Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
Although Melaleuca alternifolia is known as the tea tree, it should not be confused with the plant whose leaves are used to make black, green, and oolong tea.
Tea tree oil has been used as traditional medicine by the Aboriginal people of Australia for centuries. These native Australians crush tea tree leaves to extract the oil, then inhale it to treat coughs and colds or apply it directly to the skin for healing.
Today, tea tree oil is widely available as a 100% undiluted, or neat, oil. Diluted forms are also available, ranging from 5–50% strength in products designed for the skin.
Tea tree oil contains a number of compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, that have been shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Terpinen-4-ol also appears to increase the activity of your white blood cells, which help fight germs and other foreign invaders.
These germ-fighting properties make tea tree oil a valued natural remedy for treating bacterial and fungal skin conditions, preventing infection, and promoting healing.
What are the benefits of Tea Tree essential oil?
Tea Tree oil has traditionally been used for a variety of purposes, including:
Makes an ideal natural hand sanitizer
Help keep pesky insects away
As an antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes
To boost wound healing
Powerful weapon against acne
To help get rid of nail fungus
To soothe skin inflammation
To control dandruff by adding tea tree oil to the shampoo
Banish mold on fruits and vegetables
Like many essential oils, researchers have been working to evaluate the potential health benefits of Tea Tree oil and its components.
How to use Tea Tree essential oil?
To make your own chemical-free mouthwash, simply add a drop of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water, mix thoroughly, and swish in your mouth for 30 seconds or so.
Like other mouthwashes, tea tree oil should not be swallowed. It can be toxic if ingested.
Combine 20 drops of tea tree oil, 3/4 cup water, and a 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake well until thoroughly mixed. Spray directly onto surfaces and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
Make sure to shake the bottle before each use in order to mix the tea tree oil with the other ingredients.
Relieve inflamed skin
Combine 10 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. Mix well, and store in a sealed container. Apply to the affected area up to twice per day until symptoms resolve.
To help reduce dandruff, try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to a dollop of shampoo when washing your hair.
Treat athlete’s foot
Natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot:
Combine 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 20–25 drops of tea tree oil. Stir to combine and place in a covered container. Apply to clean, dry feet twice per day.
To provide relief for psoriasis flares, combine 10–15 drops of tea tree oil with 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Apply this to the affected area 2–3 times per day, as needed.
Are there any side effects?
Research has shown that tea tree oil appears to be safe overall. However, there are some things to be aware of before using it.
Tea tree oil should not be ingested because it may be toxic if swallowed. Store it out of reach of children.
Prior to using tea tree oil for the first time, test 1 or 2 drops on a small area of your skin and wait 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs. This is important because ironically, some individuals who use tea tree oil develop contact dermatitis, one of the conditions tea tree oil may help treat.
Likewise, people with sensitive skin may experience irritation when using undiluted tea tree oil. If your skin is sensitive, it’s best to mix tea tree oil with an equal or greater amount of olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil.
Additionally, using tea tree oil on pets may not be safe.
The bottom line!
As you can see, tea tree oil can be helpful for a number of reasons.
It’s an inexpensive natural alternative to chemical-based skin and nail treatments, personal care products, and disinfectants, among other things.
However, tea tree oil is not a magic cure-all. In fact, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reaction after using it.
Overall, tea tree oil serves many purposes and is a good item to have on hand.
Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns before using Tea Tree oil.