The Oil From Down Under: 16 Surprising Uses and Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree essential oil may not be a household name to many, but it is something worthy of our attention. It is believed to be a jack-of-all-trades as far as home remedies go. The diversity of its usefulness is both practical and convenient. There are plenty of uses and benefits that tea tree essential oil can boast of, and these can usually be attributed to its antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, insecticide, balsamic, fungicide, expectorant, and stimulant properties. Tea tree essential oil is believed to help treat infections, improve one’s oral health, and even relieve root canal pain.

This oil is prominent in Australia, whose Aboriginal population has been using tea tree essential oil for over a century already. This long history of use has made a permanent place for the oil in households and vanities alike. There have been numerous discoveries about the oil’s uses, and for certain, more are still on the way.

History

Essential Oil Is Extracted from Tea Tree Leaves and Other PartsTea tree essential oil is relatively new, as far as essential oils go. However, it has more than proven its worth. Photo by Geoff Derrin/Wikimedia.org

 

Tea tree essential oil, also known in other countries as melaleuca oil or ti tree oil, is extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree. The tree is endemic only to the Northeast coast of New South Wales and in Southeast Queensland, Australia.

The name "tea tree" is used for several plants from the family Myrtaceae, related to the myrtle. These trees are mostly found in Australia and New Zealand. The name is believed to have originated from Captain James Cook's description of the tree he used to make an infusion in place of tea.

The commercial tea tree essential oil industry began in the 1920s. Arthur Penfold, an Australian native, investigated the business potential of a number of native extracted oils. In his reports and discoveries, he noted that tea tree essential oil exhibited a great promise in the industry as it has antiseptic properties.

The first extraction of tea tree essential oil occurred in Australia, with leaves from Melaleuca alternifolia. This species remains to be the most commercially important species in tea tree oil production. During the 1970s and 1980s, commercial plantations began to produce large quantities of tea tree essential oil from the M. alternifolia shrubs. Many of these plantations can be found in New South Wales, Australia.

M. alternifolia is the exact species that provides Aroma Foundry with tea tree essential oil. We pride ourselves in the quality of our essential oils, because we take the utmost care in sourcing them from the top suppliers in the world. 

Aroma Foundry tea tree essential oil comes straight from Australia, where M. alternifolia is a native species. This means that we get our tea tree oil right from where it's been since time immemorial. From its home in Australia, we bring tea tree oil all the way over to California, where we hand-bottle it in small batches. This enables us to keep a closer track of our essential oils, and we can make sure that they remain pure and free from extenders or additives. 

Here at Aroma Foundry, our essential oils are as pure as the moment they were distilled from their sources. As a plus, they're affordable and comparable to more expensive oils from other brands!

tea tree essential oil

We did a side-by-side comparison with two of the world's biggest essential oil brands.

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Since the start of its commercialization, the industry has expanded to include several other species for their extracted oil: M. armillaris and M. styphelioides in Tunisia and Egypt; M. leucadendra in Egypt, Malaysia and Vietnam; M. acuminata which is endemic to Tunisia; M. ericifolia, also in Egypt; and M. quinquenervia in the United States. Similar oils can also be produced and extracted by water distillation from the M. linariifolia and M. dissitiflora species.

To date, several corporations are taking interest in testing the efficacy of tea tree essential oil using a medical and scientific approach, hoping to gain more momentum by taking advantage of the available technologies and put the myths to their rightful place — either in the debunked category or in the proven. However, given the wide use and effectiveness of the oil, scientific evidence of its efficacy is likely going to be icing on the cake. 

Uses and Benefits

The essential oil from tea tree has a number of distinctive qualities. It has a fresh camphor-like odor, and its color ranges from pale yellow to nearly colorless and clear. The oil is toxic if taken orally, and it is typically used in low concentrations as a home remedy or as an alternative treatment for skin conditions. There is also evidence that tea tree oil is useful for treating dandruff, acne, herpes, lice, insect bites, scabies, and other skin fungal or bacterial infections.

