Tea tree oil, commonly known as melaleuca oil, has been used by the Aboriginal people of Austria as a traditional remedy for years due to its antibacterial properties. It is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a tiny tree endemic to Australia’s Queensland and New South Wales. Melaleuca alternifolia should not be confused with the plant whose leaves are used to create green, black, and oolong teas.
Tea tree leaves are crushed to extract the oil and inhaled for coughs and colds or applied directly to the skin for healing. The oil is thought to be antibacterial when used topically. Treatments for acne, nail fungus, athlete’s foot, lice, and insect bites typically use this oil. Tea tree oil includes several chemicals such as terpinen-4-ol that have demonstrated the ability to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Tea tree oil, like other plants, has potential adverse effects. Utilizing it may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some people. According to the National Capital Poison Center, tea tree oil should not be consumed orally to avoid significant side effects like confusion and inability to walk.
Melaleuca oil is now widely available in its purest undiluted or neat form. Diluted formulations range from 5% to 50% strength in skincare products. Among the leading players in the market are Desert Essence, NOW, Herb Pharm, Garden of Life, and Dr. Mercola.
What Are The Benefits Of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is affordable and safe when used as prescribed and has scientifically proven benefits. According to research, tea tree oil has the following benefits.
The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil are arguably its most notable feature. Various approaches have been used to explore its mode of action against the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli, and Candida albicans. The oil’s broad-spectrum antibacterial activity is attributed to its ability to break bacteria’s cell walls, according to a study by Cox et al. in the British Journal Of Dermatology.
Exposing the organisms to tea tree oil at the lowest inhibitory and bactericidal/fungicidal concentrations decreased respiration and increased the permeability of bacterial cytoplasmic and yeast plasma membranes, as measured by propidium iodide uptake. Tea tree oil’s potential to destroy the permeability barrier of cell membrane structures and the loss of chemiosmotic regulation that results is the most likely source of its deadly impact at low inhibitory levels.
Tea tree oil’s high content of terpinen-4-ol, an anti-inflammatory component, may aid in inflammation relief. Tea tree oil was found to be more effective than paraffin oil at reducing edema in histamine-induced skin irritation in humans based on a study by Koh et al. in the British Journal of Dermatology. The effects of liquid paraffin on histamine-induced weal and flare were insignificant. There was also no change in the mean flare area between the control and tea tree oil-treated skin. However, the average weal volume fell considerably after using tea tree oil. The investigation revealed that the water-soluble tea tree oil components, particularly terpinen-4-ol, which accounts for 40% of tea tree oil, can inhibit the generation of inflammatory mediators.
Tea tree oil’s capacity to destroy a variety of yeasts and fungi is highlighted in a review of its effectiveness by Carson et al. as published in the Clinical Microbiology Reviews journal. Candida albicans, a form of yeast that typically affects the skin, genitals, throat, and mouth, is the focus of the majority of the studies evaluated. Other data shows that various tea tree oils affect dermatophytes, yeasts, and filamentous fungi. Tea tree oil affects the permeability of Candida albicans cells in the same way that bacteria does. Propidium iodide uptake was observed after treating Candida albicans with 0.25% tea tree oil. The oil prevents the production of germ tubes, also known as mycelial, conversion in Candida albicans. These cells were actively developing but not producing germ tubes, showing that morphogenesis is suppressed selectively. The inhibition of germ tube production was demonstrated to be reversible as cells could make germ tubes after the tea tree oil was removed. However, germ tube production was delayed, indicating that the oil has a post-antifungal function.
