Tea tree oil comes from a tree grown natively in Australia, and the tree is one of the few things on that continent not designed to explicitly kill you. The scientific name of this tree is Melaleuca alternifolia, the Ti Tree. The Aboriginal people of Australia use tea tree leaves in a variety of manners for a number of problems, including chewing tea tree leaves to alleviate headaches. Western herbalism, however, tends to focus on the uses of tea tree oil, rather than the leaves. Tea tree oil contains a natural astringent Terpinen-4-ol, one of over 90 different compounds found in the oil of the Tea Tree. As a natural astringent, tea tree oil has been found useful in treating a number of common health problems, almost exclusively regarding skin and cosmetic problems. Noting the sheer number of uses that have been realized for tea tree oil, it would be almost impossible to cover them all. So, for the purposes of brevity, we’ll attempt to cover the most common uses for tea tree oil below.
The Ti Tree
This is the official name for the tree Melaleuca alternifolia, the leaves (and oil) of which are so well known for their medicinal properties. It’s obvious that the name Tea Tree is simply a phonetic mishap carried across to popular culture who knows when. The English language is responsible for messing a lot of things up…thanks British people! Alas, tea tree is the most common usage, so we’ll use this term throughout the article rather than pay homage to an outdated terminology.
Tea Tree Oil Toxicity
We cannot continue this article without first mentioning the possible dangers presented by the use of tea tree oil as a natural remedy. There have been a number of studies done on the topic, many of which confirm the effectiveness of the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil and many that have discounted those properties as having a negligible effect on infectious microbes. Really, the most common problem associated with the application of tea tree oil is irritation of the skin, but some of the more severe side-effects may include dizziness, confusion, and even the growth of man boobs in young boys.
Tea Tree Oil Benefits
Tea Tree Oil can be used to get rid of acne. Thanks in part to the superficiality of our society, acne and it’s various cures, has become a popular topic on the web—one of the more popular natural cures for acne being tea tree oil. The case for tea tree oil’s use as a blemish reducing ointment is made for itself by the proven astringent properties of tea tree oil. A common recipe for acne relief using tea tree oil includes both direct application of pure tea tree oil to the infected blemishes and a home made lotion containing 3-5 drops of 100% pure tea tree oil in aloe vera gel, that is then applied to the face (after a good face cleaning) and left on overnight.
Tea Tree Oil is used to get rid of athlete’s foot. If you’ve got stinky, itchy, burning feet, then tea tree oil might be considered a natural miracle to you. Again, the astringent properties of tea tree oil provide the perfect solution to fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Not only is tea tree oil an antifungal agent, its camphoraceous smell is pleasing to the nose. Pure tea tree oil can be applied to the feet for a period of a few weeks to rid yourself of athlete’s foot, or you can add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to your typical foot bath recommended for getting rid of foot fungi.
Tea Tree Oil is also used to get rid of scabies. Scabies are gross, and not all that uncommon. They can be shared with another person by simply shaking hands. Yuck, right? Well, you’re in luck if you have a bottle of tea tree oil in your medicine cabinet because the antimicrobial effects of tea tree oil happen to kill scabies when applied to the infected areas. You can apply the tea tree oil directly to your skin, or if you’re a sensitive person you can mix a little tea tree oil with another oil or lotion, like Aloe, and apply it to the affected area that way.
Tea Tree Oil may also be used to get rid of infection.When we say that tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties, we’re talking about its effects more explicitly on bacteria, and it kills them bacteria real good! One particular brand of burn gel actually lists tea tree oil as its active ingredient. Mixing a liberal dose of tea tree oil to your own natural lotion can make for a rather effective antibiotic cream. However, it should be noted that some studies suggest tea tree oil—more specifically the compound Terpinen-4-ol—may not kill all of the infection causing bacteria, and may promote the accumulation of bacteria strains that are more resistant to tea tree oil and other antibiotics. Just be warned that this is a possibility, not a certainty.
Tea Tree Oil is used to get rid of lice as well. Tea tree oil doesn’t just kill bacteria, fungus, and mites. It does a pretty good number on lice as well—any lice: pubic lice, body lice, and head lice. Treating lice with tea tree oil is a matter of patience in some cases because not all shampoos have a concentration of tea tree oil that’s high enough to kill the lice. You may want to consider concocting your own lice killing shampoo by mixing 100% pure tea tree oil with an all natural soap, like castille soap. The ratio of tea tree oil to soap is really a crap-shoot in most instances, simply because people have varying lengths of hair and skin sensitivities.
More Creative Tea Tree Oil Uses
Tea tree oil can be used as a shoe deodorizer. The idea is simple: apply a sufficient amount of tea tree oil to a ball of cotton or a small cotton cloth to cover the inside of your shoes. Spread evenly and methodically, and allow the oil some time to set in. Doing this once a week can help reduce the obnoxious smell that can be associated with leather shoes. Mind you, leather shoes are expensive, so you may want to try this on a cheaper pair of shoes before moving on to the shoes you bought at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Tea tree oil can be used for cleaning. Since we’ve established that tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties, it’s only nature to assume that it might be used as a way to clean mold. Several drops of pure tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with plain tap water can be used to treat mildew in bathrooms, kitchens, and other humid areas where mold grows best. You can also add a spoonful of tea tree oil to your laundry to help get rid of moldy clothes and linens.
Tea tree oil is used for pest control, but studies suggest that tea tree oil’s effectiveness as a pest control agent is negligible, at best. However, tea tree oil does do a pretty good job at getting rid of mites and other small garden pests. One tablespoon of pure tea tree oil in a spray bottle makes for a pretty good insecticidal spray, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it if you’re dealing with larger, more voracious pests like Japanese Beetles.
Tea Tree Oil Products
Burn-Aid is one of those few well-known ointments that actually lists tea tree oil as its primary active ingredient. Pretty cool, huh? The antimicrobial effects of tea tree oil make it the perfect ingredient (in small amounts) for products like burn gels, where preventing an infection is the goal.
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree & Lavender Shampoo is right up your alley if you’re looking for a brand name company, well known as Paul Mitchell is, that makes a tea tree oil shampoo. In this case, tea tree oil is combined with lavender oil (a popular combination) for the purposes of curing dry scalp and other scalp issues you might have.
Nature’s Gate Organics Shampoo w/ Tea Tree Oilis a good alternative to something as branded as Paul Mitchell. Nature’s Gate makes a variety of products that contain tea tree oil extracts, but you’ll probably have to make your way down to a local coop or Whole Foods store to find them.
Jason 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil is a product I trust after using many of their other cosmetic products like shampoo and body wash. If I were going to pick up a bottle of 100% pure tea tree oil, this would be the brand I’d choose. Not only are they a trustworthy brand, but their products are easy to find at your local coop or Whole Foods, thanks to their smart and resourceful marketing team.
ArtNaturals Tea Tree Oil We also recommend ArtNaturals Tea Tree Oil from Amazon.