Tea Tree OilLearn about tea tree oil and what it can do for you.
In recent years, tea tree oil has become increasingly popular as natural herbal remedy to conventional treatment for a variety of diseases, including acne, burns, skin infections, colds and flu, thrush, sore throat, rashes, insect bites, vaginitis, congestion, dermatitis, ear aches, wounds, arthritis, cold sores, and infections. It also has been used as a natural deodorant, ingredient in toothpaste, and natural household cleaner.
WARNING: Tea tree oil is toxic when taken by mouth, but is widely used in low concentrations in cosmetics and skin washes.
Here is a list of some of the natural treatments and other household uses that tea tree has been used for:
- Helps heal and soothe sunburns
- Heals skin infections naturally
- Relieves itchiness from rashes as well as helps reduce rashes
- Treats acne
- Helps to prevent lice naturally; just add a few drops to your shampoo
- A few drops in your pets’ crates or beds keep the fleas away
- Removes ticks; just add to skin, and the little stinker will usually unlatch
- Cures toenail fungus and Athlete’s foot
- Helps remove skin tags
- Naturally cures bad breath (Swish some tea tree oil and water in you mouth.)
- Can be used in a homemade toothpaste recipe
- Has been found as an effective treatment for warts
- Soothes insect bites
- Treats ringworm
- Treats psoriasis and other skin conditions
- Relieves asthma or other breathing conditions when a few drops are added to a humidifier
- Relieves earaches; mix 1 drop of tea tree oil with 1 tsp. olive oil, drop mixture into the ear and then remove by tilting head
- Works as as antiseptic on small cuts
- Keeps your bathroom fresh
- Freshen laundry: Add a few drops in your washing machine to scent your clothes. Also, if you forgot to put the clothes in the dryer, run again with tea tree oil to remove mildew. You can also scent wool dryer balls with tea tree oil.
- Can be used as an all-purpose cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with 1-2 tsp. of tea tree oil and the rest of the bottle with water
- Helps freshen carpet.
- Can be used in several homemade kitchen cleaners
- Cleans mold: Mix apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil and scrub mold; place outside to sun-dry.
- Can be used in a homemade natural deodorant.
What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is defined by the International Standard ISO 4730 (“Oil of Melaleuca, Terpinen-4-ol type”), which specifies levels of 15 components which are needed to define the oil as “tea tree oil.” The oil is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree via steam distillation. This essential oil possesses a sharp camphoraceous odor followed by a menthol-like cooling sensation. Most commonly an ingredient in topical products, it is used at a concentration of 5% to 10%. The oil has been described as having a fresh, camphor-like smell.
Tea tree oils have six types, oils with different chemical compositions. These include a terpinen-4-ol type, a terpinolene type, and four 1,8-cineole types. These various oil types contain over 98 compounds, with terpinen-4-ol the major component responsible for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A second component 1,8-cineole, is likely responsible for most allergies in TTO products. Adverse reactions to TTO diminish with minimization of 1,8-cineole content. In commercial production, TTO is prepared as a terpinen-4-ol type. (Wikipedia)
Here is some great research on the medicinal qualities of tea tree oil:
2004 Study: Herbal medicines for treatment of fungal infections: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. “Tea tree oil preparations were tested in four randomized clinical trials and some positive outcomes were attributed to the intervention in all trials. Solanum species (two trials) and oil of bitter orange preparations (one trial) were compared with conventional treatments. In all cases encouraging results were reported. There are few controlled clinical trials of herbal antifungal medicines.”(1)
A 2004 NCCIH-funded review examined the ability of tea tree oil to kill bacteria and found that in vitro (in a test tube) studies may provide some preliminary evidence for the use of tea tree oil as an adjunctive (additional) treatment for wounds involving difficult-to-treat bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).(2)
In a study in 2007 by by the National Institutes of Health, a randomized double-blind clinical trial performed in 60 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris. The people were randomly divided into two groups and were treated with tea tree oil gel (n=30) or placebo (n=30). They were followed every 15 days for a period of 45 days. Response to treatment was evaluated by the total acne lesions counting (TLC) and acne severity index (ASI). The data was analyzed statistically using t-test and by SPSS program.(3)
A 2011 study in PubMed: Tea tree oil might combat melanoma– “In this study we present new data from experiments focused on the antitumor activity of tea tree oil (TTO), an essential oil distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia. TTO proved to be capable of inhibiting the growth of melanoma cells and of overcoming multidrug resistance (MDR), as we reported in our previous study. Moreover, the survival role of the MDR-marker P-glycoprotein appears to be involved in the mechanism of invasion of melanoma cells. The results reported herein indicate that TTO and its main active component, terpinen-4-ol, can also interfere with the migration and invasion processes of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant melanoma cells. PMID:20560116.”(4)
A 2013 study on the effect of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on wound healing using a dressing model.– “Numerous studies have shown the promising antibacterial effects of Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree essential oil. The study detailed here replicates in humans a 2004 in vitro study that used a dressing model over Petri dishes to determine the antimicrobial effects of the fumes of tea tree essential oil. The current study used the same dressing model with patients who had wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus.
Ten participants volunteered for the quasi-experimental study, and four of the 10 were used as matched participants to compare wound healing times between conventional treatment alone and conventional treatment plus fumes of tea tree essential oil. The results demonstrated decreased healing time in all but one of the participants treated with tea tree oil. The differences between the matched participants were striking. The results of this small investigational study indicate that additional study is warranted.” PMID:23848210 (5)
Where does tea tree oil come from?
Tea Tree, a name applied not only to the Thea bushes (see Tea), but to various species of Leptospermum and Melaleuca — myrtaceous shrubs found from China to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. The teatree forms a common and almost impenetrable scrub of Victoria, in moist situations. It is a shrub of varying height and dark-green color, the branches bushy and growing perpendicularly, the leaves resembling the needles of a fir.
The stems are straight, the wood hard and valuable for many bush purposes. Several of the tea-trees belonging to the genus Melaleuca furnish the aromatic, pungent cajeput oil (see Cajbput) of commerce. It is especially obtained from M. leucadendron, a tree reaching 30 feet in height, with terminal spikes of white flowers, and elliptical to lanceolate leaves, from which the oil is distilled. It has a crooked trunk, papery bark, employed in packing, and yields a wood which is white, close-grained, hard and durable, even under the ground. M. squarrosa or swamp tea-tree has a thin bark, and the thin, spongy cortex of M. axillaris can be used as a filter or blotting paper.
The New Zealand tea-tree or tea-scrub is Leptospermum scoparium, a heather or juniper-like shrub with leathery foliage, like needles, and many small white blossoms. The common name is said to have been derived from the use of the foliage of this shrub and that of L. laiiigerum by Captain Cook for tea, but the native name of the former is “ti.B The white tea-tree is L. ericoides, of New Zealand. Other tea-trees are the bottle-green Kunzea corifolia, and the broad-leaved Callistemon salignus, both of Australia and Tasmania; the Ceylon, Elwodendron glaucum, and the red scrub tea, Rhodamnia trinervia, several of which are myrtaceous and have hard, heavy close-grained wood.(6)
1. Martin KW, Ernst E. Herbal medicines for treatment of fungal infections: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Mycoses. 2004;47(3-4):87–92.
2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health
3. U.S. National Library of Medicine – The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study.
6. Encyclopedia Americana