There are two different species commonly called cajuput, both producing essential oils (Melaleuca cajuputii) and (Melaleuca leucadendron). The one we want in aromatherapy is Melaleuca cajuputii with its high 1,8 cineole content. Melaleuca leucadendron, on the other hand is a methyl eugenol chemotype, or methyl iso-eugenol chemotype. Another illustration of why it is important to identify the botanical name and the chemical content of an oil.
Both of these trees are members of the Myrtaceae family, These large evergreen trees have a whitish spongy bark and grow up to 30 metres high. Cajuput is native to Australia and southeastern Asia and was introduced into south Florida in the early 20th century where it has invaded three of the four major ecosystem types of south Florida, including sawgrass prairies and mangrove and cypress swamps. It is spread by fire, and within one week of a fire it is re-sprouting prolifically. A burned tree can release millions of seeds which are dispersed by wind and water. The tree is considered to be a major ecological threat to the Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
A clear to pale yellow essential oil is steam distilled from the fresh leaves and twigs with a yield of between 0.5 – 2.5%. Its major components are: oxides (1,8 cineole) 14 – 65%; alcohols (terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpinenol and linalool) up to 47%; monoterpenes (alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, limonene) up to 40%.
Cajuput has been used in expectorant and tonic formulations as well as in antiseptic liniments. In dentistry, it is used for discomfort due to dry sockets. Used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes with a maximum use level of 0.4% in perfumes.
It has analgesic, expectorant, decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties and blends well with bergamot, cypress, juniper, lemon, pine and rosemary.
Psychologically, cajuput has been used to help clear thought and fight apathy.
On the physiological level it has been used for insect bites, toothache, colds, headaches, sore and aching muscles, rheumatism and various skin diseases.
Contraindications: Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic.
Albert Y. Leung & Steven Foster , Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000…20011
Cajuput is covered in the Aromatherapy 201 Course
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