Tea Tree has an impressive history. Centuries before tea was made from the leaves of the Tea Tree, the Australian Aborigines knew its healing properties. The leaves were crushed and clay-moulded to treat skin conditions and inflammation, it was a panacea for an incredible number of other conditions.
The explorer Captain James Cook noted that the indigenous people boiled the leaves in water, which gave off a scent like nutmeg. He suspected they were making tea, and coined the name “tea tree”, although this is a different tree than the tea plant from which black tea is usually made.
Tea Tree Origin & Characteristics
Originally tea trees were only found on the Australian continent. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), also called paper bark tree, is a member of the Myrtle family which includes over 150 different types of trees and shrubs with a papery bark and lance-shaped leaves. They bloom small white flower spikes, followed by woody seed pods. In addition to the production of essential oil, they are also grown for their beautiful flowers.
This tree has natural healing powers and its antiseptic properties come straight from the leaves. In addition to scientific confirmation of these powerful properties, tea tree oil has been shown to be even more potent than that of the aloe vera plant. It can be used to cure coughs, colds, skin conditions and a host of other conditions. Applying tea tree oil to sore muscles may have an analgesic effect, and recent studies support the use of tea tree oil to treat yeast and fungal infections.
Nowadays more and more people rely on natural products to care for their bodies – and fortunately, nature supplies countless products that actually have numerous positive effects on the body, additionally providing a delicious or soothing aroma. Tea tree oil is one of those health supporting products. The oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the tea tree by a process of steam distillation. The use of this highly accessible oil has spread around the world and has gained popularity as a natural antimicrobial agent.
Tea Tree Oil & Benefits
Considered as “a cure-all in one bottle”, tea tree oil is one of the most used and versatile oils, a true gem among all essential oils. It is an ingredient in a wide variety of products, ranging from soaps and shampoos to facial cleansers. The scent of this oil somewhat resembles eucalyptus and is slightly astringent.
One of the many properties of tea tree is its antibacterial effects, with a broad spectrum, including MRSA bacteria, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, fungicidal, expectorant, anti-itching, skin healing, parasiticidal (for example with head lice), immune stimulant, insecticide, analgesic, antitumor, anti-psoriatic.
Anti-inflammatory – Tea tree has an anti-inflammatory effect and, to a lesser extent, may also relieve pain. For a sore throat, a few drops of tea tree oil in a glass of water can be used to gargle (remember, don’t swallow!). A bath with a few drops of tea tree essential oil is very effective in case of a bladder infection. Since oil does not dissolve in water and to get a better distribution of the oil in your bath, it should be diluted with another bath product. Pimples are easily treated by dabbing it with some tea tree oil on a cotton swab.
Purifying – Tea tree essential oil is known as a natural remedy for acne, breakouts, abscesses, skin infections, athlete’s foot and (water) warts. This is due to its powerful antibacterial compounds which deeply cleanse the skin and purify pores. Tea tree oil is pain-numbing and highly wound healing, and it can be used undiluted on a wound.
Soothe – Armed with anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil is a great natural agent that has the ability to calm the skin, soothe irritations and support wound healing.
Freshen up – The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil work very well as a natural laundry freshener, also when musty or even mouldy. It can be applied to shoes or feet, in order to eliminate any unpleasant smells.
Oral care – This oil can be used in toothpaste or mouthwash and has a deodorizing effect. Note: do not swallow the mixture!
Insect Repellent – Live and let live! Staying outside a little longer on balmy summer evenings, you usually find yourself surrounded by flies and mosquitoes. Tea tree oil contains terpenes that repel insects from your skin. The scent of tea tree oil is an unpleasant experience for them and consequently they stay at a distance, without the use of polluting chemicals. For this purpose, an oil burner with a few drops of tea tree oil can serve well. Against an impending lice infestation: preventively add 2 drops of tea tree oil to shampoo to keep the bugs at bay.
In case of insect bites, immediately apply a drop of tea tree oil to the affected area.
As a powerful antiseptic agent, tea tree essential oil stimulates the immune system, which is beneficial for eliminating bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This oil can be used in both cosmetics and aromatherapy. It can treat wounds, provide soothing relief for aches, pains, and congestion, and promote a sense of calm. Even in household cleaning supplies it can disinfect surfaces.
Tea Tree Oil & Aromatherapy
Like most essential oils, tea tree also provides a wonderful scent in your home when used as an air freshener. Another great way to avoid harmful chemicals! There is nothing better than a fresh natural scent in your home while disinfecting the air. Just a few drops of tea tree oil in a cold nebulizer work wonders. Since this oil has a fairly specific scent, you may prefer to combine it with another scent, such as essential oil from geranium or lemon.
Tea Tree Oil is one of the most popular ingredients in aromatherapy today. For example, this scent is very pleasant and soothing in the sauna.
Aroma evaporator – tea tree gives a fresh and spicy scent that can be mixed well with lavender, rosemary, clove bud and citrus oils. Via evaporation, tea tree oil is a great help with bronchitis, sinusitis, nose and throat infections. The use of this oil increases the resistance to flu and cold. Tea tree demonstrably fights mould and fungal spores in the atmosphere. Furthermore, tea tree oil has a strong vitalizing effect on fatigue and nervous depression. Inhalation via steam baths are even more effective: it can be used for cold, flu, fatigue, itching and as a circulation-promoting oil for varicose veins.
Tea tree essential oil is for external use only! A few trifles to keep in mind:
- Do not apply to sensitive areas of the skin, such as around the eyes or in the nose.
- Avoid sun exposure after application, tea tree oil can make skin more sensitive to UV rays.
- Use during pregnancy and in children under 3 years is strongly discouraged.
- Keep out of reach of children.
- Test a small area on the skin, wait 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs.
As with any essential oil, tea tree oil should only be used in diluted form. Essential oils are very powerful and can cause permanent sensitization when used in pure form directly on the skin. As a standard rule, maintain a ratio of 2 drops per 5 ml of dilution with a suitable carrier oil such as coconut, almond or jojoba oil.