Did you know – Tea Tree Oil is a Germ-Fighting Oil that’s good for your body and your home.
If you’re looking to incorporate essential oils into your lifestyle, chances are you’ve heard of tea tree oil. Also referred to as melaleuca oil, this strong scented oil is most commonly associated with combating infection. However, this best selling essential oil of the melaleuca alternifolia tree has many other purposes that range from skin care to household cleaning.
What Is Tea Tree Essential Oil?
Tea tree oil comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia tea tree which grows in Australia. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the oil was traditionally used by the Aborigines to treat wounds. The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) explains how the oil was also inhaled to treat respiratory conditions.
The name comes from Captain James Cook’s description of the native people of eastern Australia. They boiled the leaves into a therapeutic tea. The oil was probably introduced to the rest of the world during World War II as Australian soldiers carried it around in their medical kits.
The oil has a distinct smell. Some people find the smell appealing; others find it extremely off-putting. The oil smells strong. Many people describe it as an antiseptic scent with a hint of mint or pine.
Whether you love or hate the scent, you may end up overlooking it for the health benefits. Little scientific research into the oil’s therapeutic power has been conducted.
However, the completed studies show some benefits of tea tree. Anecdotal reports convey even more.
Research shows the make up of tea-tree oil contains more than 100 compounds, including:
Tea Tree Oil Is Antibacterial
A 2006 review by Australian researchers explained how tea tree oil could combat 27 strains of bacteria and 24 strains of fungi that cause fungal infections. It also has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties like Neem Oil does. Studies have found its effectiveness against the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus mrsa.
Some resources claim that using a small amount of tea tree oil every day can cause resistance to superbugs, like MRSA. According to the review referred to above, researchers have looked into these awesome benefits of tea tree.
They found that certain bacterial strains require a higher concentration of the oil to be killed. However, none of the strains studied seemed to develop resistance to long-term tea tree oil use. The researchers also determined that other bacterial strains are unlikely to develop resistance making it a good remedy for infections.
5 Uses For Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree essential oil has a multitude of uses. We’ll go over the ways in which you can use it on your face, skin, hair, on your body, and in your household.
On Your Face
Tea tree essential oil can be used to keep your skin clean and clear. Applying a solution of 5% tea tree oil may clear up acne as well as over-the-counter acne medications. You can also use tea tree oil as a general facial cleanser or makeup remover.
Don’t put tea tree essential oil directly on your skin, and avoid your eye area. Tea tree oil is extremely drying. Dilute most essential oils with a carrier oil before using them topically. It will relieve you from all the uncomfortable effects of skin irritation.
To use tea tree oil like this top seller tea tree oil for acne, mix two drops with 20 to 40 drops of witch hazel. Shake it before each use and apply to spots using a cotton ball.
To use tea tree oil as a facial cleanser, mix ten drops with ¼ cup of jojoba oil. Shake the mixture and wipe over your skin with a cotton swab. Remove it with a warm, wet washcloth.
On Your Hands And Feet
Tea tree oil can prevent fungal infections when used as part of a cuticle oil. Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of jojoba oil and massage into your cuticles daily.
The tea tree oil will fight germs. The jojoba oil will soften your cuticles and moisturize your skin.
If you have trouble with foot odor, tea tree oil might help. Most of the studies that involve the feet and tea tree oil have to do with athlete’s foot fungus and nail fungus. However, bacteria and fungus contribute to foot odor too. Dr. Weil recommends taking advantage of Tea Tree Oil antifungal properties for curing toenail fungus.
If you can get rid of the microbes on your feet, you may also alleviate odor. Those microbes can also be dangerous if you have rough, cracked heels.
Repeated irritation causes cracked heels on the soles of the feet. Every time you walk around barefoot, your foot toughens up to protect itself. Over time, this leads to cracks in the foot. The damaged skin cannot produce its own oils and moisture, so your feet become dry.
Dry, cracked feet are more susceptible to infection. Tea tree oil can combat the microscopic critters that can make your foot condition worse. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help the skin on your feet heal.
If you’re using tea tree oil to treat foot odor, you can make it into a spray. Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with one ounce of witch hazel. You can add other essential oils or carrier oils, such as rosemary oil, lavender oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and peppermint oil.
Spray directly on the feet or in your shoes. Let the spray dry before covering your feet with socks or shoes.
If you’re using melaleuca oil for cracked heels, you can make a cream to add moisture to the area. One option is to mix ½ cup vegetable shortening with two tablespoons aloe vera gel and 3-4 drops of tea tree oil. The shortening acts as a barrier to prevent moisture from escaping, and the aloe vera gel moisturizes as the tea tree oil heals and protects.
On Your Head
Tea tree oil has also been found to help with dandruff. To use it, add 30 drops of tea tree oil to one ounce of shampoo and cleanse your hair as usual. This is especially effective if your dandruff is caused by yeast or fungus, according to Tea Tree Wonders.
