Tea tree oil has been used since centuries for its medicinal properties. Recently, it has gained a lot of popularity as a natural skin care products. This has led to increased usages of it in beauty products and household cleaners such as soaps, creams, lotions, toothpastes, deodorants, disinfectants, gargles and germicides.
Oil extracted from Melaleuca species other than M. alternifolia, including M. dissitiflora, M. linariifolia, and M. uncinata are also considered as tea tree oil according to international standards.
Tea tree is commonly also known as narrow-leaf paperbark, narrow-leaf tea tree, ti-tree, ti-trol, melasol, Teebaum (Ge), Albero da tè (It), Arbol de te (Sp).
Tea tree belongs to Myrtaceae or Myrtle family in Melaleuca genus. There are around 230 species of shrubs and trees in Melaleuca genus.
Tea tree is native to Australia and is grown in and around southeast Queensland adjacent ranges of New South Wales. It is a small tree about 20 feet tall with bushy crown and whitish, papery bark. The leaves are arranged alternately and are smooth, soft, linear in shape. Leaves of tea tree have needle like leaves similar to cypress and are rich in oil.
History of Use of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree is native to Australia and aborigines have been using the tea tree and its oil for various purposes including medicinal since centuries. They used to apply the crushed leaves on wounds, brew an infusion of the leaves to make a tea for treatment of sore throats, inhale the oil from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds, apply on the skin for minor wounds, abrasions and insect bites and stings.
The name tea tree was coined by Captain James Cook when he observed the local Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use the leaves to prepare a tea.
Extraction of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is extracted from leaves or twigs of the tea tree plant using steam or water distillation. The yield of the process is around 1-2%.
Characteristics of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a colourless to pale yellow liquid with a fresh, warm, camphorous and spicy aroma. Tea tree oil has middle-to-top-note.
|Name||Tea Tree Oil|
|Botanical Name||Melaleuca alternifolia|
|Colour||Colourless to Pale Yellow|
|Aroma||Fresh, Warm, Camphorous, Spicy|
|Note||Middle to Top|
Composition of Tea Tree Oil
The main components present in the tea tree oil are terpinene-4-ol (up to 48%), cineol, pinene, terpinenes, cymene, sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpene alcohols, among others.
As per ISO 4730, the composition of tea tree oil should be as follow.
|Component||Minimum (%)||Maximum (%)|
Some other compounds present in tea tree oil are sabinene, 1.8-cineole, Aromadendrene, Ledene, Globulol, Viridiflorol.
Adulteration of Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil may be adulterated by adding γ-terpinene and α-pinene, β-pinene from different sources. In some cases, synthetic terpinen-4-ol is also used.
Blending with Tea Tree Oil
Benefits of Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree has anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, balsamic, cicatrizant, expectorant, fungicidal, insecticidal, stimulant and sudorific properties. According to data, a range of yeasts, dermatophytes, and other filamentous fungi are susceptible to tea tree oil. Terpinen-4-ol and α-terpineol present in the oil contribute substantially to the oil’s antibacterial and anti-fungal activities.
One of the most popular usages of tea tree oil is for skin care. Tea tree essential oil helps to restore and support healthy skin. It can be used in skin problems including contact dermatitis, athletes foot, nail fungus, cold sores, insect bites, cuts, blisters, warts and shingles.
Use with a carrier oil like almond oil (5-6 drops to ⅛ cup of almond oil) for use as blended message oil to deal with infections and inflammation. Tea tree oil may also be added to a cream or lotion and applied to the skin to deal with a boils, abscesses, acne, bite wounds.
Tea tree oil is one of the most effective natural treatment of acne. Usages of tea tree oil can significantly improve the appearance of blemishes and scars. Add 4 drops of tea tree oil to a half cup of water and apply to the face with a cotton pad once daily.
Tea tree oil is effective against dandruff and head lice. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a dollop of shampoo when washing hair for treating dandruff. In case of head lice, apply directly to scalp. Wait for 30-40 minutes before washing the hair. Repeat alternate days for 2 weeks.
Due to tea tree oil’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, tea tree oil makes a great all-purpose cleaner and sanitiser. Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with a cup of water and a half cup of white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use as an all-purpose antimicrobial cleaner.
Tea tree oil is an effective anti-inflammatory agent due to presence of terpinen-4-ol, an isomer of terpineol. Tea tree essential oil not only alleviates pain, but also helps to reduce inflammation. It can be useful in case of sprains, arthritis, bunions, bursitis, eczema, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome , and haemorrhoids.
Tea tree oil works as an expectorant when inhaled and can be used for throat and chest infections and for clearing up mucus. It has been used successfully for clearing colds, asthma, sinus infections, and bronchitis. As a decongestant and analgesic pain reliever, tea tree oil is helpful for relieving cold and flu symptoms.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to steaming hot water and inhale. Additionally, to deal with sore throat, adda few drops to glass of water and then gargle. Make sure NOT to intake the tea tree il added water.
Tea tree oil is a very powerful immuno – stimulant and helps body respond and fight against these organisms. When used aromatically, its healing properties promote immune system strengthening and can aid in helping prevent sickness. It is a powerful immune-system stimulant for fighting off infections that are bacterial, viral, and fungal.
To inhale, add a few drops of tea tree oil to steaming hot water. Inhaling helps in fighting colds, sinusitis, bronchitis and other respiratory ailment.
Personal Care Products:
Tea tree oil is widely used preparation of personal care products such as soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, disinfectants, gargles, germicides and, increasingly, in aftershaves and spicy colognes.
MSRA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as hospital super bug, is a bacteria that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. MRSA is common in hospitals, prisons and nursing homes where people are likelihood to have open wounds and weakened immune systems.
Tea tree oil has been shown to have activity against MRSA both in vivo and in vitro. However, studies investigating the use of tea tree oil as agent for MRSA decolonization do not provide strong enough evidence for its induction into universally used treatment regimens. Tea tree oil is safe and well tolerated by patients and can be considered as an alternative agent to eradicate MRSA from patients who are unable or unwilling to follow current standard of care treatment regimens.
Safety With Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is considered a safe oil as it is non-toxic and non-irritant. However, some individuals may be prone to skin irritation or allergies. It is advisable to conduct a patch test.
It should not be used on deep wounds or near the eyes, ears, nose. Tea tree oil should NOT be used internally. Contact your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or being treated for other health challenges. Dilute with a carrier (if needed) before each use. Keep out of reach of children.
Store in a dark glass bottle, tightly capped, in a cool place.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.