For this article we will be listing 16 of the benefits we may expect from tea tree essential oil. Here’s the rundown of the conditions it can help with:

Stye

A stye is an inflamed swelling at the edge of the eyelid commonly caused by bacterial infection. Since tea tree essential oil has antibacterial properties, it can be used as a remedy for stye. The oil helps cleanse and reduce inflammation and bacterial build-up. To do this, just mix a teaspoon of tea tree essential oil and two tablespoons of filtered water then refrigerate afterwards. After a while, take it out and apply it around your eye at least three times a day. Do this until the swelling and pain is gone.

Note that essential oils in general can cause irritation if it gets in the eyes or other mucous membranes. While tea tree essential oil treatment has been known to help with this eye condition, please exercise due caution and consult with a qualified professional before putting it to practice.

Preventing bladder infections

Tea tree essential oil is known to be effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Hence, it works well in helping prevent bladder infections. The vapors of tea tree essential oil inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli, that could cause these infections.

Add ten drops of the oil to your bath water. You may also use it as a wash for the urethra opening. Some studies have shown that doing this method can help treat urinary tract infections in women.

Strengthening nails

Tea Tree Essential Oil for Stronger NailsPretty nails need to be strong nails, first and foremost. Let tea tree oil help you make your nails as healthy as possible.

 

Brittle nails? Tea tree essential oil can help. The oil is rich in antifungal properties which can help you fight any fungal infections. Fungal infections can cause your nails to become brittle and weak, and tea tree oil may not only aid in treating the rooted fungus, it may also help protect and strengthen your nails in the process. As a bonus, it can also help you clean yellow or discolored nails.

Mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with half a teaspoon of vitamin E oil. Rub the solution to your nails and massage it for a few minutes. Leave the solution on for 30 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a clean towel and apply moisturizing lotion. Do this for twice a month to achieve the desired results.

Aids in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases

It isn’t true that there are no treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Many don't have a cure yet, but their symptoms can be treated. For instance, the antibacterial properties of tea tree essential oil can help relieve symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. It can also help ease the pain caused by conditions like syphilis or chancroid.

Applying the oil to the affected area using a clean cotton ball can help bring relief, and following this treatment every day for at least two weeks can give you your desired results. You can also add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to your bath water to relieve other painful symptoms.

Navel infections

Our belly buttons can also be susceptible to infections. Putting synthetic medicine on them might lead to more harm than good: remember what used to be attached to that now-closed opening and what its purpose had been? Yeah… Well, have no fears on that regard with tea tree essential oil. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties makes it ideal for helping treat almost any type of infections anywhere in your body, including your erstwhile feeding hole.

Mix 4 to 5 drops of tea tree essential oil along with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil. Apply the oil mixture to the affected area. Leave it on for about 10 minutes, and then gently wipe the oil off using a clean tissue. Repeat twice to thrice a day as long as necessary.

Dry socket pain

Dry socket pain, commonly known as alveolar osteitis, is a condition where you experience intense pain up to a few days after getting your tooth extracted. Tea tree essential oil is known to have antiseptic properties, so it works well in helping prevent tooth and gum infections as well as in easing the pain.

Take a clean cotton swab, dip it in clean water to moisten it and pour 1 to 2 drops of tea tree essential oil. Gently apply the swab in the affected area, then let it stay for 5 minutes. Afterwards, remove the cotton swab and rinse the area with lukewarm water. You can do this 2 to 3 times a day until you see the results.

 

Root canal pain

Root canal pains are usually caused by an infection in your gums. You don’t always need to go for dentist’s office right away. With its disinfectant properties, tea tree essential oil has been found to help disinfect the root canal system and help alleviate the pain associated with the infection.

Foot blisters

Tea Tree Essential Oil for Foot BlistersBecause tea tree essential oil is effective against bacteria and fungus, it can help you get rid of painful blisters on your feet. Photo by Ben Hartley/Unsplash.

 

Take 1 part of tea tree essential oil and mix it with 3 parts plain water or any vegetable oil. Use a clean cotton ball, then gently apply the mixed solution to the affected area. Leave it on the affected area for about 10 minutes, gently rinse afterwards with cold water. You can repeat this twice to thrice a day for a few days or until you see results.

The antibacterial and astringent properties present in tea tree essential oil can play a major role in the treatment of foot blisters. In addition, the oil can cut the risk of infection and recurrence.

