We keep a big bottle, and a few little bottles, of tea tree oil handy for many uses, mainly as a tick repellant and anti-fungal.
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How to use tea tree oil
First, what is tea tree oil, anyway?
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, comes from the leaves of the tea tree. The tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia) is an evergreen shrub native to Australia, and is part of the myrtle family. The oil is commonly used as a topical ointment.
Is there any evidence that it works?
Apart from several thousand personal testimonials across the globe, there are also clinical studies that show tea tree oil is an effective antiseptic. Used on the skin to kill germs, it has been shown to be effective on bacteria that’s resistant to regular antibiotics. Lab results show it is effective for treating scabies (skin mites) and some types of fungus. Tea tree oil is toxic if swallowed, and is not recommended for treating mouth infections.
A little history:
The following information was found on cancer.org, the American Cancer Society Website
The aborigines of Australia were the first to discover the healing properties of tea tree oil thousands of years ago. They treated cuts, burns, and skin infections by crushing the leaves of the tree and applying them to cuts and injuries. In the 1770s, the British explorer Captain Cook observed the native Australians brewing tea from the leaves. He then brewed tea of his own to give to his crew to prevent scurvy. He coined the name tea tree.
In the 1920s, Australian physicians began to use the oil to clean wounds and prevent infections after surgery. They believed it to be more effective than carbolic acid, the antiseptic most used at that time. Average Australians then began to use the oil as a household remedy for skin conditions and fungus infections. During World War II, tea tree oil was included in the first-aid kits given to all Australian soldiers and sailors.
After the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics in the late 1940s, tea tree oil went out of favor as an antiseptic until the 1980s, when it was discovered that some bacteria were resistant to certain antibiotics, such as methicillin and vancomycin. Today, there is renewed interest in tea tree oil as an alternative to these antibiotics for skin infections.
What is the best way to apply tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil can really sting, especially if there is an infection that has made the skin raw. For nail fungus, you can try it undiluted, but don’t if the skin is tender, raw or broken. Instead, dilute 100% pure tea tree oil in coconut oil, or another carrier oil such as almond, grape seed or olive.
When my kids were babies, we battled diaper rash with tea tree oil. I had taken my son to the doctor for a rash that was creeping up his body. We were prescribed a popular, topical, anti fungal ointment. I tried for several days and as the rash got further up his chest I gave up on that ointment, and grabbed a bottle of tea tree oil. At the time I didn’t know I should dilute it, and I applied a few drops directly on his tender skin. It didn’t bother him on his chest or legs, but stung his little bottom, which was more raw from the infection. That rash was completely gone within 24 hours! Now, if I have to apply tea tree or any other essential oil to my kids’ skin, I combine it with coconut oil. I just use a couple of drops of essential oil, to about a teaspoon of carrier oil.
Ladies, believe it or not, tea tree works so well for fungal/yeast infections, you can find tea tree suppositories! And they work, in my opinion, better than any OTC treatment. And if you prefer to treat things holistically, this is a great option.
Add a few drops to shampoo to help prevent or treat lice.
What can Tea Tree Oil be used to treat?
- Scabies (itch mites / skin mites)
- insect bites
- infections of the mouth (use caution, do NOT swallow)
- onychomycosis (nail fungus)
- athlete’s foot
- cuts and abrasions
- recurrent herpes labialis
- gargle for sore throat (use carrier oil, do NOT swallow)
- ear infections
- toothache (apply with q-tip, do NOT swallow)
- vaginal yeast infections
- diaper rash
- tick removal (apply to skin at the bite, and the tick will usually start to detach)
- add to homemade deodorant to help keep armpits fresh
- relieve bronchial congestion (add a few drops to a hot bath)
- general cleaning
Where to buy tea tree oil
My personal favorite brand of oil is Florhana, sold at TropicalTraditions.com Their oils are more potent than cheaper brands, but without the enormous price tag of other popular high quality oils. All the FloriHana oils are certified organic (the certifications are posted on the site) and cold steam distilled. Beware of heat distilled essential oils, as heat destroys the volatile and delicate essential compounds, and renders them far less effective.
To my knowledge, the FDA has not reviewed this information. Even though there are clinical studies, I need to post this disclaimer: information on this post, and the entire website, is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prevent disease. I am not a medical professional. I am a Mom who chooses to live holistically, and treat illness naturally. I do so with caution, and research as much as I am able. When I have questions, I contact my Naturopath.