Cajuputi oil is extracted from Melaleuca cajuputi (closely related to M. leucadendron and also known as M. Minor) of the Myrtaceae family. The name cajeput dereives from the Malaysian word ‘kayu-putih’ meaning white wood. The tree is highly regarded in the east and has many therapeutic and herbal uses. In Australia it is usually a medium-sized tree to about 25 m tall with a single stem. In some situations it may be reduced to a shrub but in the Northern Territory it can be over 40 m tall and 120 cm diameter. It has the potential for moderately fast growth. The bark is layered and papery. The crown has a somewhat silvery appearance as young shoots are covered in dense silky hairs. Australian aboriginals traditionally used this plant as a rubefacient and an analgesic. The leaf infusion was rubbed locally onto the chest or aching joints, or utilised as an inhalant(the leaves crushed or the steam from the infusion inhaled) to relieve congestions associated with colds and influenza. It was also used for respiratory infections.
The therapeutic properties of cajuput oil include analgesic, anti-neuralgic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, decongestant, expectorant, insecticide, febrifuge, carminative, stimulant, sudorific, vermifuge and tonic. By promoting sweating, cajuput oil cools down the body and helps with infections such as colds, laryngitis and bronchitis. It is also helpful for asthma, sinusitis and a sore throat. It calms the digestive system, soothes colic, enteritis, dysentery, vomiting. Spasms, arthritis, rheumatism and muscular aches and pains can also benefit from it. Not only does it help with skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, it is also used to ward off insect bites from lice and fleas.
The oil is prepared from leaves collected on a hot dry day, macerated in water, and distilled after fermenting for a night. It is frequently employed externally as a counterirritant. It is an ingredient in some liniments for sore muscles such as Tiger Balm and Indonesian traditional medicine Minyak Telon. It is also used as an ingredient in inhalants/decongestants and topical pain/inflammation remedies such as Olbas Oil.
Cajeputi oil can be found in many products including blended creams for face and body, decongestant balms, massage oils, vaporizer oils, bath oils, candles, soaps and hair products.