Australia’s indigenous peoples have long prized the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree, for its ability to promote skin health.** These Aborigines would crush the leaves of the evergreen tea tree in order to extract its scented oil for a diverse range of therapeutic applications. When Captain Cook and his sailors reached Australia in the mid-18th century, they were introduced to the tree, using its leaves to brew a fragrant, nutmeg-scented tea. The explorers gave Melaleuca the name “tea tree,” though it is unrelated to Camellia plant species that is normally used to make tea.
Today, tree tea oil, a volatile essential oil, is known around the world for its immune and skin-supportive properties.** The oil is steam-distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca tree. The Melaleuca species grows only in Australia and the county exports more than 700 tons of tea tree oil each year.
Scientific studies support many of the traditional Aboriginal uses for the oil, including applications designed to promote clear, healthy skin and support their immune systems.** Research suggests that the oil contains rich concentrations of compounds called terpen hydrocarbons; these plant compounds have been found to effectively cleanse the skin when applied topically.** The oil has also been found to promote clear, healthy fingernails and toenails.**
Melaleuca oil’s health-supportive properties make it an effective skin serum.** Melaleuca oil has also been used to promote a healthy scalp, especially when combined with lavender oil.** The oil has become a popular ingredient in a diverse range of natural health and beauty products. Some of the most popular tea tree oil products include:
Soap: Soap containing tea tree oil helps maintain clear skin and may also help reduce body odor, thanks to the oil's cleansing properties.**
Toothpaste: When added to toothpaste, the terpenoids in tea tree oil can help to decrease halitosis.** The oil’s health-supportive properties also help to support healthy gums and tongue.**
Dental Floss: Tea tree oil on dental floss delivers powerful immune-supportive agents to the gums, and is especially helpful in helping maintain fresh breath.** The oil also helps reduce gum redness and volatile sulfur compounds that cause halitosis.**
Moisturizing Lotion: When applied topically in moisturizing lotion, tea tree oil helps promote clear and healthy skin.** It is considered to be less harsh on the skin than many synthetic chemical lotions. The oil’s beneficial properties also help to maintain clear, supple, smooth and healthy skin.**
Vaginal Suppositories: Studies indicate that tea tree oil’s wellness-supporting compounds support a healthy vaginal environment.** The oil also controls the overgrowth of fungi that can lead to yeast infections.**
Essential Oil: Tea tree essential oil has a range of uses. A few drops can be added to hair care products to control dandruff, to lotions to promote clear skin, and to oral care products to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Oil can be used for aromatherapy in an oil burner, diffuser, vaporizer or humidifier or to promote healthy respiration.**
Tea Tree Oil Products
Tea tree oil supplements are frequently available as an essential oil and in creams, lotions, gels, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, floss, and suppositories for topical use.
Tea Tree Oil Directions for Use
Tea tree oil products supply variable amounts of the herb’s active components, so there is no set dosage. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting supplementation.**