Cajuput (Melaleuca leucadendron) is an evergreen tree that grows up to 30 metres in height with white flowers and thick pointed leaves. The bark is spongy and flakes off easily. Cajuput (sometimes spelt ‘cajeput’) grows wild in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Java, Australia and South Eastern Asia.
The oil, which has a top keynote, is extracted from the leaves and twigs by steam distillation.
A member of the Myrtaceae family, cajuput is used in both Eastern medicine and European herbal traditions.
Cineol (up to 65%), nerolidol, pinene, terpineol.
Body systems affected:
Immune, respiratory, urinary, structural
Main therapeutic properties:
Antiseptic (pulmonary and urinary), antispasmodic, expectorant [helps to expel phlegm], tonic.
Secondary therapeutic properties:
Analgesic, anthelminitic [expels/destroys parasitic worms, especially of the intestine], antimicrobial, carminative [relieves flatulence], diaphoretic [promotes perspiration], febrifuge [reduces fever], insecticide.
Main therapeutic use:
Asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, cystitis, shallow breathing, sinus problems, sore throats, tuberculosis, urinary infections.
Secondary therapeutic use:
Arthritis, chills, colds and flu, diarrhoea, dysentery, greasy skin conditions, insect bites, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, roundworm, viral infections.
Non-toxic and non-sensitising. May cause skin irritation. [Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy: An A-Z writes that the oil ‘must never be allowed to come in contact with the mucous membranes’.]
Highly regarded for respiratory ailments, this oil is also an effective energy balancer and can quicken the pulse. Used in moderation can be very effective on oily skin.
Cajuput is used as a fragrance and refreshing agent in soaps, cosmetics, detergents and perfumes. The oil is sometimes used in dentistry and pharmaceutical work as an antiseptic.