Tea tree oil uses are vast and varied.
This cure-all is coveted the world over for its broad uses from acne and sinus infections to disinfecting the home and getting rid of mold. Below I will go through where tea tree oil is from, how it is used, and how to use it effectively.
With such a wide variety of applications, it’s no wonder that this oil is such a highly touted therapeutic remedy.
- How is tea tree oil Made?
- History Of Tea Tree Oil
- Uses of Tea Tree Oil
- Treat Mold With Tea Tree Oil
- Tea Tree Oil Is a Powerful Cleanser
- Curtailing Body Odor
Tea Tree Oil Info
Tea tree oil as a finished product is derived from the essential oil steam distilled from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia (native to Australia and to Northern New South Wales). The leaves are boiled and the steam is collected, distilled, and bottled. The best extract is usually clear to very pale golden in color and it exudes a fresh, camphor-like scent.
In 1770, Captain James Cook (of the British ship H.M.S. Endeavor) landed at Botany Bay, Australia – near where Sydney is now. From there, he traveled north through the coastal regions of New South Wales. During this trek, he and his crew noticed the massive groves of trees thick with sticky, aromatic leaves.
The local natives told him about the healing powers of these trees. For many years, the natives had been using the leaves to treat cuts and wounds. Crushed leaves were applied directly to an injury, then held in place with a mud pack. This poultice helped fight infection in the wound.
This new found knowledge struck a cord with Captain Cook. Australia was originally an English penal colony and such a distance from Her Majesty’s Crown meant limited access to traditional medicines. Captain Cook and his men were grateful to the local natives (Aborigines) for showing them the uses for the Tea Tree, primarily the oil from its leaves.
Tea tree oil‘s effects as a natural medicine quickly spread amongst those that settled Australia in the 19th century.
Little did the early inhabitants of Austrailia know that 150 years later, the antimicrobial properties of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) as it was called by Captain Cook, would be verified by the scientific community and its oil sold as a medicinal treatment for cuts, burns, bites, and a host of skin ailments in millions of stores worldwide.
Scientist Arthur Penfold is credited for quantifying the benefits of Tea tree oil. Dr. Penfold noted that the “Tea Tree” is quite common in the North Coast district of New South Wales and that the oil from the crushed leaves yielded an oil of pale lemon tint with a pleasant odor. This oil was successfully used by the native peoples as a non-poisonous, non irritating antiseptic of unusual strength.
The scientific breakthrough of the plant’s virtues came in 1923 when Penfold tested the oil of the tea tree and determined its antiseptic potency was roughly 12 times stronger than the most popular antiseptic at the time, carbolic acid. Penfold’s conclusions were confirmed extensively in clinical trials and the results published in the distinguished scientific journals of the day. It wasn’t long before medical professionals and housewives alike began stocking their medicine cabinets with tea tree oil to have on hand for a wide variety of ailments.
During World War II, an outbreak of foot-fungus hospitalized hundreds of Australian soldiers. None of the “modern” ointments, lotions and medicines would work to stop this outbreak. One day, a medic who was an aborigine from Australia, remembered about the Tea Tree and got some of the oil.
Soon Australian soldiers were issued tea tree oil in their first aid kits. The troops were staunch advocates of the oil’s insect repellent and anti-fungal properties. At the same time back in Australia, it was being utilized in a wide spectrum of home products such as shampoo, toothpaste, and other products to combat body odor, boils, acne and head lice.
As we have alluded to so far, people over the years have discovered many, many uses for Tea Tree Oil.
Here are some of the best uses we have found…
Tea tree oil contains a constituent called terpinen-4-ol that is thought to be responsible for most of it’s antimicrobial properties. Because it is an anti-bacterial, applying topically to acne lesions has been thought to kill Propionibacterium acnes, the skin-dwelling bacteria that is involved in causing acne.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Stack Up Against Other Treatments?
Although the oil has been a popular home remedy for acne, there has only been one older scientific study on tea tree oil and acne that we have been able to find.
A single-blind randomized trial by the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of 5% tea tree oil gel with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with mild to moderate acne. People in both groups had a significant reduction in inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions over the three month period, although tea tree oil was less effective than it’s counterpart.
Although the oil took longer to work initially, there were fewer side effects. In the benzoyl peroxide group, 79% of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far fewer side effects in the group utilizing the all-natural gel.
Should Undiluted Tea Tree Oil be Applied to Acne Lesions?
The undiluted oil has been known on occasion to cause skin irritation, redness, blistering, over-drying, and itching when applied directly to the skin for prolonged periods.
The concentration used in the only study to date was a 5% tea tree oil gel, which was applied to acne prone areas.
A 5% solution can be made by mixing 1 parts tea tree oil to 20 parts water.
What About Commercial Tea Tree Oil Acne Products?
There are a number of new topical acne products that contain tea tree oil. Have a look at the skin care aisle of the health food store. The company Kiss My Face just introduced a new topical gel that also has other herbal antiseptics, such as witch hazel, that may also be effective against acne.
Another place to look would be the drug store or a cosmetics store such as Sephora. DDF has a benzoyl peroxide gel with tea tree oil that has consistently received high ratings from consumers.
