Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, the most widely known of the Australian essential oils, is nothing short of one of nature's true gifts. Tea tree oil should be in every household, both in the medicine chest and in the cleaning cabinet.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) as everyone knows comes from Australia. The Aborigines of the area were using it long before Europeans "discovered" it's magic.
Steam distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, tea tree oil contains approximately 100 different chemicals. Two of which are terpinen-4-ol and cineole. Higher quality oil contains 40 to 47 percent terpinen-4-ol and 2.5 percent cineole. It has an almost neutral pH.
Tea tree oil is potently anti bacterial, anti fungal, and anti viral. It also has natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It therefore can be used for just about any skin condition from cold sores to dandruff...but it can be used for so much more.
Studies have been done comparing tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne. A 5 percent tea tree oil concentration was used in comparison to the standard BP treatment. Mild to moderate acne sufferers experienced results comparable to the benzoyl peroxide with fewer side effects. Benzoyl Peroxide can be very drying and can cause redness and burning.
Athlete's foot is another malady that can be treated with tea tree oil (TTO). Homeopathic physicians usually recommend washing the infected area with TTO soap, making sure the area is thoroughly dry then applying TTO neat (neat=undiluted) to the affected area. Discontinue at any signs of sensitivity. Not for pregnant or lactating women.
TTO may be used at the first sign of an outbreak of a cold sore. Just dab TTO on with a cotton swab to the area that is "tingling". Reportedly this will keep the outbreak to a minimum and relieve the pain when the sores are full blown.
You can make your own TTO cream by mixing one to two drops of TTO to every teaspoon of a "neutral" base type of cream or lotion. Mix well. This can be used for insect stings, rashes, acne, infections, mild burns, etc. TTO has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being antiseptic.
TTO can be applied to warts (it is that antiviral property at work here). Use a cotton swab and dab it on the wart. This has even been known to work for those tenacious plantar warts.
Alright, brace yourself. The creep factor is going to go way up here.... The two words no mother wants to hear. Not ever. Head lice. Every year kids go to school with un-infested heads and sadly go home with these ugly little hitchhikers. What is really, really scary is that the little buggers (literally) are getting resistant to the chemicals we use to kill them off. I am shuddering and itching as I am writing this.
The good news is that head lice hate tea tree oil! To treat an active case of head lice take 1 ½ teaspoons TTO, 1 ½ teaspoons lavender essential oil, and 4 ounces olive oil --- mix well. Massage well all over the hair and scalp. Cover the head with a shower cap and leave in place overnight. Then carefully comb through the hair with a fine tooth lice/nit comb that you have soaked with additional TTO. Then shampoo the hair with a shampoo that you have mixed at a ratio 12-15 drops of TTO to 8 oz of shampoo. Most of this recommendation comes from Mark Stengler, ND, who also recommends blow drying the hair for five to ten minutes, as this helps destroy the eggs.
I have added TTO to our shampoo for several years and no head lice! We have a side benefit of no dandruff in site to boot!
This by no means covers all of tea tree oils marvels, but it gives you a great start. As with any essential oil, start with a mild dilution, being watchful for any sensitivity. Infants should never use TTO, and undiluted TTO should never be used by pregnant or nursing women. TTO is generally well tolerated by most, but on rare occasions an individual may have or develop sensitivity.
Enjoy the marvels of Australian Tea Tree Oil!