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I have a big Eucalyptus Gunnii (If I am not mistaken) tree just out my door. It smells splendid and I have always wanted to know if I could make tea out of its leaves. However, something stops me: I don't know this tree, it could be dangerous to ingest. Can you tell me otherwise?

This is what the tree looks like:

eucalyptus_leaves

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I think I remember that the young leaves contain cyanide, while the old ones are OK - it was from a Grzimek book, but I don't have the book here to check. –  rumtscho May 17 '12 at 19:59
    
I hope thats a joke, I read that Australian pioneers used to make tea with these leaves as a secondary ingredient elsewhere so I went and made myself some tea. I have drank a glass already, it was very bitter. –  Wolter Hellmund May 17 '12 at 21:42
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No, it is no joke - a quick Google search found somebody quoting the cyanide part from another Grzimek book, cheryl-kraynak.suite101.com/what-do-koalas-eat-a98285. I don't know how dangerous the one cup of tea could be, but people can eat small quantities of cyanide without ill effects, e.g. in bitter almonds. If you think you might have digested a dangerous amount, I think that there are hotlines equipped to give help for poisoning, maybe there is one for your area. The bitterness alone doesn't mean you had cyanide for sure, not all euc. species have it. –  rumtscho May 17 '12 at 22:29
    
The toxicity is even mentioned on Wikipedia... –  Ray May 17 '12 at 23:44
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Nvermind, nothing happened. Thanks for the help! –  Wolter Hellmund May 20 '12 at 1:35
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Eucalyptus is technically poisonous, but it depends on amount.

Concentrated Eucalyptus Oil, like an essential oil, should always be kept out of reach of children and have a childproof cap, for example (http://www.poisons.co.nz/fact.php?f=27). It is a dangerous and confusing point because, like clove oil which is also poisonous in sufficient amounts, it is used in various remedies in small amounts. Of course, when you have a concentrated oil, "sufficient amounts" is relatively small. Putting a leaf in some tea is quite different.

There are a number of places on the web selling Eucalyptus tea and giving recipes, but the general recommendation is not to drink too much or make it too strong. The general recommended amount is 1/2 tsp dried leaves or one torn up fresh leaf per cup of water, and 1-3 cups per day.

This responsible looking website notes some safety issues: http://www.eucalyptusoil.com/safety

This website gives more details of the chemicals found in Eucalyptus, and tells you how to make a tea. It also gives a list of medical conditions which indicate you shouldn't drink Eucalyptus tea. http://www.livestrong.com/article/523149-what-is-eucalyptus-tea-good-for/

Another website also contraindicates eucalyptus for use with some drugs - 5-Fluorouracil, Pentobarbital, Amphetamine (I can't provide source because not enough reputation to post the extra link)

Note: Many things that are contained in various herbal remedies and so on contain active ingredients that can ... have all sorts of effects. So everyone should research them themselves or check with a Natural Health Practitioner or doctor first before taking them with medications, or giving them to small children, pregnant women, asthmatics or any high-risk health group.

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Thank you for your answer, you are certainly a better researcher than I am haha. –  Wolter Hellmund Jul 9 '12 at 1:57
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