Several studies on the antiviral activity of tea tree oil have been investigated. Tea tree oil’s antiviral action was initially demonstrated using tobacco plants and the tobacco mosaic virus. Nicotiana glutinosa plants were treated with 100, 250, or 500 ppm of tea tree oil or control solutions and subsequently infected with tobacco mosaic virus in field trials by Bishop, C.D as per the Journal of Essential Oil Research. Plants treated with tea tree oil had considerably fewer lesions per square centimeter of leaf than controls after 10 days. The activity of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against HSV (herpes simplex virus) was investigated by Schnitzler et al. in the Pharmazie journal. Viruses were incubated with varying doses of tea tree oil before being used to infect cell monolayers. The number of plaques generated by the tea tree oil-treated virus and untreated control virus was measured and compared after four days. Tea tree oil concentrations inhibited plaque development by 50% compared to controls. According to these investigations, tea tree oil reduced HSV-1 titers by 98.2% and HSV-2 titers by 93.0% at the higher concentration of 0.003%. Tea tree oil was demonstrated to have the most significant effect on the free virus (before the infection of cells) when treated at different stages in the replicative virus cycle. At the same time, a minor reduction in plaque formation was seen when tea tree oil was applied during the adsorption period.
5. Fight Acne
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, research on the benefits of tea tree oil administered topically in people is minimal. However, the oil may be beneficial for various skin conditions. Acne, the most frequent skin issue, affects up to 50 million Americans. Jooya et al. published an article in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology that discovered a substantial difference between treating acne with tea tree oil gel and a placebo. In this study, tea tree oil treatment improved both the total acne count and the severity of the acne in participants. This investigation provided previous studies examining the effectiveness of 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion and 5% tea tree oil gel in treating mild to moderate acne. Both treatments reduced the number of acne lesions significantly; however, the tea tree oil took longer. There were fewer adverse effects for those who used tea tree oil. You can make an acne remedy by mixing one part tea tree oil with nine parts water and using a cotton swab to apply the mixture to problem areas once or twice daily, as needed.
6. Help Keep Pesky Insects Away
Tea tree oil may help keep insects at bay. According to one study by Klauck et al. in the Medical and Veterinary Entomology journal, cows treated with tea tree oil had 61% fewer flies 24 hours later than cows not treated with the oil. It’s likely to conclude that tea tree oils have insecticidal and repelling properties against the fly species studied. Tea tree oil worked as an insect repellant. In a test tube study by Adams et al. in the Parasitology Research journal, it was found to fend off mosquitoes better than DEET, the most popular active ingredient in commercial insect repellents. To prepare a bug and mosquito repellent spray, combine 20 drops of tea tree oil, citronella essential oil, lavender essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, one tablespoon vodka, and distilled water in a spray bottle.
7. Kill Bacteria And Viruses
Tea tree oil works well as a natural hand sanitizer. It has been found to destroy various common bacteria and viruses that cause sickness, including Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae. In a study by Messager et al., as stated in the Journal of Hospital Infection, various handwash manufacturers found that adding tea tree oil to the cleansers increased their efficiency against Escherichia coli. Tea tree oil can be used to make a hydrating, all-natural hand sanitizer by combining 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil in a bowl and adding 3 oz ethyl alcohol and 1 oz aloe vera gel. Pour the mixture into little colored squirt bottles to keep the essential oils from being exposed to light.
8. Help Control Underarm Odor
Tea tree oil’s antimicrobial properties may aid in the management of perspiration-related underarm odor. Sweat has no scent, but a moderate to strong smell is formed when secretions from your sweat glands interact with microorganisms on your skin. These glands are concentrated in the underarm area, which is mainly responsible for what is usually referred to as body odor. Tea tree oil’s antibacterial characteristics make it a natural alternative to antiperspirants and deodorants.
9. Boost Wound Healing
Tea tree oil may promote wound healing and avoid infection in cuts and abrasions. The oil has been demonstrated in studies to help reduce inflammation and stimulate the activity of white blood cells, which are essential in the healing process. Tea tree oil’s antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-oxidant properties may reduce inflammation and promote healing. Tea tree oil was added to conventional wound management in a trial of ten people with wounds. All but one participant reported a reduction in healing time in the study by Chin et al. as published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Each time a new wound dressing was applied, a few drops of tea tree oil was added.
