Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a true miracle of nature — an essential oil, steam-distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which includes a variety of plants native to the southeastern area of Queensland and the northeastern coast of New South Wales in Australia. The oil has a fresh, camphor-like odor and a color ranging from pale yellow to clear. (Wikipedia, 2014) It contains over 98 active compounds, is natural, green and sustainable.
Humans have found many topical uses for this miraculous natural substance. Often referred to as a “medicine cabinet in a bottle”, it stimulates the immune system and is effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although the indigenous Bundjalung of eastern Australia have used it for centuries to treat coughs, colds, sore throats and various skin ailments, science didn’t formally understand the oil’s antimicrobial properties until the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Large-scale production began when commercial tea tree plantations were established in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (One Green Planet, 2012)
NIFTY USES FOR TEA TREE OIL (Care2, 2014), (Valentine, 2012)
ANTIVIRAL Its antiviral properties make tea tree oil ideal as a topical treatment of viruses such as herpes, chickenpox, singles.
ANTIBACTERIAL/ANTISEPTIC Tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties make it ideal for applying topically to prevent infections in cuts, abrasions and burns and also to heal and prevent acne.
For sinus infections, try adding four drops to your steaming pot, put a towel over your head and inhale the tea tree oil infused steam. You could also dab a bit of the oil under each nostril at bedtime.
Mix a few drops with water to make an antibacterial spray for high chairs and car seats.
If you have smelly feet, try rubbing a bit of tea tree oil on the soles of your feet before putting on your shoes.
Tea tree oil has even been shown to be effective in hospital applications for clearing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and as a hand disinfectant to prevent cross-infection with Gram-positive and Gram-negative epidemic organisms. (May, 1999)
ANTIFUNGAL Take advantage of tea tree oil’s antifungal properties by dabbing it on fungal skin infections such as eczema, athlete’s foot and yeast infections.
Kill mold with a tea tree oil and water spray.
AROMATHERAPY Put drops of tea tree oil in an aromatherapy diffuser to treat colds, persistent coughs, acne, toothaches and sunburn. VAPORIZORS Add a few drops to the water in a vaporizer to loosen chest congestion.
BATH Use a few drops in the bath to help prevent body odor or to lessen the symptoms of colds and flu.
SCALP Mix a few drops with your shampoo to treat dry scalp and dandruff or to destroy head lice.
MUSTINESS Add a tablespoon of tea tree oil to one cup of water in a spray bottle to freshen up the stale smell in fabrics that can’t be laundered, such as decorative pillows, drapes, upholstery and suitcases.
HOUSEHOLD CLEANING Mix 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle to use as an all-purpose cleaner.
Combining 14 ounces of water, 1 ounce of Murphy’s oil soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil also makes a good general household cleaner.
Mixing the Murphy’s oil soap solution with kosher salt makes a good bathtub and tile scrub. Use a few drops in your dishwasher dispenser along with the soap to keep the machine fresh smelling.
Add a few drops in the washer to leave clothes smelling cleaner.
INSECT REPELLENT Make an effective insect repellent with 15 drops in a quart of water.
CAMPING Put a little undiluted tea tree oil on insect bites and blisters. WARNINGS The general warning is: TEA TREE OIL CAN BE TOXIC IF SWALLOWED. KEEP IT AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS .
According to the Mayo Clinic:
“Allergic reactions have been reported with tea tree oil when taken by mouth or used on the skin. Skin reactions ranged from mild contact dermatitis (skin inflammation) to severe blistering rashes.
“Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), to any of its parts, Balsam of Peru, benzoin, colophony (rosin) tinctures, eucalyptol, or to plants that are members of the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family.
“Tea tree oil is likely safe when applied to the skin in recommended doses and durations in non-allergic people.”
They go on to list many possible side effects and warnings and discuss its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the Mayo Clinic’s full list of warnings, dosing information and drug interactions.
Yet, for the majority of people who are not allergic to it, availing themselves of tea tree oil’s many uses is highly beneficial – including ingesting it to produce a Candida albicans (yeast infection) die off, adding it to neti pots to vanquish sinus infections and using it as a mouthwash.
Care2. (2014). 20 Great Uses for Tea Tree Oil. See http://www.care2.com/greenliving/20-great-uses-for-tea-tree-oil.html
May, J. et al. (1999). Time–kill studies of tea tree oils on clinical isolates. Oxford Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 45:5, 639-643. See http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/5/639.full
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). See http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tea-tree-oil/safety/hrb-20060086
Valentine, J. (2012). Spotlight on Tea Tree Oil: This Stuff Is Amazing! One Green Planet. See http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/spotlight-on-tea-tree-oil-this-stuff-is-amazing/
Wikipedia. (2014). Tea tree oil. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_tree_oil © Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.