Tea Tree Oil: Medicinal Treatments, Household Uses, and Other Benefits
Tea Tree Oil, otherwise known as Melaleuca oil or Australian tea tree oil, is an essential oil that is produced by steam distilling the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a native plant of Australia.
In the past, the leaves were often used as a tea substitute, which is why “tea” is in the name. The oil itself has many medicinal benefits and a wide variety of uses. Tea tree oil is NOT the same as Chinese tea oil, cajeput oil, kanuka oil, manuka oil, ti tree oil, or niauouli oil.
Tea tree oil has been used for centuries. Australian aboriginals crushed the leaves and applied them to skin cuts, burns, and infections as a healing treatment. Tea tree oil can be purchased as a pure essential oil or found as an ingredient in creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, and shampoos.
Tea tree oil contains terpenoids. According to research, terpenoids, particularly terpinen-4-ol, contain antiseptic and antifungal properties. Tea tree oil’s antimicrobial activity can be attributed to these compounds.
Tea Tree Oil Medicinal Uses
* Acne (Pimples) or Oily Skin
* After Shaving Rash and Skin Irritations
* Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)
* Bacterial and Fungal Skin Infections
* Body Odor
* Boils, Blisters, and Carbuncles
* Canker Sores
* Dry, Chapped Lips
* Chicken Pox, Shingles, and Measles
* Cold Sores or Herpes Simplex Infection
* Colds like the Common Cold or Head Cold and Flu
* Congestion and Sore Throat
* Cough and Runny Nose
* Cracked Dry Skin
* Cuts, Scrapes, Wounds, Abrasions, and Minor Skin Irritations
* Dental Health including Bad Breath (Halitosis), Tooth Decay, Periodontal Disease, and Inflamed Gums
* Ear Infections
* Eczema and Psoriasis
* Fungal or Bacterial Nail Infections of the Fingernail and Toenail (Paronychia and Onychomycosis)
* Infection Prevention (Antiseptic)
* Insect Bites and Stings
* Lice and Nits
* Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)
* Rashes from Chafing, Nappy (Diaper) Rash, and Gravel Rash
* Respiratory Conditions such as Asthma, Bronchitis, and Laryngitis
* Ringworm (Tinea)
* Skin Ulcers
* Sweaty, Smelly Feet
* Vaginal Yeast Infections (Vaginitis)
* Verrucae (Warts)
* Weakened Immune System
Tea Tree Oil Household Uses
Tea Tree Oil can be used to make homemade non-toxic household products like all-purpose cleaner, daily shower cleaner, toilet cleaner, among others. It can be added to your dishwasher or laundry to give it that extra cleaning boost and an amazingly fresh scent. Tea Tree Oil is also a less expensive and safer form of pest control. Tea Tree Oil can be applied to areas wherever you have problems with insects entering your home. Insects are repelled by the scent and will not go near it.
Tea Tree Oil Safety
Tea tree oil should NEVER be swallowed or taken internally, even in small quantities. It can cause impaired immune function, diarrhea, and potentially fatal central nervous system depression (excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, confusion, coma). The tea tree oil in commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes is generally considered to be acceptable because it is not swallowed.
Immediately seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms of an overdose: excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, poor coordination, diarrhea, vomiting.
Do NOT use tea tree oil if you have hormone-sensitive cancers or are pregnant or breastfeeding. A single study shows that tea tree oil may alter hormone levels. There have been three reports of topical tea tree oil products causing unexplained breast enlargement in boys.
If you have sensitive skin, use caution when using tea tree oil. Undiluted tea tree oil may cause allergic reactions such as skin irritation, redness, blistering, and itching.
When mixing or storing tea tree oil, always use a GLASS container. Tea tree oil can disintegrate plastic and other porous materials allowing potentially toxic or unsafe substances to end up in your final product and/or damage the surface upon which it was sitting.
KEEP TEA TREE OIL OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS! Tea tree oil poisoning has been reported in both cats and dogs when applied to the skin at too high of a dose. In particular, a cat liver processes essential oils differently than a human liver or a dog liver. Thus, it is wise to avoid using tea tree oil and citrus essential oils on cats altogether. Tea tree oil fumes alone have also been reported to be toxic to birds. Do not use tea tree oil if you have birds in your home. It is best to use extreme caution when using tea tree oil on children or non-human animals and around birds. To be safe, you may wish to consider avoiding the use of tea tree oil altogether on children and non-human animals or around birds no matter how diluted. If you use tea tree oil on someone other than yourself or another adult, remember, the smaller the child or non-human animal, the smaller the dosage. Even tiny amounts may be too much for a small child or non-human animal.
Symptoms of Tea Tree Oil Poisoning in Non-Human Animals
If you’ve used tea tree oil on your companion animal and he or she is going to have a reaction to it, you will usually notice the following symptoms within 2 to 8 hours following application:
loss of muscular coordination
shaking and tremors
a change in behavior
If you are unsure, it is best to bring your companion animal to the veterinarian as soon as possible.