10. Control Dandruff
Dandruff is a scalp problem characterized by irritation and dry, white flakes of dead skin. Malassezia is a fungus that resembles yeast and may be found in small amounts on everyone’s scalp and can become overgrown in some individuals. This could result from a medical problem or poor hygiene habits, such as not shampooing frequently. According to a study by Satchell et al. in the Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology, 5% tea tree oil can treat mild to moderate dandruff caused by the yeast Pityrosporum ovale. Compared to a placebo, patients using 5% tea tree oil shampoo daily for four weeks experienced significant improvements in overall severity, itching, and greasiness.
11. Treat Athlete’s Foot
An athlete’s foot is a painfully tricky condition to manage. Medically known as tinea pedis, it is a fungal infection that affects the feet and can spread to toenails and hands. Peeling, blisters, cracking, and redness are some of the symptoms. Antifungal medicines are commonly used to treat athlete’s foot. Tea tree oil has been shown to be a viable alternative for symptom relief. In a 158-person controlled research study by Wendy Welder as per the Journal of Phytopharmacology, 72% of the group using tea tree oil experienced a noticeable clinical improvement in athlete’s foot, compared to 39% of the placebo group. To prepare a natural therapy for athlete’s foot symptoms, combine 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 20–25 drops of tea tree oil. Blend the ingredients in a closed container and stir to combine. Apply twice daily to clean, dry feet.
12. Help Reduce The Growth Of Mold On Fruits And Vegetables
Fresh food is nutritious, but unfortunately, it’s also prone to the growth of Botrytis cinerea, a gray mold that thrives in warm, humid environments. Tea tree oil’s antifungal components terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole have been proven to help inhibit the growth of this mold on fruits and vegetables based on a study by Yu et al. in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Add 5–10 drops of tea tree oil to the water before rinsing and thoroughly drying your produce to prevent mold.
What Are The Risks (Side Effects) Of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is generally considered safe but has potential risks and side effects.
Never swallow tea tree oil as it can cause:
- Severe rashes
- Stomach ache
- Blood cell abnormalities
- Decreasing levels of consciousness
- A lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements (ataxia)
Some side effects associated with using tea tree oil topically include:
In some situations, tea tree oil might act as a hormone disruptor. It can cause prepubertal gynecomastia or abnormal breast growth in young males, according to Dr. Ramsey of the Endocrine.org website. To help reduce the risks and side effects of tea tree oil, avoid ingestion, apply diluted oil topically only, and use oil that has been properly stored can
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work Within The Human Body?
Due to its antimicrobial characteristics, tea tree oil is the active ingredient in many topical preparations used to treat cutaneous infections. Tea tree oil is made of terpene hydrocarbons, primarily monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and the alcohols that go with them. Terpenes are volatile aromatic hydrocarbons that can be considered isoprene polymers.
According to the findings, tea tree oil’s broad-spectrum activity included antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal properties. The hydrocarbon structure of the oil and its associated lipophilicity were used to develop a mechanism of action against bacteria. Tea tree oil and its components were assumed to act similarly to hydrocarbons, which partition preferentially into biological membranes and disrupt critical processes. This hypothesis is backed by evidence that tea tree oil permeabilizes model liposomal systems.
Candida albicans has been the subject of practically all studies on antifungal activity mechanisms, suggesting that tea tree oil affects the permeability of Candida albicans in the same way that bacteria does. Candida glabrata’s permeability was likewise influenced by tea tree oil. The research also showed that Candida elegans’ membrane fluidity was high. The fact that the oil considerably modified the membrane properties of Candida albicans cells treated with 0.25% tea tree oil demonstrated that the oil significantly alters the membrane properties of Candida albicans.
How Do You Determine The Correct Tea Tree Oil Dosage?
Adults have most typically used tea tree oil as gels, shampoos, mouth rinses, body washes, sprays, and lotions, with concentrations ranging from 5% to 50%. Consult a healthcare professional to determine the optimal product and dosage for a specific problem.