Tea tree oil becomes less stable with the introduction of moisture. Don’t mix up a whole bottle of shampoo with the oil ahead of time. Add the drops to the shampoo each time you shower or use a tea tree oil shampoo like this one.
Tea tree shampoo has also been used to treat head louse or head lice, according to Healthline. While more research is needed to find out how effective tea tree oil is at killing head lice, studies have shown promise.
A study in Parasitology Research found that tea tree oil may kill head lice eggs as well as adult lice. It can also prevent the eggs from hatching. Lice are becoming resistant to pyrethrins, the pesticide found in traditional lice treatment products. Using tea tree oil as part of a lice treatment plan can improve your success at eliminating an infestation.
To effectively treat lice, use an oil-based treatment to suffocate the bugs. Continuing care by spraying the scalp with a solution of diluted tea tree oil and witch hazel can prevent additional infestation.
How much should you use? The Mayo Clinic states there’s no specific recommended dose. A solution of 1 to 10% tea tree oil should be effective without irritating your skin.
Researchers have found tea tree oil to be effective in combating microbes that cause tuberculosis and possibly pneumonia. Inhaling the oil can help heal respiratory viruses and infections.
Next time you have a sinus infection, add tea tree oil to steaming water and breathe in the vapors. A few drops can be placed in a bath, or you can use the oil in a diffuser designed for use with essential oils.
Around The House
Tea tree oil can be used as an all-purpose cleaner to disinfect your home. The terpinenes in the oil can also combat mold. Be careful when using the oil on fabrics. It can strip the fabrics of dye.
The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association gives a suggestion for treating a carpet for mold using tea tree melaleuca oil. Combine 1 part tea tree oil with 2 parts methylated spirits. Add 1 part water. Keep this in a glass spray bottle and apply to the carpet two or three times a week.
Nature Hacks explains how you can use tea tree oil as a spray on hard surfaces that are susceptible to mold. Mix 2 teaspoons with two cups of water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray surfaces every day to keep them free from mold.
If you’re trying to remove existing mold, spray the solution onto the moldy areas. Let it sit for an hour, then scrub with a toothbrush and rinse. Spray another layer of the solution after you’ve cleaned the area to prevent the mold from growing back.
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, tea tree oil can be used as an insect repellent. It can be diffused in your home to deter pests such as fleas and ticks. The oil can also be used topically to relieve the sting and irritation of insect bites.
Diffusing tea tree oil in your home may also disinfect the air. Some people recommend using this as a preventative throughout the cold and flu season.
To make an antibacterial all-purpose cleaner, combine ten drops of tea tree oil, 2 cups of hot water and ½ cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Use it on countertops, sinks, toilets, floors and glass to clean your house. Note that vinegar cannot be used on granite or marble surfaces, however.
How Safe Is Tea Tree Oil?
Many people tout the use of tea tree oil as natural remedies for many conditions. It happens to be a natural substance, but it can still be dangerous.
According to Poison Control, tea tree oil is toxic when used incorrectly. It can be extremely dangerous if ingested. Even though some websites recommend using tea tree oil to treat bad breath, gum disease, and cold sores, the Poison Control Center suggests that you don’t put it anywhere near your mouth.
There have been reports of poisoning from taking as little as one teaspoon of tea tree oil by mouth or using it as an enema. Tea tree oil is also toxic to cats and dogs. The oil may be dangerous if ingested by pets or applied topically.
For humans, however, tea tree oil is generally safe when used properly. Correct use involves applying it only externally and diluting it before putting it on.
According to a Guardian article, some studies have shown that tea tree oil has estrogenic effects. Its use has been found to contribute to unnatural breast enlargement in boys. However, the Poison Control Center explains that this is probably an extremely rare occurrence.
Most people don’t experience side effects when they use tea tree oil topically. If you experience pain, swelling, redness or irritation after using tea tree oil, stop using it.
Also, you should make sure that you purchase only high-quality, pure tea tree essential oil like this. Synthetic oil can cause its own series of side effects.
How To Store Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil becomes less stable over time. Oxidization can intensify when the oil is exposed to air, moisture, light and heat. It should be stored in a tightly sealed, dark glass container. Keep it in a cool spot away from the moisture of the shower.
Oxidization changes the oil’s structure and could cause allergies. Many people who have allergic reactions to the oil are responding to oxidized elements in the substance.
A report by the Australian government describes one study that looked at the stability of tea tree oil when used under normal conditions. The bottles of oil were opened periodically, exposing the substance to light and air. The oil remained fairly stable within the first six months.
Even at 12 months, the chemicals in the oil were still at acceptable levels. However, after a year, you should consider trying to use up the rest of your tea tree oil or buy a new batch.
Can You Make Your Own Tea Tree Oil?
The safest way to use tea tree oil is probably to purchase a good bottle of pure essential oil. However, Off The Grid News gives instructions for making your own from tea tree leaves.