Tea tree oil is an excellent fighter against infections and has a pleasant smell, similar to that of a nutmeg. It is obtained from Melaleuca alternifolia, which grows only in Australia and is completely different from all kinds of Camellia genus, of which black, partially fermented and green tea is produced. The oil is obtained by steam distillation, and the quality products contain at least 40% terpine-4-ol, active ingredients that have therapeutic effect, and less than 5% of cineole, a substance that can cause skin irritation (in larger quantities). Its ”popularity” declined after the Second World War, when a mass production of antibiotcs begun. Today, however, it is used more and more than 700 tons of tea tree oild is produced per year.
How does it work?
Tea tree oil is used locally for the treatment of frequent infections. If applied to the skin, it almost completely disables the growth of potentially harmful fungi. Research has shown that it also works against many bacteria, even against those resistant to many powerful antibiotics. Doctors believe that this oil is so effective because it is easily mixed with fatty exudates of the skin so it can quickly and effectively act against germs.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: the antiseptic action of tea tree oil is particularly useful in cuts and scratches, as well as in insect stings and bites. This oil stimulates healing of minor wounds, helps in preventing infections and reduces the potential of a possible scarring. It works against the Trichophyton fungi, the cause of athlete’s foot, skin infection around the sex organs and fingernails. It is also effective against Candida albicans fungi and Trichomonas vaginalis, which cause vaginal infections. Some fungal infections are very stubborn, and your doctor may need to prescribe a stronger conventional drug.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: tea tree oil can be useful in treating acne. In one study, it was confirmed that in the treatment of this skin disease, gel containing 5% of tea oil is as effective as a 5% benzoic peroxide lotion, the active ingredient of most anti-acne non-prescription medicines. But tea oil causes less side effects – there was less scaling, dryness and itching of the skin than in the treatment with benzoyl peroxide preparations. Another study confirmed the efficacy of the solution with 0.5% content of tea tree oil in the protection agains Pityrosporum ovale fungus, which is a common cause of dandruff. This oil is sometimes recommended in the treatment of viral warts, but research has not confirmed the effectiveness of tea tree oil in these cases.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: For the treatment of athlete’s foot, skin injury and nail infection: apply one to two drops of pure, undiluted ointment oil to affected areas, two to three times a day. Creams or lotions can also be used. In cases of vaginal yeast infection: place vaginalete with tea tree oil twice a day, five days in a row.
USE GUIDELINES: tea tree oil is only applied locally, never take it orally; if someone (for example, a child) drinks it, call a doctor or send that person to the hospital. Rarely, in some people, tea tree oil can cause an allergic rash. So, if you think you’re alergic, put just a small amount of tea tree oil on your forearm. If you are allergic to it, redness or swelling will appear. In this case, dilute the tea oil with a small amount of cooking oil or almond oil and repeat the test on the other hand. If there is no reaction, it means you can use diluted oil.
Possible side effects
Tea tree oil is safe for local application, but occasionally skin irritation may occur. Like many other unrefined vegetable oils, it can also cause eye or mucous membranes irritation.
IMPORTANT: tea tree oil is only used locally (on skin and visible mucous membranes, as instructed). Do not drink it because it can be toxic. Avoid contact with eyes.
Consult your physician before the application of tea tree oil to deep open wounds.