What Are The Most Common Questions About Tea Tree Oil Usage?
To better understand its uses and benefits, we will answer the most common questions about tea tree oil.
What Are The Facts About Tea Tree Oil?
The facts about tea tree oil are based on real-world knowledge and observations about the plant. Contrary to popular belief, Melaleuca alternifolia is not related to Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub whose leaves are used to make the popular beverage iced tea. Tea tree oil can be applied to almost any part of the body, although it works best from the neck up. It also works wonders on the scalp and hair, removing dandruff, preventing and reversing hair loss, and keeping hair shinier, thicker, and stronger. During World War II, anyone who worked in the tea tree oil industry was exempt from the draft until they supplied enough tea tree oil for hospitals and the troops’ first aid kits. Many essential oils combine well with tea tree oil and are popular in aromatherapy. Clove, lemon, myrrh, rosewood, and thyme are commonly paired with tea tree oil.
How Is Tea Tree Oil Processed?
Tea tree oil processing refers to the steps taken to produce a delivery form of the herb. In this case, tea tree oil is the primary form that supplement manufacturers utilize in making health supplement products. The leaves and external branches of Melaleuca alternifolia are steam-distilled to generate tea tree oil. The clear to light yellow oil is extracted from the aqueous distillate after it has been condensed. Oil yields are typically 1% to 2% of the wet plant material. Alternative extraction technologies, such as microwave technology, have been considered, but none have been used commercially.
What Are The Supplement Forms Of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil supplements are widely used because of their known health benefits and vary depending on user preference. The following are the different supplement forms of tea tree oil.
1. Tea Tree Oil Extract
Tea tree oil extracts are made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree and are used to manufacture dietary supplements and herbal medicines. They are primarily utilized for aromatherapy, skincare, and other benefits. Its purest form is an undiluted essential oil with a 100% concentration.
Why Is Tea Tree Oil Extract Useful?
Tea Tree Oil extract is helpful because its active component is incorporated in various products. It’s beneficial for its antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory characteristics, and there are a variety of ways to use it as a natural therapy for skin, hair, and nails.
2. Tea Tree Supplement
While tea tree supplements are most commonly used for skincare, they can also be used for other purposes. For example, tea tree oil has been shown to have antifungal and antibacterial properties and can be used to treat minor cuts and scrapes. It can also be used as a natural air freshener or added to laundry detergent to boost freshness.
3. Tea Tree Powder
Tea tree powder is a finely ground powder made from the tea tree’s chemically unprocessed leaves that contain no additives. Using tea tree powder absorbs and inhibits the growth of microorganisms that cause body odor. Due to a lack of protective microflora, skin subjected to imbalances due to overzealous deodorizing agents can be vulnerable to yeast infections. Tea tree powder is especially effective against yeasts, gently deodorizing the skin and allowing microorganisms to regenerate. Popular brands of tea tree powder are Aura Cacia, Thursday Plantation, and Neal’s Yard.
What Is The Etymology Of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil goes by several names, such as “ti tree oil” and “melaleuca oil” and the former is a Maori and Samoan term for plants in the Cordyline genus. The phrase “melaleuca oil” can be confusing because various chemically separate oils are distilled from other Melaleuca species, such as cajuput oil from Melaleuca cajuputi and niaouli oil of Melaleuca quinquenervia. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has recognized tea tree oil as the official term.
What Place Does Tea Tree Oil Have In Society And Culture?
The commercial tea tree oil business emerged after Penfold initially documented the oil’s medical benefits in the 1920s as part of a more extensive inquiry into Australian essential oils with economic potential. Today, tea tree oil is produced in large quantities in Australia, leading the world in research and development. This sector has matured to the point where an association for tea tree oil production, known as the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association Ltd. (ATTIA), has been formed. Cosmetics, medicines, aromatherapy, and veterinary products are all value-added products of tea tree oil. Due to its bioactivity, this oil is sold either directly or after being transformed into antiseptic or antibacterial products. Soaps, toothpaste, creams, mouthwashes, lip balms, lotions, acne creams, and other cosmetics fall under this category.
