encyclopedia

Cajeput Oil

Scientific Names:     

Melaleuca leucadendron L. [Fam. Myrtaceae]    
    

Forms:

Volatile oil extract of the leaves and twigs of the cajeput tree.
    

Traditional Usage:

– Acne
– Acute Breathing Difficulties
– Antibacterial
– Antispasmodic
– Bone and Joint Disorders
– Bone and Joint Pain
– Breathing Problems
– Bronchitis
– Cholera
– Colds and Coughs
– Cramps
– Digestive Disorders
– Earache
– Eczema
– Epilepsy
– Expectorant
– Flu
– Gastrointestinal
– Headache
– Hiccups
– Insect Repellent (mosquitoes, lice and fleas)
– Intestinal Worms
– Laryngitis
– Muscle and joint pain
– Neuralgia
– Pneumonia
– Sinusitis
– Skin Abnormal Growths
– Skin inflammations and irritations
– Sore throat
– Toothache
– Urinary System Disorders
– Vascular Disorders
– Viral Infections     
    

Overview:     

Oil from the cajeput tree, Melaleuca leucadendron L. [Fam. Myrtaceae], when vaporized soothes bronchial and sinus passages and relieves sore throat. Cajeput oil is often used in combination with other medicinal oils for treating bronchitis, colds, coughs, laryngitis, pharyngitis and pneumonia; it is especially used in cold and flu remedies and cough pastilles. Cajeput essential oil, like that of eucalyptus, also has stimulant and relaxant activity and is used both internally and externally. When taken internally, it warms the stomach and reputedly may cause rapid pulse and perspiration if taken in excessive amounts. Cajeput oil, properly diluted, has also traditionally been used as a douche to treat cystitis, urethritis, and urinary infections. According to Dr. James Duke in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, cajeput is also a folk remedy for acne, bruises, colic, diarrhea, earache, eczema, headache, hiccups, inflammation, malaria, neuralgia, paralysis, psoriasis, rheumatism, scabies, scurvy, spasms, strains, toothache and abnormal growths. Cajeput oil is reported to be antiseptic, astringent, carminative, emollient, rubefacient, sedative, stimulant and vermifuge. In Burma, cajeput oil is mixed with camphor for treating bone and joint disorders and pain, and in Indonesia the oil is used externally for treating burns, cramps, colic, earache, headache, pain, skin disease and toothache. In Malaysia, the oil is used as a pain killer and digestive aid and a small amount is added to sugar for treating cholera and colic. Cajeput oil has strong antibacterial activity and the main active agents obtained from the essential oil were found to include 1,8-cineole (or eucalyptol), linalool, alpha-terpineol and terpinen-4-ol. Vietnamese cajeput oil has been deemed effective as an antibacterial for local application in modern medical practices. Additionally, combinations of cajeput oil with conventional antibiotics have been shown to potentiate therapeutic activities. Research shows no influence of cajeput aqueous extract on prostaglandin biosynthesis.    
    

Active Ingredients:     

Cajeput oil contains: 1,8-cineol (14-65%), terpineol, terpinyl acetate, pinene, nerolidol, both free and as an ester of acetic acid, and small amounts of terpenes, such as laevo-pinene. Other compounds include: 20(29)-ene-3beta,17beta-diol, (2E,6E)-farnesol, phytol, squalene, alloaromadendrene, ledene, palustrol, viridiflorol, ledol, betulinaldehyde, betulinic acid, 3beta-acetyl-lup-20(29)-en-28-oic acid, 3-oxolup-20(29)-en-28-oic acid, and platanic acid.    
    

Suggested Amount:     

The dosage for internal use is 1 to 10 drops on sugar, in an emulsion, or in a cough pastille.
External Dosage: Dilute in carrier oil and apply 3 or 4 times a day for insect bites and stings, muscle pain and bone and joint pain.
    

Drug Interactions:     

None known.    
    

Contraindications:     

Due to insufficient safety information, cajeput oil is contraindicated for internal use during pregnancy. Cajeput oil is also contraindicated for internal use when there is inflammation present. Cajeput oil should be diluted before internal or external use.
    

Side Effects:     

Taken internally, cajeput oil may cause rapid pulse and perspiration if taken in excessive amounts. Externally, cajeput oil may cause skin irritation when used in high concentrations. Cajeput oil should be diluted before internal or external use.    
    

References:     
    
Duke JA. 1992. Melaleuca leucadendra (L.) L. – Cajeput. In Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 366.
 
Duke JA. 1985. Melaleuca leucadendron L. (Myrtaceae) – Cajeput. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Pp. 301-302.
 
Hiermann A, Bucar F. 1994. Influence of some traditional medicinal plants of Senegal on prostaglandin biosynthesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 1994 Apr; 42(2): 111-6.
 
Jedlickova Z, Mottl O, Sery V. 1992. Antibacterial properties of the Vietnamese cajeput oil and ocimum oil in combination with antibacterial agents. J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 1992; 36(3): 303-9.
 
Lee CK. 1998. A New Norlupene from the Leaves of Melaleuca leucadendron L.  J Nat Prod. 1998 Mar 27; 61(3): 375-6.