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Tea Tree Oil

July 15, 2010

Tags: herbs, abrasion, absorption, acne, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anxiety, aromatherapy, athlete's foot, Australia, bacteria, blackheads, burns, Candida, chickenpox, cineol(e), cold sore, comedones, dandruff, deodorant, eczema, estrogenic effect, exhaustion, First Aid kit, fungi, gingivitis, hang nail, hearing loss, hemorrhoids - external, herpes, insect bite, insect repellent, itch, jock itch, lice, Malassezia furfur, Melaleuca alternifolia, mites, migraine, Mother Nature, mouthwash, mucosa, myrtle family, odor - feet, pimples, peridontitis, Pityrosporum ovale, ringworm, scabies, shingles, skin conditions, skin infection, sore throat, soul balm, staph, Staphylococcus aureus, sunburn, tea oil, tea tree oil, Tea Tree Oil, toe nail fungus, toothpaste, toxicity, trauma - psychological, vaginal candidiasis, virus, warts, whiteheads

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a drug that would work against bacteria, viruses, and fungi?

We have that drug – brought to us by Mother Nature: Tea tree oil.

The oil from the leaves of the small Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia of the myrtle family provides us with an essential oil that works against all kinds of germs. Don’t confuse it with “tea oil” which comes in big bottles and is used for cooking purposes. Unfortunately, only on the outside. Taken internally, it is rather toxic and can be fatal.

But for all kinds of skin conditions, it is perfect. Nearly perfect – because, rarely, some people develop allergies and then should not use tea tree oil any longer. Usually tea tree oil does not irritate the skin. But if you experience increased redness after application, the possibility of an allergy needs to be considered; another possibility would be a worsening infection.

The offending ingredient that leads to allergies is cineol(e). A good (and rather expensive) tea tree oil contains five or less percent of cineol; cheaper varieties can have up to sixty percent. If a brand does not list the cineol content, it should not be trusted.

Tea tree oil belongs in every First Aid kit as an all-round antiseptic. Use it mostly as iodine was used in the past. It acts anti-inflammatory and healing on the skin. In minute doses, it is said to stimulate the immune system – but this is definitely not a substance I would ingest. Keep it away from children and pets!

Don’t use on the mucosa of your private parts or in your eyes! Tea tree oil has some estrogenic effects, so don’t use it on your breasts. In males, especially boys: Don’t overuse it – because of its estrogen effect! – In rare cases, it can aggravate eczema. There is one report of hearing loss after application of tea tree oil in the ear; don’t try this!

• Bacteria: Infected hang nails, pimples, abrasions, staphylococcus aureus (even against resistant staph). If the area is not too large. In large wounds there is the danger of absorption and internal toxicity. In most skin conditions, it is applied several times per day with a Q-tip.
• In acne it helps to add five drops onto a moist face cloth. Rub the skin gently. Don’t get it into your eyes (and eliminating all dairy products might even do more against acne than tea tree oil).
• Viruses: Cold sores, external herpes blisters, chickenpox, shingles.
• Fungi: Athlete’s foot (applied twice a day, it even kills toe nail fungus!), jock itch, ringworm.
• Lice: Rub scalp with tea tree oil.
• Mites (scabies): Apply to affected areas.
• Comedones (blackheads): Dab on black dot several times until it disappears. Works also on whiteheads.
• Dandruff (Pityrosporum ovale, Malassezia furfur): Add a few drops to your shampoo.
• Mild burns and sunburns: It relieves the pain.
• Sore throat: One drop tea tree oil to one glass of water. Gargle – but don’t swallow.
• Insect bites: a drop takes a way the itch and starts the healing process.
• Tea tree oil also repels insects. Unfortunately, it is rather expensive for that purpose.
• Itches: Try tea tree oil on minor itches. For severe and prolonged itches, you better see your physician.
• Sweaty, smelly feet: Apply a few drops of tea tree oil after washing with soap and rinsing. Again: A change in diet (no dairy, sugar, bad fats, less meats; more vegetables) might get to the root of the problem.
• Mouthwash: One drop per glass of water helps gingivitis and peridontitis.
• Toothpaste may contain tea tree oil because of its anti-bacterial effects. You can also put one drop of tea tree oil on your regular toothpaste and brush with this.
• Tea tree oil is also used in natural deodorants.
• Hemorrhoids (external only).
• Vaginal candidiasis: Because you don’t want it too strong at that area, only use commercially available vaginal suppositories.
• Warts: Since warts are caused by virus, one can try tea tree oil – but I have never used it for that purpose and have no experience with it.
• Aromatherapy: a tiny drop goes a very long way. Tea tree oil is thought to be “soul balm,” healing psychological traumas, and helps against anxieties, increases confidence and helps when one is exhausted and discouraged. Some migraine sufferers are helped by tea tree oil in the air.

Tea tree oil was “discovered” in Australia in the nineteen twenties – probably when aborigines used it and a white man saw it. With the arrival of antibiotics especially after World War II, it was somewhat forgotten. The new interest in natural agents since the seventies has revived the tea tree oil business – which is quite extensive nowadays.
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