Aromatic, evergreen tree growing to 130 ft (40 m). Has peeling bark, pale green oval leaves, and clusters of small white flowers on long spikes.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Southeast Asia, cajuput is cultivated for its essential oil and timber. The leaves and twigs are gathered throughout the year.
The volatile oil contains terpenoids, mainly cineole (50–60%), beta-pinene, alpha-terpineol, and others. Cineole is strongly antiseptic. Early investigations suggest the fruit may have antiviral properties.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Cajuput is normally combined with other essential oils such as eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). Its antiseptic properties treat colds, sore throats, coughs, and, especially, chest infections. The diluted oil may either be steam-inhaled or applied to the chest or throat to treat laryngitis, tracheitis, and bronchitis. As cajuput stimulates the circulation and is antispasmodic, it is used as a friction rub for rheumatic joints and neuralgia.
Niaouli (M. viridiflora), of New Caledonia, has properties similar to those of cajuput. See also tea tree (M. alternifolia).
Take internally only under professional supervision. Do not use during pregnancy. Cajuput essential oil is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.