Originates from Australia.
The oil is obtained by steam distillation of the twigs and leaves of the Tea Tree.
Tea Trees left to grow wild can reach heights of 35 foot but those in plantations are usually kept shorter than this to make it easier to harvest them. Well managed plantations can use the same trees for up to 25 years. They are harvested every 12-18 months in the Spring or Summer when the leaves have matured, normally by mechanical means. The leaves and twigs are picked and mulched into small pieces by the same machine and then allowed to dry.
Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, cooling, fungicidal, immuno-stimulant, sudorific, vulnerary, tonic.
(For safe usage please refer to the Safety and Toxicity section below)
Tea Tree has a huge abundance of potential uses thanks to its many health giving properties. In general terms Tea Tree is used to boost the immune system and so minimise the amount time a person is ill because it is thought to enhance the body's natural defences. It can also be useful in readying the body ahead of an operation as well as improving recovery post-op.
It's used to treat dermatological conditions such as athlete's foot, psoriasis and eczema. It's effective against lice and because it attacks the Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which cause acne and boils respectively, it's commonly found in blends for these skin problems too. Scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of Tea Tree oil in these treatments and have also shown that Tea Tree disperses infectious material and debris trapped within a wound.
It's also a wonderful multi-purpose oil to keep handy at home. Because of its antibacterial action, Tea Tree works extremely well when applied to minor cuts and abrasions, stings, mosquito and other insect bites, rashes and burns including sunburn. The anti-fungal, anti-viral and strong antiseptic properties of the oil make it one of the best natural remedies available.
Tea Tree is good in massage as a treatment for sore and achy muscles and is also found in soaps, toothpastes (it attacks the bacteria that cause gingivitis and cavities), skin washing preparations and deodorants.
It's especially effective against fungal infections such as Athlete's Foot and vaginal infections and is the perfect treatment for infected toe nails. It can be helpful in the treatment of warts, verrucae and cold sores.
It can also be beneficial in hair care. Tea Tree has been shown to regulate sebum production meaning it can not only help to soothe and cure dry, flaky skin (and the dandruff that results from these issues) but can also correct overly oily hair.
It's also suggested that Tea Tree may be instrumental in the attempts to control virulent infections such as MRSA. Bugs like this one have become resistant to synthetic antibiotics as these man made substances are developed to only attack microorganisms in a specific way. Once the microorganisms have learned to thwart these attacks they pass on the information to their offspring and it becomes a never ending battle between the mutating cells and the scientists.
Tea Tree may be an answer as because it's a natural product it attacks the whole organism and so is less likely to be defeated by bacteria. There is also research being undertaken to determine the effectiveness of Tea Tree in treating skin cancers.
Before you use Tea Tree or any essential oil please ensure that you are familiar with the contradictions. You should also perform a skin patch test before application to the rest of your body to ensure no sensitisation occurs.
Tea Tree can be used neat on the skin but only in very small amounts and great care should be taken before application. If you are unsure please consult a professional aromatherapist or a doctor. Tea Tree oil should never be swallowed or taken internally.
A dab of Tea Tree on acne or a boil twice a day can help to clear up any problems - Tea Tree is a strong, natural antiseptic.
It's antiviral and anti-bacterial properties make it a preferred natural treatment for Athlete's Foot - again, one drop applied to the affected area in the morning and the evening should soon help to clear up most cases.
Try adding a drop to your shampoo to combat dandruff or head lice. Place the amount of shampoo you normally use in the palm of your hand, add a drop of Tea Tree and lather well before application. It can also help with greasy, oily and dry scalps and hair as it balances the production of sebum.
Tea Tree works very well in a vaporiser to protect from airborne viruses and bacteria. It's also worth burning or inhaling once the lurgy has set in as it helps to improve recovery times. It is also effective against sinus problems when used in this way.
This versatile oil can also be very useful around the house. You can create your own, simple natural cleaning fluid by mixing 2-3 drops of Tea Tree in 100 or 200ml of water in a bottle with a spray attachment. Make sure you shake the bottle well before each use and then spray on to surfaces and tables in the same way as you would with any other spray cleaner. This solution not only cleans but also protects thanks to the bactericidal and antiviral properties of the oil.
Used this way Tea Tree can banish mould, keep germs away from kids car seats and high chairs and, when added to salt, makes a great way to scrub clean tiles, bathtubs and sinks.
We think every house should have a bottle of Tea Tree somewhere. It has so many uses both in treatment and around the house that a house is empty without a bottle of Tea Tree!
Organic version also available.
You may find that Tea Tree blends particularly well with Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Rosewood, Rosemary and Thyme.