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Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is one of the most commonly used essential oils. Tea tree is known as an all-purpose antiseptic. The fragrance promotes cleansing and purity, according to the Essential Oils Desk Reference.
Plant family: Myrtaceae
Production: Steam distilled from leaves and twigs of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia).
Aroma: Fresh, sharp, medicinal.
Perfume/Aromatic note: Top to middle
Is tea tree safe to use during pregnancy? Yes, according to Aromatherapy and Massage For Mother and Baby.
Is tea tree essential oil safe for children? Yes.
Cautions: Low risk of skin sensitization. A poor quality tea tree oil smells like melted rubber.
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: Use tea tree for oily skin and hair and to reduce dandruff and scalp dermatitis. This oil helps relieve acne, dermatitis, diaper rash, fungus, and warts. The aroma builds strength.
The Heart of Aromatherapy: You can use tea tree for daily skin care, to support the respiratory system, and to make natural cleaning blends. The oil can help clear mucous and congestion, ease sore throats and coughs, and calm inflammation. The scent encourages energy, focus, and optimism.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
(updated edition): In addition to helping relieve acne and oily skin,
tea tree oil may help with fungus (such as athlete's foot, candida, and
ringworm), dandruff, cold sores, colds and flu, some respiratory
problems, insect bites, warts, and minor wounds.
Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tea tree oil strengthens the Defensive-Qi and helps clear infections. The oil also reinforces the Lungs, Heart, and nervous system and can tonify Qi-energy. The scent "invigorates the Heart and Mind (Shen), uplifting the spirit and building confidence."
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume I: Psychologically, tea tree oil mildly stimulates the mind and promotes alertness. Physically, the oil restores hypotonic/weak conditions and decongests congestive/damp conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the essential function of tea tree is to tonify the Qi and Yin, clear empty heat, and strengthen the Shen.
The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing: Spiritually, tea tree helps you download and process divine inspiration, healing light, and true wisdom. Mentally, using the essential oil with conscious intent can help you connect with incoming and outgoing wisdom, vibrations, and communication. Emotionally, the oil encourages expansiveness in experiencing the depth of your emotions.
Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Tea tree oil strengthens and invigorates. The oil is especially useful for the third chakra to promote confidence, personal integrity, and the ability to change.
You can find many studies related to tea tree oil at PubMed.
Uses for tea tree essential oil include adding it to homemade deodorants or DIY mouthwashes.
For minor cuts and scrapes, clean the wound with plain soap and water and then:
When you feel a cold coming on, use this steam.
Make a stock blend by adding the essential oils to a 5-ml bottle with an orifice reducer.
To use: Add 1 drop of the stock blend to a bowl of steaming water. With your eyes closed, lean over the bowl and inhale the steam. Repeat several times a day for a week. Pause for a few days, and then repeat for another week.
Tea tree oil is traditionally believed to fight fungus. Studies, including one published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, support using the oil to get rid of fungus.
Fungus can infect the skin, causing reddish round patterns called ringworm (tinea). Ringworm can occur on the body, scalp, groin (jock itch), or feet (athlete's foot).
The easiest way to use tea tree oil for ringworm is to dab it directly onto the fungus. Tea tree is generally acknowledged as a safe oil to apply directly to the skin without dilution. However, it's a good idea to spot test first to make sure you are not sensitive to the essential oil. If in doubt, dilute tea tree in a carrier oil.
Tea tree oil can cause a slight burning sensation, so take care if using on sensitive areas and dilute as needed. Also, be sure to wash your hands after applying the oil, as fungus is easily spread to other parts of the body.
Tea Tree Foot Scrub
Blend the sugar and oil in a 2-ounce glass jar. Stir in the essential oil. Use this scrub in the bath or shower (be careful of a slippery floor), or use it during a foot soak.
Nail Care Blend
For general care of your toes and feet:
Source: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
An Australian study concluded tea tree oil is as effective as benzoyl peroxide in treating acne, with far fewer side effects. You can dab tea tree directly on a blemish, if you are not sensitive to the oil. Or dilute as needed. You can also make facial masks with tea tree.
Invigorating Body Butter
Adapted from New Directions Aromatics
Adapted from DIY Natural
Because tea tree is unfriendly to bacteria, viruses, and mildrew, the essential oil is great for making homemade cleaning products.
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
Mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle:
Shake well before use.
Natural Bathroom Scrub
Mix these ingredients in a container:
Use as you would any other bathroom scrub. Store covered in dry, dark place.
Photo Credit: Geoff Derrin [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons