Tea tree oil is extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia of the Myrtaceae family and is also known as ti-tree, ti-trol and melasol. There is no other essential oil as versatile and beneficial as the oil of the Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) leaf. Valued for hundreds of years as a remedy for a variety of health concerns and many skin ailments, Tea Tree essential oil has since been proven by research to be a powerful natural antiseptic, a soothing balm for minor wounds, insect bites, and minor burns, as well as a skin conditioner and much, much more.
Tea Tree Origins
The Melaleuca alternifolia is a small shrub or tree which grows on the warmer, wetter east coast of Australia and now South Africa, with needle-like leaves and heads of sessile yellow or purplish flowers. It grows to about 7 meters (20 feet) high and even when this tree is cut down, it flourishes and is ready for cutting again in two years.
The light yellow essential oil is produced by steaming the pine-needle-like tree leaves to force out the oil. The oil has a warm, spicy, aromatic odour. Historically, Australian aborigines crushed the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia and inhaled the oil to relieve colds and headaches. However, the name Tea Tree, the commonly used name for the Melaleuca alternifolia was first used by Captain Cook in 1777, when he brewed the leaves of this tree to make a tea for the prevention of scurvy in his sailors.
Using Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains chemicals known as terpenoids which are believed to provide the oil with its medicinal properties. Standards have been established for the amount of one particular compound, terpinen-4-ol, which must make up at least 30 and preferably 40-50 of the oil for it to be considered medically useful. Tea tree oil contains yet another compound, cineole, which should make up less than 15 and preferably 2.5 of the oil.
Often referred to as “The Miracle Oil”, this pure oil is the one product every medicine cabinet should contain. No other product is at once antiseptic and gentle to the skin, penetrating and soothing on burns, bites, and minor wounds, refreshing and comforting.
- For massage use 5 drops of tea tree oil in 10ml of any carrier oil
- For inhalation or during a bath, use 5-10 drops tea tree oil in hot water.
- Use as an anti-fungal treatment for athlete’s foot, eczema, various yeast infections etc. (Use massage method) Yeast infections are a tricky one as they occur in sensitive areas, but I have read that a drop of tea tree oil on a water soaked piece of cotton wool applied to that area can help.
- Use as an antiseptic on cuts and burns. (Use massage method)
- Use as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial: it may lessen the symptoms of colds and flu.
- Add to a vaporizer to loosen chest congestion.
- Teat tree oil boosts your immune system
- Add a small amount to shampoo to destroy head lice. (Use the massage method but substitute carrier oil with shampoo)
- A small amount added to your bath can help with persistent body odor.
- Tea tree helps in treating sinus infections.
- Tea tree oil relieves dandruff and dry scalp.
These are merely guidelines and are better used in conjunction with a trained aromatherapist as with any aromatherapy products.
- To create an all-purpose cleaner, combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil in 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
- Mix the above solution with kosher salt to scrub your bathtub and bathroom tiles.
- Add a few drops to a dishwasher dispenser, then fill with an eco friendly dishwashing soap.
- Control mold and mustiness with a tea tree oil/water spray.
- To keep germs at bay, spray it on high chairs, car seats, keyboards and other high traffic spots.
- Be sure to take some with you when hiking or camping for use on insect bites or blisters.