 

Ear infections

Terpinen-4-ol is a major component of tea tree essential oil and is known to have bacteria-inhibiting properties. This could be another reason why tea tree essential oil is often more effective than most other natural antibacterial agents.

To help treat ear infections, dilute a few drops of tea tree essential oil in one-fourth cup of olive oil. After the two oils are mixed, tilt your head to one side and put a few drops of the diluted oil into your ear by using a small dropper. Keep your head tilted for a minute—this allows the oil to slide into the ear canal and disinfect your ear, helping facilitate bacterial elimination and, eventually, healing.

Genital odor

For women, maintaining reproductive health is paramount. Genital odor could be a sign of an unhealthy reproductive organ. There exists anecdotal evidence that tea tree essential oil can help eliminate this odorous symptom. This is likely made possible by the naturally occurring antifungal and antimicrobial components of tea tree essential oil.

To do this, mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with water. Apply a drop or two to the outer area of your genital opening. Repeat this process for 3 to 5 days. Prior to use, please consult with a qualified practitioner to learn more about the proper administration of tea tree essential oil. If your symptoms persist or worsen, discontinue use and seek advice from your gynecologist.

 

Cellulitis

According to one study, usage of tea tree essential oil was found to accelerate the healing rate of abscessed wounds and cellulitis. This is made possible through the antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil.

All you have to do is to moisten a cotton swab with water and add a couple of drops of tea tree essential oil. Dab the moistened swab on the infected area. Let the oil stay for a few hours, then you can wash it off with cold water.

Oral thrush

essential oilImprove your oral health the all-natural way with tea tree essential oil. Photo by Lesly Juarez.

According to several studies and tests, tea tree essential oil can effectively reduce gingivitis when you use tea tree essential oil gel on a toothbrush twice a day as a dentifrice.

Tea tree essential oil can also help treat receding gums, periodontal disease and oral herpes infections. You can also use the oil as a mouth rinse that contains a 5 percent dilution of tea tree essential oil. Gargle with a tablespoon of the solution about four times a day. Ask your local dentist about the recommended concentration of the oil in the solution for your particular needs and how to effectively maximize its usage.

 

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is another condition where the eyelid gets inflamed, and it is usually caused by dust mites that enter your eye. A study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology has shown that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree essential oil may help treat the condition.

Since our eyelids are less accessible for thorough cleaning, it is hard to clean the mites off and not let them mate. It has been reported that it’s possible to disinfect eyelids with a 50% diluted tea tree essential oil solution as an alternative treatment to blepharitis, but please seek professional assistance before doing so, especially as essential oils in general must always be kept away from the eyes and other mucous-secreting membranes.

 

Acne and other skin issues

Most anti-acne creams contain tea tree oil extracts. Tea tree essential oil has been proven to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide when it comes to fighting acne. All you have to do is mix 2 to 3 drops of tea tree essential oil with 1 tablespoon each of honey and yogurt. Apply this mixture to your face or anywhere else you have acne. Leave it on for about 20 minutes before washing your face. Repeat daily.

Dark circles under the eyes

According to research, tea tree essential oil may also help reduce under-eye dark circles and lessen the appearance of swelling. Since the skin around our eyes is delicate and subtle, it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult your doctor or a qualified professional prior to using tea tree essential oil for eye-related purposes.

 

Getting longer and thicker hair

Tea Tree Essential Oil for HairSay goodbye to limp and lifeless hair; say hello to the hair-nourishing abilities of tea tree essential oil.

 

Tea tree essential oil is a simple and effective way to help maintain your hair health. You can either massage the oil onto your scalp or even mix it with your shampoo. When you add a few drops of oil to your regular shampoo, it can help enhance the shampoo’s therapeutic properties.

If you want to make your hair longer and thicker, mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with an equal amount of carrier oil (almond or fractionated coconut) and apply it on your hair. You can also mix tea tree essential oil with olive oil to help make your hair softer and smoother. This may also form a protective layer on your hair that could subsequently boost hair growth.

Precautions

Skin irritation

Tea tree essential oil, in some cases, may cause skin irritation on some people, most especially to those with sensitive skin. Discontinue the use of tea tree essential oil if undesirable side effects occur and consult your doctor if you notice your skin burning, tingling or hurting more than usual. If you notice that applying tea tree essential oil dries your skin out, apply it to your skin less often or increase the ratio of dilution.

