Niaouli is obtained from the Melaleuca viridiflora, and is so very closely related to Cajeput (Melaleuca leucodrendron) that the two are sometimes confused. However there are sufficient differences in the composition, odour and properties of the two oils to make such confusion inexcusable, and no good supplier will substitute one for the other. You may occasionally find this oil sold under its old name of Gomenol which originated from the fact that it used to be distilled near, and shipped from, the port of Gomen in the French East Indies, hence ‘Gomen-oil’. Now most supplies come from Australia.
The oil is obtained from the leaves and young twigs, and varies from pale to dark yellow. It has a very strong, hot, camphorous odour and contains between 50% and 60% of cineol, eucalyptol, terpineol, pinene, limonene and various esters.
The reason why it is so important to distinguish clearly between this oil and its ‘cousin’ is that unlike Cajeput which is a skin irritant, Niaouli is well tolerated by the skin and mucous membranes when used in suitable dilutions. It can therefore be safely used for massage, as a gargle and even as a vaginal douche, it has been used in hospitals in France as an antiseptic in Obstetrics and gynaecology.
It is also suitable for cleaning minor wounds and burns. For cuts and grazes, especially if any dirt has got into them at the time of injury, mix 5 or 6 drops of Niaouli in ½ pint (250 mls) of boiled and cooled water and wash out repeatedly. For burns, the oil can be sprinkled neat on a sterile gauze and fastened over the burn. It is a powerful tissue-stimulant and will therefore help healing.
Because it is non-irritant and powerfully antiseptic, this is a good oil for the treatment of acne and similar skin conditions such as boils. This should not be your first choice of an oil for acne but because treatment so often needs to be continued over a long period of time, it is important to have some alternatives and vary the oil used every few weeks.
Niaouli is good for all respiratory tract infections, whether they affect the nose, throat or chest, and is used in chest rubs as well as INHALATIONS. It is quite a powerful stimulant, so it is better not to use it late in the evening, unless mixed with more sedative oils such as Lavender, or sleep may be disturbed.
A little-known but very valuable use of Niaouli is in conjunction with radiation therapy for CANCER. A thin layer of Niaouli applied to the skin before each session of cobalt therapy gives some protection against burning of the skin and has been shown to reduce the severity of such burns. Perhaps the tissue-stimulating properties also help burns to heal faster.