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Niaouli is an herb that is a member of the Myrtaceae plant family, and is cultivated most often in Australia. The herb is generally processed into an oil and used as a form of alternative medicine. Herbalists may promote the use of niaouli oil for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions, ranging from cosmetic to medical.
Oil is taken out of the herb through a process known as steam distillation. The herb is heated in water until its natural oils vaporize and release from the plant. Once the oils are separated from the rest of the herb, they are strained through a separating device to ensure no pieces of the herb remain in the oil.
Niaouli oil is typically used in two possible administration methods: inhalation using an herbal vaporizer or topical application. An herbal vaporizer is a device that converts the oil into vapor, or moisture in the air so a person can breathe it in. More commonly, the oil is either rubbed directly onto the skin or mixed into skincare products, such as body lotions or soaps. The administration method will generally depend on the condition a person is attempting to treat.
Supporters of niaouli as an alternative medication technique believe it can be implemented as a treatment option for both internal and external health conditions. Using an herbal vaporizer to inhale the oil is often recommended by herbalists as a means to treat chest and lung infections, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma. It may also be used to treat the common cold or influenza because it is believed the oil works as a decongestant. When niaouli is applied topically to the skin, it is thought to help with itching and other skin irritations, such as rashes or insect bites.
The herbal oil can be used topically to treat cosmetic conditions as well. Herbalists may recommend applying the oil onto the face to clear up acne. It is also thought to be able to make skin cells regenerate more quickly in order to fade the appearance of scars with regular usage.
Unlike other herbs, niaouli has not been proven to cause any serious side effects or interact with other medications. Critics of the herb tend to believe it is simply not effective, but not unsafe. Some people may simply prefer to use products containing the oil as a means of relaxation, such as for massage, rather than using it as medication.