Healing Properties of Tea Tree Oil
Welcome to the 2nd post in my new blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy. Each week I will focus on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties. I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils. Last week we talked about jojoba oil.
What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a pale yellow colour to nearly colorless and clear essential oil (source) from leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia (see picture above), a plant native to Australia (source).
Over 98 compounds are contained in the oil (source)
What studies have ben done on tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil has shown to be:
- antiviral against herpes simplex virus in culture (source)
- able to kill head lice in vitro (source)
- comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of moderate common acne (although with a slower onset) (source)
- antibacterial againist bacteria known to cause acne (source) and a wide range of other bacteria (source)
- able to treat dandruff with a 5% solution (source)
- antifungal (source) for a wide variety of fungi (source) (source)
- antiprotzoal (source)
- comparable to clotrimazole in effectiveness against onychomycosis (toe fungal infection) (source)
- able to kill the yeast Candida in vitro (source)
- more effective than commercial medications against the scabies mite in vitro (source)
This paper has a great summary of most of the studies I cited above
How can you use tea tree oil in aromatherapy?
There are endless uses for tea tree oil! You can use it at 100% concentration (see warning below about a possible skin irritation) to treat the above mentioned diseases. You can also add it to your shampoo, lotion, a vaporizer or even used it as part of a house cleaner (source)!
If you don’t want to use the tea tree oil at 100% you can add 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil to half a cup of the carrier oil (such as olive oil or jojoba oil).
Are there any risks to using tea tree oil?
Don’t use it orally!
According to the American Cancer Society
“Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed. It has been reported to cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, blood cell abnormalities, and severe rashes. It should be kept away from pets and children.” (source)
Only 1 out of 725 patients experienced an allergic reaction when tea tree oil was applied to the skin at 1% dilution (source)
Have you used tea tree oil before? If so, how have you used it?