Tea tree oil and its constituents have been used in agriculture to prevent food deterioration and insecticides. According to several studies, tea tree oil is an effective organic fungicide, insecticide, and herbicide insecticide that can be utilized in the framework of “Green Technology,” according to several studies. This oil was discovered to inhibit the mycelial growth of 15 post-harvest fungi. The oil was applied both directly and as a vapor. The latter application suggested its use as a fumigant for stored crops. Tea tree oil has grown in popularity and is now used in the pharmaceutical, food, agriculture, and cosmetic industries worldwide. It has been found to have tremendous potential as a natural microbicide in the food and agriculture industries.
What Are The Tea Tree Oil Parts?
Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the Australian tea tree through steaming. It’s sold as oil and is found in various over-the-counter topical remedies and skincare products, such as shampoos, soaps, and moisturizers.
What Is The History Of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil has a long history in Australia, dating back to aboriginal times. Melaleuca alternifolia, sometimes known as the tea tree, is native to Queensland and New South Wales. Captain James Cook, a British explorer, noted that the indigenous people utilized the leaves to prepare nutmeg-scented tea. Captain Cook saw this custom and coined the term “tea tree.” Aboriginals crushed the leaves and extracted the oil, which they inhaled to treat colds and coughs, used to make tea, and applied to the skin for healing. Sailors also used the leaves to make beer.
What Are The Other Plants That Are Called Tea Tree Oil From Time To Time?
Certain plants are mistaken for tea tree oil because of their flowers, leaves, general appearance, and similar advantages. Here are some herbs that are called tea tree oil from time to time:
- Melaleuca cajuputi: Cajeputi oil, or tea tree oil, is made from the leaves of this plant and used in medical ointments for its antibacterial properties. Burmese people utilize it to treat gout, and it is used as a pain reliever to treat rheumatism and joint aches in Southeast Asia.
- Melaleuca bracteata: Bracteata is also known as the black tea tree, mock olive, or river tea tree and is endemic to northern Australia. It is a valuable tree in cultivation because of its compact shape, numerous blossoms, and ability to grow anywhere. “Revolution Gold,” “Revolution Green,” and a dwarf variant called “Golden Gem” are among the garden varieties that have been developed. It’s been utilized in Northern Territory smoking medication and to make various domestic products.
- Melaleuca quinquenervia: Melaleuca quinquenervia is an Australian native that belongs to the myrtle family and has been used by Australia’s Aboriginal people for hundreds of years. This species, also known as Niaouli, is related to the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and shares many characteristics and benefits. Melaleuca quinquinervia essential oil, like tea tree essential oil, is known for its cleansing characteristics and can be used on the skin, hair, and nails.
- Melaleuca leucadendra: Also known as long-leaved paperbark, leucadendra bark and leaves are employed in traditional medicine as tranquilizers, sedatives, evil-dispellers, and pain relievers. In vitro antibacterial profiling of Melaleuca leucadendra with ethanol extract found inhibitory action against Microsporum canis, Staphylococcus aureus, Plasmodium falciparum, Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma brucei, and Leishmania infantum in leucadendra cultivated in Cuba.
- Melaleuca viridiflora: Melaleuca viridiflora, often known as broad-leaved paperbark, is a plant native to monsoonal parts of northern Australia and the woods, swamps, and streams of New Guinea. Niaouli oil is derived from the Melaleuca viridiflora’s leaves and is used to create medicines. Tea tree oil and cajeput oil, both derived from Melaleuca plants, should not be confused with niaouli oil.