 

Dosage

Use tea tree essential oil externally. It should not be ingested under any circumstances. Though the idea of taking it orally can be really tempting because of its ability to absorb other herbal medications, thereby increasing their overall effectiveness, swallowing tea tree essential oil can have serious side effects. Ingestion may result in mood changes, nausea, unsettled stomach or even in an allergic reaction. It is also not safe to double the next dosage in cases where you happened to miss one when applying topically.

 

On other drugs

If you’re currently taking any medications, consult with a doctor or dermatologist before you begin with your tea tree essential oil treatment.

Recipes

There are several uses of tea tree essential oil aside from its external use. Here are some awesome recipes you can adapt to put your tea tree oil to good use.

 

Tea tree diffuser blend for eliminating bacteria

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Add all the ingredients to a glass pipette dropper bottle and mix vigorously before adding to the diffuser. To blend the oils perfectly and thoroughly, roll the bottle between your hands. Add the appropriate number of drops to your diffuser, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Another pro tip:

In order to increase the quantity, just multiply the recipe above and add it to a larger bottle.

Warning: This recipe is not intended for topical use.

Tea tree steam blend to fight colds

Ingredients:

  • 4 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 4 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 1 tbsp of a pre-made vapor rub

Instructions:

After boiling 3 cups of distilled or purified water, pour it in a bowl and set  aside for about 5 minutes. Add the essential oils and the vapor rub to the water; stir and let the bowl sit for another 10 minutes. Next wrap a large bath towel over your head, shoulders, and the bowl. Keeping your face about 10-12 inches away, lean over the bowl. (Make sure your eyes are tightly closed to avoid irritation.) Inhale the steam through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

 

Tea tree and lemongrass deodorant bar

Ingredients:

  • 15 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 15 drops of Lemongrass Essential Oil (and/or other essential oils of your preference)
  • 2 tbsp of beeswax
  • ¼ cup of shea butter
  • ¼ cup of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp of baking soda
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch

Instructions:

In a heat-safe bowl, place the beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil. Next fill a small saucepan with 2 inches of water and set on the stove over low heat. Place the heat-safe bowl on top of the pan and proceed to melt the oils and beeswax. Remove from heat once they have blended, then stir in the cornstarch and baking soda. Next, thoroughly blend in the essential oils into the mixture. Lastly, pour the mixture into prepared molds (which can be anything from silicone to improvised ice cube trays) and let sit for a few hours as they harden.

You can keep the bars in a large glass apothecary jar to keep them fresh for longer.

 

Check out a variety of essential oils you can use in these recipes.

Summary

The use of tea tree essential oil may be limited to external usage, but its efficacy is irrefutable, and the Australian Aboriginals and Capt. James Cook deserve profuse thanks for introducing this home remedy to the world.

When it comes to looking for solutions about common health problems, we always end up depending on synthetics and over-the-counter drugs, often because we don’t know any better.  We’re not trying to undervalue the benefits of synthetic drugs, but there are times when there are simpler solutions and perhaps more effective solutions available. We don’t have to choose synthetics all the time, especially as we’ve all seen at some point how synthetics can cause more damage than relief. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for taking the good along with the bad. Instead, go natural! There’s no limit to the solutions you could come up with using time-tested remedies like tea tree essential oil.

Given all its benefits that we listed here (and a few others that we haven’t covered), tea tree essential oil is a guaranteed must-have in your home or pockets.

At Aroma Foundry, we utilize our in-depth knowledge in everything about essential oils to source out and create the best essential oils. Check out our shop and find inspiration in making your personal favorite uses and blends.

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Bibliography

  1. "Precautions for Tea Tree Oil." LEAFtv. Accessed April 8, 2018. https://www.leaf.tv/articles/precautions-for-tea-tree-oil/.
  2. Tadimalla, Ravi Teja. "31 Amazing Benefits Of Tea Tree Oil For Skin, Hair, And Health." STYLECRAZE. Accessed April 8, 2018. http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-tea-tree-oil-for-skin-hair-and-health/.
  3. "Tea Tree Oil." Wikipedia. March 22, 2018. Accessed April 8, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_tree_oil#History_and_extraction.
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