The Miracle of Tea Tree Oil

Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Other names: Australian Tea Tree, Paperbark Tree, Punk Tree, Ti Tree

A Remedy For
Tea Tree oil has demonstrated its medicinal value as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Because of these properties, it is used externally to treat many skin problems, including athlete's foot, toenail fungus, acne, cold sores, diaper rash, scabies, insect bites, dandruff, and wounds. When prepared as a rinse, it may also help relieve sore throat, inflamed gums, and vaginitis.

Some proponents recommend mixing a few drops of Tea Tree oil with a base oil and massaging it into sore muscles, or into sprains, strains, and arthritic joints. Advocates also say that few drops in a vaporizer inhaled as steam may relieve nasal congestion and sinusitis. Such uses, however, lack any scientific support.

Similarly, aromatherapists recommend inhaling the scent of Tea Tree oil for many of the same bacterial, viral, and fungal disorders treated with external applications of the oil. However, it is unclear how the aroma can have the same effect as direct application to the infection, and no evidence exists to support this technique. In addition, aromatherapists suggest that inhaling the Tea Tree scent can relieve shock and hysteria, bronchitis, coughs, tuberculosis, and whooping cough, and contend that it can be used to boost the immune response against colds, flu, and chickenpox---but again without supporting evidence.

What It Is; Why It Works
Tea Tree is an evergreen that grows in tropical climates, most notably, Australia and New Zealand, where aborigines chew the leaves or crush them to make tea. Tea Tree oil, which has a strong distinctive smell, is steam distilled from the leaves. It is laced with compounds active against candida (yeast infection), a number of viruses and bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, and various fungi. Its infection-fighting value is enhanced by its ability to penetrate the skin.

Avoid If...
Use with caution if you are prone to allergies. Tea Tree can cause contact dermatitis (skin irritation). Discontinue use if a rash develops.

Special Cautions
Never take essential oils internally. They are extremely potent and can be poisonous. Homemade Tea Tree oil preparations used to douche, rinse, or gargle should always be diluted with water. Do not swallow any form of Tea Tree, and keep it away from the eyes.

Possible Drug Interactions
No drug interactions have been reported.

Special Information If You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
No harmful effects are known when used externally.

How To Prepare
Tea Tree oil is manufactured as a standardized extract from the leaves of the plant. It is available in a variety of preparations, including gel, ointment, cream, and mouthwash forms, and as a pure essential oil.

Typical Dosage
Use only as directed by the package instructions. For instance, in the case of acne, a preparation of no more than 15 percent Tea Tree oil should be applied twice a day. For fungal infections, preparations of 70 to 100 percent can be applied full strength with a clean cotton swab twice daily. For a gargle or mouth rinse, use only a product identified as a mouthwash. Vaginal douching should be done under a doctor's supervision with a preparation formulated especially for this purpose. When using the essential oil for aromatherapy, measure it in drops. Never take the oil internally.

Some signs of overdose include confusion, loss of consciousness, and coma. If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately.


Tea tree oil is great as an insect repellent. Place a few drops into mop water. Also, fleas tend to bite feet, ankles and hands at night. Rub some tea tree oil onto the ankles and wrists before going to sleep if you don't want to get bitten while sleeping.

Tea Tree Oil

What Is It?

It was centuries ago that Australian aborigines probably first started plucking leaves from a native tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) to treat skin infections. In 1770, sailors from Captain Cook's expedition to the South Seas ventured ashore at New South Wales and brewed a tea using the leaves of the same tree. This event engendered the herb's English name "tea tree"--which is actually something of a misnomer because the Melaleuca species bears no relation to the Camellia species, the usual source of tea leaves.

Today, an aromatic oil with a fragrance reminiscent of nutmeg is steam-distilled from the Melaleuca leaves. Because the Melaleuca alternifolia grows only in Australia, that country is now the major source of tea tree oil, exporting some 700 tons of annually. Tea tree products are often referred to as "melaleuca oil." The pure oil is colorless to pale yellow.

Health Benefits

High-quality tea tree oil contains 40% or more of terpinen-4-ol, the ingredient that fights harmful bacteria and fungi and makes the oil so effective in preventing and fighting infection in cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and stings.

Specifically, tea tree oil may help to:

  • Treat cuts, scrapes, insect bites and stings, and other minor skin wounds and irritations. Tea tree oil blends rapidly and easily with the skin's own oils. In the process, the oil alters the chemical barrier of the skin, making it less hospitable to the growth of fungi and other organisms. In these ways, tea tree oil not only lessens the chance of infection, it also promotes healing and reduces the likelihood of scarring.
  • Fight fungal nail infections, jock itch, and athlete's foot. Tea tree oil has been shown to be effective in countering Trichophyton, the fungus that causes numerous topical infections, including athlete's foot and jock itch.
  • Shorten the course of vaginal yeast infections. Two of the organisms that cause these discomforts, Candida albicans and Trichomonas vaginalis, apparently succumb to the actions of tea tree oil.
  • Gently control acne. Even severe cases of acne have been shown to benefit from anti-acne preparations that contain up to 15% tea tree oil, an effect that can be explained by the oil's antibacterial and skin-healing properties. In one study conducted in Australia, a comparison was made between a gel containing 5% tea tree oil and a traditional 5% benzoyl peroxide acne lotion. The products proved similar in their effectiveness against pimples, although the herbal preparation worked more slowly. It was notable, however, that the product containing the tea tree oil caused significantly less dryness, redness, scaling, and itching to the surrounding skin.
  • Treat dandruff and head lice. According to one study, a 5% solution of tea tree oil is effective against Pityrosporum ovale, a fungus that can cause dandruff. In a laboratory analysis of tea-tree chemistry, substances were discovered that can kill head lice. But human research is still needed, especially since the skin of children (a population particularly susceptible to lice) may be overly sensitive to tea tree oil.
  • Curtail warts. Tea tree oil is sometimes recommended for warts, which are caused by viruses. More research is needed to determine whether the oil is truly effective for this purpose, but it certainly does not seem to cause any complications.