If you didn’t catch on after we explored its resurrection in World War II, the answer, my friend, is a resounding…YES! It is a natural anti-fungal, though there are different ways to use it for different fungal infections. Here is a quick guide…
Treating a nail fungus with tea tree oil will require one or two drops once a day until your nail starts to clear up. Be sure your nail is clean and dry before administering the essential oil, as any water left on or around your nail may prevent the oil from getting into the nail and reduce its effectiveness. It can produce some mild skin irritation in an area that is already having problems. You can dilute the oil with a drop of olive oil to reduce the concentration being applied to your nail, if a full drop undiluted is too strong. Some experimentation may be necessary so don’t hesitate to slightly vary the concoction as no identical treatment will work for everyone.
Tea Tree oil is also an effective remedy for yeast infections. Direct application should always be diluted, especially to our most sensitive areas. Being such a strong antiseptic, it may cause irritation for some women. If you notice any discomfort, rinse the area with lots of plain water and discontinue use.
For primarily external vaginal irritation, women can put a few drops of oil into a lukewarm sitz bath. For internal irritation or more persistent infections, treatment can either be completed using pre-sold Tea Tree oil suppositories or you can make your own using a few drops of oil in a suitable applicator covered with a vaginal lubricant such as K-Y jelly. As we mentioned earlier, some people find that the oil can cause stinging on contact so use only a few drops diluted with additional K-Y if you feel it is necessary. Please make sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any new treatment.
It has been known for thousands of years among aboriginal peoples that pure tea tree oil is awesome for cuts and burns.
You need to be sure to test if you have a reaction first though!
Apply just a touch to the underside of your wrist or the back of your leg and wait a couple of hours. This is a great litmus test to see if you have an allergic reaction. If after a few hours you do not notice a reaction, most likely you are good to apply a few drops to your cut, scrape, or burn.
If you do notice a rash or any other irregularity form, consult a dermatologist to find out why. Don’t wait to see what happens, do not try another dose, seek help! Reactions are not to be taken lightly!
Head lice are hard enough on a kid, and pesticide shampoos may be off limits if your child has allergies or health problems. Sensory issues or skin sensitivity may also cut down on your de-lousing options.
The oil from the tea tree is a natural solution that drives lice away if you’ve got ‘em and keeps them away before you do. This is a fantastic alternative to all those chemical products on the market.
You may be able to find tea tree oil shampoo, or at least small bottles of the oil to drop into your child’s shampoo. Just a few drops added to a small to medium sized bottle of baby shampoo is all you need. Desert Essence is a reliable brand which is available in both shampoo and oil. After you add it, make certain you shake it up to mix it well!
Keep in mind that although tea tree oil is natural, that doesn’t automatically make it safe or the right choice for your family. It can cause skin rashes in those prone to allergies, and it can be toxic if ingested. Be sure to keep it out of your child’s reach and use it in reasonable quantities. However, if your child’s particular special needs make some of the pesticide shampoos a dangerous choice, this may be the best option.
Treating mold the all-natural way is simple and effective with the essential oil of the tea tree. Simply add 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and shake it up. This mixture works great to clean:
- Shower curtains
- Moldy ceilings
- Mold on wood
It’s important to note PLEASE that over time, tea tree oil will damage hardwood floors and cabinets, so use the following recipe sparingly and with great care. To treat mold in wood, mix 14 ounces of water with 1 ounce of Murphy’s oil soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use an old spray bottle that has been cleaned thoroughly, and then mark the outside of the spray bottle so you know what it is for future use.
A few drops of oil in your humidifier can also sanitize the air inside your home. If you notice an excess in the airborne contaminants in your home, including mold, this will work wonders for you!
In addition to getting rid of mold, the essential oil of the tea tree is a great household disinfectant. It’s an excellent Eco-friendly option for all of you looking for easy, green ways to clean your home. Simply add a couple teaspoons of the oil to a couple cups of water and you have a powerful disinfecting cleanser. Some items you can disinfect with this mixture include:
- The kitchen counter
- Door handles
- The refrigerator
- The oven
- Heavily used internal or external fixtures
Simply spray the cleaning solution on any surface where you would use traditional cleaning solution. Spray it on dirty car seats and high chairs and wipe them down. This helps to sanitize your child’s sitting and eating areas without using harsh chemicals that might do more harm than good. Be sure to let the solution dry completely before placing your child in the seats.
Try mixing the tea tree oil solution with kosher salt to scrub soap scum off of shower doors and bathtubs. The salt acts as an abrasive and cleaning aid alongside the cleansing properties of the oil. Rinse thoroughly and wear gloves.
Use the solution to wipe down surfaces in high-mold or high-humidity areas, such as bathrooms. Tea tree oil is a natural fungus fighter remember, and works great to combat mold and mildew. If you encounter large amounts of mold, or black mold, however, call a mold-removal specialist.
Have issues with body odor? Contrary to what most people think, body odor is not caused by sweat, it is caused by bacteria. As a natural antiseptic, tea tree oil can be used to help curtail unwanted odor. There are a couple of ways to utilize the oil:
- Apply a couple tablespoons of the essential oil to your bathwater.
- Dilute a few drops of oil into a bowl of water and splash it under your armpits and any other area you are noticing unpleasant or embarrasing odor.
Tea tree oil has a rich history and a wide variety of uses, and we only scratched the surface! Stay tuned to this article as we will update it regularly to keep up to date. Don’t forget to leave a comment related to tea tree oil and thanks for stopping by!