- Melaleuca acacioides: This plant is native to the northern parts of the Northern Territory, the Cape York Peninsula, and New Guinea and is known as coastal paperbark and lunyamad by the Bardi people. Melaleuca acacioides leaves were utilized as a flavoring in Aboriginal cuisine. The essential oils collected from the leaves of this species contain selinenes, which are a significant component of celery seed oil.
- Melaleuca alsophila: This plant is indigenous to the north of Western Australia and is known as saltwater paperbark. The bark can be used to repel mosquitos, and an infusion of the leaves can be used to treat cold symptoms.
- Melaleuca argentea: The silver cajuput, also known as silver-leaved paperbark or mardderr in the Kunwinjku language, is endemic to northern Australia. This tree is excellent for tropical and subtropical climates and is commonly used as an ornamental tree in Brisbane.
Are Tea Tree Oil Supplements Approved By The Authorities?
No, the Food and Drug Administration regulates health supplements like tea tree oil as dietary supplements, not as drugs. That means these supplements don’t need prior approval from the FDA to be sold. However, once they are on the market, the FDA starts exercising its safety monitoring function. They review supplement labels and promotional materials as its resources allow and monitor safety complaints about the product. The supplement manufacturer is required to report any of these complaints to the FDA within 15 days of receiving them.
Is Tea Tree Oil An Antiseptic?
According to laboratory research, tea tree oil is an antiseptic due to its broad-spectrum antibacterial potent against bacteria, fungi, and some viruses. It’s been proven to be just as efficient against antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA as it is against non-resistant variants.
Can You Take Tea Tree Oil At Night?
No, as proven by animal research and human poisoning incidents, tea tree oil can be harmful if consumed. According to the book Tea Tree: The Genus Melaleuca by Michael Russel, tea tree oil has a 50% fatal dose of 1.9 to 2.6 ml/kg in a rat model. Oral poisoning cases have been observed in both toddlers and adults, but patients responded well to supportive care in all instances and recovered without complications. No human deaths have been linked to tea tree oil in the literature.
Can You Take Tea Tree Oil After A Meal?
No, tea tree oil can be harmful if consumed after a meal.
Can You Take Tea Tree Oil Every Day?
No, tea tree oil can be harmful if consumed every day.
Can A Child Take Tea Tree Oil?
No, tea tree oil can be harmful if consumed by children.
Can Your Pet Consume Tea Tree Oil?
It depends. Tea tree oil comes in various quantities, and large doses should never be administered to pets. It only takes 10-20 ml of 100% oil to cause poisoning and death in both dogs and cats. If used according to labeled guidelines, products containing less than 1% to 2% of tea tree oil concentrations are typically regarded as non-toxic. Clinical indicators are high temperatures, weakness, intoxication, inability to walk, tremors, unconsciousness, elevated liver enzymes, and even death.
Which Tree Produces The Tea Tree Oil?
The tea tree plant produces the extract utilized as an ingredient in topical applications and aromatherapy. It is a tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. It has a bushy crown and pale, papery bark that grows to about 20 feet (7m). The leaves are alternately oriented, occasionally dispersed, or whorled. It thrives in the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 8 or above.
What Are The Top Scientific Research Topics For Tea Tree Oil?
Studies have shown the positive effects tea tree oil has on human health. Still, there are valid questions that require more investigation. Based on the PubMed website, here are the top current scientific research topics for tea tree oil.
- Contact Dermatitis
- Demodex blepharitis
- Protozoan and helminthic infections
Can You Put Tea Tree Oil Directly On Your Skin?
Yes, you can put tea tree oil directly on your skin, provided it is correctly diluted. Some people, however, may experience an allergic reaction or skin irritation. Therefore, you should perform a patch test on a tiny area of your skin before applying diluted tea tree oil to your face,
Does Tea Tree Oil Remove Dark Spots?
No, tea tree oil does not remove dark spots, but it helps prevent them from occurring. Tea tree oil also helps treat and prevent pimples, which can leave behind patches of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or dark spots. PIH is more common in Asian skin types.
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