held in high regard in the East, it is used locally for colds, headaches,throat infections, toothache, sore and aching muscles, fever (cholera0, rehumatism and various skin diseases. Only the oil is used in the Western herbal tradition, known for producing a sensation of warmth and quickening the pulse.

It is used for chronic laryngitis and bronchitis, cystitis, rehumatism and to expel roundworm.

Actions

Mildly analgesic, antimicrobial, antineuralgic, antispasmodic, antiseptic (pulmonary, urinary, intestianl), anthelmintic, diaphoretic, carminative, expectorant, febrifuge,insecticide, sudorific, tonic.


Extraction

Essential oil by steam distillation from the fresh leaves and twigs.

Characteristics

A pale yellowy-green, mobile liquid (the green tinge from traces of copper found in the tree) with a penetrating, camphoraceous-medicinal odour. Compared with Eucalyptus oil, it has a slightly milder fruity body note.

Principal Constituents

Cineol (14-65 per cent depending on source), terpineol, terpinyl acetate, pinene, nerolidol and other traces.

Safety Data

Non-toxic, non-sensitizing, may irritate the skin in high concentration.

Aromatherapy Home Use

Skin care: Insect bites, oily skin, spots.

Circulation muscles and Joints: Arthritis,muscular aches and pains, rehumatism.

Respiratory system: Asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sinusitis, sore throat.

Genito-Urinary system: Cystitis, urethritis, urinary infection.

Immune system: Colds, 'flu, viral infections.

Other Uses: Used in dentistry and pharmaceutical work as an antiseptic; in expectorant tonic formulations, throat lozenges and perfumes. Occasionally employed as a flavour component in food products and soft drinks.

Reference: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Julia Lawless

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