    Note: Tea tree oil has also been found to be useful for a number of other disorders. For information on these additional ailments, see our Dosage Recommendations Chart for Tea Tree Oil.

  • Forms:

    Dosage Information

    Special tip:

    --Look for tea tree oil derived only from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. Oil from other species can have a high percentage of cineole, a compound that can irritate the skin and hinder the oil's active ingredients from providing any therapeutic benefit.

  • For minor skin wounds, insect bites and stings, and irritations: Cleanse the wound and apply one or two drops of tea tree oil to the affected area two or three times daily.
  • For nail infections: Rub tea tree oil on the nail twice a day.
  • For athlete's foot: Apply tea tree oil or cream to affected areas twice a day and/or use it in a foot bath. For a foot bath: Put 20 drops of tea tree oil in a small basin of warm water and soak the feet for 15 minutes, two or three times a day. Dry the feet thoroughly after soaking and apply a drop or two of oil to the affected area
  • For vaginal yeast infections: Use a tea tree oil vaginal suppository, available at health-food outlets, every 12 hours for up to five days.
  • For acne: Apply a drop or two to each acne lesion three times a day.
  • For warts: Put a few drops of the oil on a small gauze compress and tape it over the wart at bedtime. Remove it in the morning. Repeat until the wart heals.

    Be sure to check out our Dosage Recommendations Chart for Tea Tree Oil, which lists therapeutic dosages for specific ailments at a glance.

  • Guidelines for Use

  • When buying a topical antifungal preparation advertised to contain tea–tree oil, make sure the oil is from M. alternifolia and is one of the first ingredients listed.
  • Tea tree oil is found in various skin-care and beauty products (shampoos, soaps, and so on) but often in amounts so minuscule that it provides virtually no antibacterial effect. To learn if a particular product can produce the benefits of tea tree oil, request information from the manufacturer about studies supporting such a claim.

  • Some toothpastes contain tea tree oil. However, because the oil is dangerous if swallowed, only very small amounts are included. This makes the products safe, but essentially nullifies any bacteria-fighting benefits they claim to have.
  • General Interaction

    There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with tea tree oil.

    Possible Side Effects

  • Tea tree oil can irritate sensitive skin, especially in the vaginal area. It can also prompt an allergic reaction in some people. As a safety precaution, dab a small amount on your inner arm with a cotton swab before using the oil or a product that contains it. If you are allergic, your arm will quickly become red or inflamed.
  • Cautions

  • Never ingest tea tree oil. It is for external use only, and should never be applied around the eyes. If you accidentally ingest the oil, immediately contact a doctor or a poison control center. Consult your doctor before replacing any prescription medications with tea tree oil.
    Apply a drop or two to each acne lesion 3 times a day.
    Athlete's Foot
    Apply oil or cream to affected areas twice a day and/or use as a footbath.
    Cuts and Scrapes
    Apply cream to wound 3 times a day in place of aloe or lavender oil.
    Insect Bites and Stings
    Apply 1 drop of oil to skin several times a day, or as needed.
    Put several drops on a compress. Use overnight until the wart heals.


    Tea Tree Oil: "Medicine Chest in a Bottle"

    Cures all... costs little

    Ranging in price from about $7-11 CAD for 10-15 ml, a single bottle can replace many of the medications, treatments and health products in your medicine cabinet.

    The best tea tree oil is organic, and found in indigo blue glass bottles. Never buy tea tree oil (or any essential oil) in clear bottles, or in plastic bottles. Clear bottles allow sunlight to penetrate the oil, which can damage its delicate properties. Plastic can be dissolved by the oil, which in turn can contaminate the oil. Always store it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.

    Tea tree oil's most outstanding quality is its potency as an anti-fungal. It is used to cure fungal infections such as athlete's foot, ringworm, dandruff, yeast infections, candida and thrush. But it is also highly effective as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic. It is deep-penetrating, and is 4-10 times more soothing than aloe.

    Common uses for tea tree oil

    Below is a small sample of the many uses for tea tree oil. A word of caution-tea tree oil is very pungent and potent. It should only be used externally, and sparingly. It should not be used on babies or small children. Keep it away from eyes and wash you hands after using it. If you, your child or pet find it too strong, try diluting it with water until you find a comfortable potency.

    SOURCE: Tea Tree Oil: "Medicine Chest in a Bottle"

    You cannot poison your body into health with drugs, chemo or radiation. The homeopathic approach treats the whole body, ignites the body's internal healing force and stimulates the body's natural abilities to heal itself.  Health can only be achieved with healthful living.

    All information posted on this web site is the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer of your choice for medical care and advice. 

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