Tea Tree Oil

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Your Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a versatile product that is very effective for a wide range of uses. This essential oil is popular for treating common skin ailments and is often used in hair care products. Tea tree oil’s properties as a cleanser and deodorizer also make it ideal for tackling a variety of household chores.

What is Tea Tree Oil?

How is tea tree oil made and where does it come from?

Tea tree oil is made from the leaves and twigs of the tea tree. The primary growing region of this native plant is Australia, where it goes by the scientific name of Melaleuca alternifolia. The New South Wales and Queensland areas of Australia are both known producers of the tea tree.

credit: wikimediacommons
credit: wikimediacommons

The tea tree shares its lineage with the myrtle family of plants. The leaves of the tea tree are mostly located on the very top portion of the tree with bare trunk and branches below. The tea tree has white flowers that typically bloom during the spring and summer months.

The essential oil of tea tree, which has been described as having a clean camphor-like scent, is extracted using steam distillation. After the leaves and twigs are harvested, they are steamed and pressed to extract the oil. Tea tree oil can be clear to light golden yellow depending on purity.

 

How is Tea Tree Oil Used?

Tea tree oil is very popular because it can be used in a variety of ways. This essential oil is used in everything from cosmetics to skin and hair care products and even household cleaners. Tea tree oil can be applied to the skin to alleviate and treat common ailments such as eczema and psoriasis.

The healing properties of tea tree oil have been recognized for their ability to help prevent infection. The oil is effective at killing bacteria and eliminating harmful viruses. Tea tree oil is also found in natural oral care products such as toothpaste. It is effective for cleansing the mouth and preventing bad breath.

Tea tree oil can be used by applying it directly to the skin after mixing it with carrier oils such as jojoba or coconut. Aromatherapists may use incense or candles that are infused with tea tree oil for its beneficial properties. The essential oil can also be added to a diffuser so that the aroma can be inhaled.

Other essential properties of tea tree oil include protective antioxidant benefits that naturally support the body’s defense system. It is effective for cleansing the body to remove harmful toxins. Regular use of tea tree oil can help keep the body healthy and strong by boosting its immune system.

 

Beneficial Properties of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has very effective healing qualities that make it excellent for treating a variety of physical ailments within the body. This essential oil also works wonders when used as part of a daily grooming routine. It also is excellent around the home as a general household cleaner.  

Treatment of Physical Health Ailments

Properties and benefits of tea tree oil when used to alleviate health ailments include:

  • Respiratory ailments

Tea tree oil can effectively treat a variety of respiratory ailments. Suggested uses include adding the essential oil to a diffuser or a vaporizer. When inhaled, tea tree oil can help alleviate congestion and breathing difficulties.

  • Strengthens immune system 

The antiviral and antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil can help to boost the body’s immune system. This essential oil effectively keeps harmful infections at bay which contributes to enhanced health and a stronger immune system.

  • Strong antiseptic

The antiseptic properties of tea tree oil can be used externally when applied to the skin to prevent infection within wounds and cuts. It is effective at killing harmful bacteria and helps to keep wounds clean while promoting faster healing.

  • Antibacterial properties

Tea tree oil has antiviral properties that make it effective for treating a variety of skin conditions such as warts, boils, and cold sores. Tea tree oil can kill harmful viruses and microbial bacteria, making it excellent for remedying skin lesions.

  • Acne treatment

Tea tree oil can be an effective alternative to using over-the-counter skin care products such as benzyl peroxide to treat acne. Tea tree oil is not irritating to the skin, as some acne treatment products can be, and it can produce similar results.

  • Soothes sore throats

The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil can soothe sore throats associated with the common cold and viruses. An effective solution is to mix the essential oil with warm water and use it as a mouthwash gargle for the throat.

  • Relieves earaches

Minor ear infections can be treated by using tea tree oil when applied topically to the external area of the ear. The antibacterial and antiseptic qualities of this essential oil are effective for eliminating bacteria that can cause infection.

  • Treats urinary tract infections

Tea tree oil is noted for its effective use in treating urinary tract infections. The strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties of this essential oil can be helpful for cleansing the system of impurities.

  • Natural detoxifier

Tea tree oil is an all-natural detoxifier that is quite effective for riding the body of toxic impurities that can lead to illness. This essential oil promotes sweating which is effective for removing toxins from the body.

Benefits of Using Tea Tree Oil for Daily Grooming and Skin Care

Additional benefits and properties of tea tree oil when used for daily grooming include:

  • Essential hair care

Tea tree oil is used in a variety of hair care products including shampoos and conditioners. This essential oil is effective for treating dandruff and is also good for moisturizing dry hair.

  • Effective anti-fungicide 

Tea tree oil has strong anti-fungal qualities that make it effective for treating a variety of common skin conditions such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, and toe nail infections.

  • Alleviates skin inflammation

Common skin ailments such as psoriasis, eczema, and shingles can be effectively treated with the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil. It can be applied directly to the skin or added to a warm soothing bath.

  • Treats head lice

Add the essential oil of the tea tree to your shampoo to effectively rid the hair and head area of lice. You can also mix tea tree oil with warm water and spray it on the head and let it soak before rinsing it off. Follow up with a cleansing shampoo.   

  • Effective deodorant

If you are looking for an all-natural deodorant, tea tree oil can be a great alternative to over-the-counter deodorants that contain toxic chemicals. Its antimicrobial qualities essentially eliminate the odor-causing bacteria.

  • Facial astringent

The natural cleansing properties of tea tree oil make it effective for use as a facial astringent. Its antiseptic properties are also good for removing impurities on the skin that can lead to blemishes and acne.

  • Antimicrobial properties

The antimicrobial properties of the essential oil of the tea tree make it effective for killing harmful germs on the skin that can cause infection. You can apply this essential oil on cuts and wounds to help clean them for faster healing.

  • Oral health care

Tea tree oil is effective for eliminating harmful bacteria within the mouth.   The antiseptic and antiviral properties of tea tree oil make it an excellent mouthwash that you can gargle with to support good oral health.

 

Beneficial Household Uses for Tea Tree Oil

Household products made with tea tree oil are very appealing to consumers who like to use chemical-free cleansers. Effective use of tea tree oil within the household includes its natural deodorizing properties that make it ideal for use as a laundry freshener.

Many health food and holistic stores carry all-purpose cleaners made with tea tree oil. As an eco-friendly “green” cleaner, tea tree oil is good for removing household mold. You can make your own cleaner by mixing tea tree oil with water to eliminate mold in the kitchen and bath.

Most over-the-counter insect repellants have toxic chemicals that can harm the body. You can make a natural insect repellant spray using tea tree oil to effectively repel insects and keep them at bay. Simply mix the essential oil with water and spray on the skin.

The strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties of tea tree oil make it perfect to use as a germicide for the skin. You can carry a small bottle of a tea tree solution with you and use it as a hand sanitizer to effectively kill germs and bacteria on your skin.

Other beneficial uses of tea tree oil within the household include its usage as a light air freshener. Mix the essential oil with water and store it in a spray bottle to quickly freshen stale or stagnant air. Tea tree oil can also be added to a natural cleansing solution and used as a gentle dishwashing soap.

 

Potential Side Effects of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is regularly used by holistic practitioners and recognized as generally being safe to use. Some people who use tea tree oil may experience minor side effects if they have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies. When applying tea tree oil to the skin, test a small area first for possible reactions.

If you want to use tea tree oil for skincare, be careful when applying it to the face. Do not apply the essential oil too close to the area around the eyes. If you wear contact lenses use extra caution to make sure you do not get the essential oil on them as it will irritate your eyes.

Many health care providers and practitioners advise pregnant women and those who are nursing to not use essential oils. Tea tree oil is absorbed into the body and its effects can be transferred to your baby. It is also recommended that nursing mothers do not apply essential oil to the breast area.

Individuals who are being treated for underlying health conditions should get approval from their doctors before using essential oils. Some prescription medications can also interact with essential oils, so it is suggested that you ask your pharmacist if you can safely use tea tree oil.

What to Look for When Buying Essential Oils

There are many steps involved in the manufacturing process when making essential oils. The quality and purity of a product such as tea tree oil can be affected by many factors. Less expensive products are usually diluted or adulterated versions that often contain watered down filling solutions.

When you shop for tea tree oil, being informed before you spend money is essential. You want to make sure that you get what you are paying for as essential oils can be very expensive. Pure essential oils such as that of the tea tree can be found at health food stores or you can buy it online.

If you decide to buy tea tree oil locally, get it from a reputable source. If you research several good brands and have narrowed your choices down to a select few, your task is halfway done. When shopping at health food stores, check the expiration date on the bottle to ensure product strength and shelf life.

Some businesses will try to sell old expired products to save money. Since the expiration dates can be very difficult to read, many consumers do not even bother checking them out. If the product has expired it will essentially be useless due to weakened properties.

Proper storage of essential oils such as that of the tea tree is very important. Do not place essential oils on a shelf that receives direct sunlight. Protect tea tree oil from heat sources such as radiators. The shelf life of tea tree oil can be maintained with a little care so you can enjoy its many beneficial qualities.

Melaleuca essential oil blends particularly well with all citrus oils, cinnamon, clary, clove,  cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, myrrh, nutmeg, rosemary, rosewood, sage and thyme.

 

Sources

  1. Ehrlich, Steven, NMD. (2011). Aromatherapy – What is Aromatherapy? What are Essential Oils?
  2. Ehrlich, Steven, NMD. (2014). Tea tree oil – Overview
  3. Halcon, Linda, PhD. (2013). Are Essential Oils Safe? University of Minnesota – Center for Spirituality & Healing.
  4. Halcon, Linda, PhD. (2013). How Do I Choose and Use Essential Oils? University of Minnesota – Center for Spirituality & Healing.
  5. Halcon, Linda, PhD. (2013). How Do I Determine the Quality of Essential Oils? University of Minnesota – Center for Spirituality & Healing.
  6. National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). (2016). Approved Standards for Professional Aromatherapy Education. 
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  9. U.S. National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. (2016). About Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.
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  14. http://essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/tea-tree.htm
  15. http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/melaleuca-oil.html

 

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