Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Other names: Australian tea tree oil, melaleuca oil
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is made by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. It got its name because the leaves were used as a substitute for tea leaves. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the affected area.
What are the health benefits of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil has antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. The chemical compound terpinen-4-ol is believed to be responsible for most of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial strength. With these properties, tea tree oil is used to treat acne, dandruff, fungal infections, athlete’s foot, bee stings, insect bites, vaginal yeast infections, and canker sores.
What are the guidelines for using Tea Tree Oil?
Look for 100% pure tea tree oil and apply a small amount when first using tea tree oil. Occasionally people have allergic reactions to tea tree oil that cause blisters or rashes. Stop using the oil if you notice blisters or increased redness and irritation. Tea tree oil may be used on cuts and minor wounds and as a gargle for sore throats. For these ailments use only tea tree oil that has been mixed with water. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of tea tree oil to one cup of water. This is a 10% solution and the appropriate amount for cuts and for use as a gargle for a sore throat. Tea tree oil is easy to find as a pure essential oil. It can also be found in creams, ointments, lotions, toothpaste, soaps, and shampoos.
Are there any precautions for taking Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil should not be taken internally, even in small quantities. It can cause impaired immune function, diarrhea, and excessive drowsiness, sleepiness, confusion, and even coma.
Where can I find Tea Tree Oil?
Look for tea tree oil in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medical practitioners.
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