Tea Tree Oil…What’s All the Fuss About
We’re all familiar with the kind of natural cures and remedies our grandmothers raved about throughout our childhood. Instead of rushing to medication, this generation would often run to an all-natural cure many of us would never have considered. Sunburn? There’s aloe vera growing in the garden, bring some in and rub it on. A sore throat? Honey and lemon. Congested? Hot water steaming with a bowl of water under a tea towel. At the time, they seemed like miracle workers, pulling marvelous solutions to everyday illnesses and annoyances like fairy godmothers. Now, with some time and the wonderful gift of the Internet, you too are able to introduce yourself to a vast array of all natural healing solutions and provide some medication-free relief to friends and family members who find themselves caught off guard in the future.
If you decide to traverse down this path of natural remedies and healing options, there’s one powerful tool you need to make yourself familiar with: tea tree oil.
History of tea tree oil
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree, which first received its name sometime in the eighteenth century. During this time, sailors came across the tree on the southeast Australian coast and were captivated by the way its leaves could be used to brew tea that tasted like nutmeg. English sailors at the time were far away from their English customs, which involved regular tea drinking, so finding a natural source of tea in the Australian habitat was a great and exciting moment for them.
In fact, we have a lot to thank Australia for when it comes to the humble tea tree oil. The indigenous people of Australia have an ancient legend around the Melaleuca Alternofolia, which has been passed down through generations for thousands of years. Their culture holds strong beliefs around the spirit world, and in ancient Australia, their custom was to believe that a terrible illness or death was caused by spirits, or by people who were engaging in the use of dark magic. The spiritual doctors of the tribes passed their own tribe secrets down from generation to generation. However, it was the women of the tribe who would do much of the gathering and would bring home tea tree leaves. These leaves would then be mashed and turned into a medicine that was used in a range of ways for the tribe’s needs.
One of these early uses was to ease cough and cold symptoms. The branches of the tea tree would be placed over a fire so patients could inhale the vapors that resulted. Coughs and colds were also treated by using crushed tea tree leaves and holding them under the infected person’s nose. Just in the same way tea tree oil helps to ease congestion in the modern day, this was a powerful technique in ancient times to provide pain relief and help to ease with cold and flu symptoms, restoring health and vitality. The women of the indigenous tribes also discovered the way crushed tea tree leaves could be soaked in water before being applied to ailments of the skin, or inflamed and sore throats.
When the European settlers arrived, not only did they come across the tea tree for themselves and marvel at its ability to brew a lovely cup, but they also observed the way the native Australian people would bind tea tree leaves on wounds or infections. This would cause the infection to be minimized and speed up the rate at which the wound healed. From the outside, this early medicine may seem basic or primitive, but the ancient tribes and their descendants were powerfully equipped with nature’s tools to heal and cure a wide range of maladies, illnesses, and ailments.
Caption Cook and his crews also used the tea brewed from tea tree leaves to cure scurvy. Unfortunately, after these early uses by the European settlers, tea tree leaves were soon forgotten in the bustle as they settled into a new country.
It was a number of years until, in 1923, Australian chemist Arthur Penfold discovered the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil. He was amazed to find its antiseptic abilities made it 12 times more effective than the treatment technique of the time, which was carbolic acid. He was amazed to discover this, and this new information led to scientific tests that took place in both Sydney and London. The medical and scientific journals of the time were soon filled with reports on tea tree oil’s amazing abilities and it was widely concluded that tea tree made a wonderful antiseptic. The timing of this discovery was not unimportant, as World War II was less than 20 years from the beginning. During this war, Australian soldiers received this oil as part of their standard issue in first aid kits, because of its powerful healing properties that could provide life-saving antiseptic treatment in the middle of unsanitized conditions.
The 1970s and 1980s brought a new lease on life for the humble tea tree oil, as mechanization allowed for wide scale production for the first time in its history. Commercial plantations were set up which allowed for the product to be made at a faster and more efficient rate of production.
Even with all of the amazing medical leaps and bounds we’ve seen in these decades, tea tree oil is still in wide use in the modern day and age. Now, you’ll find tea tree oil is a common sight on most household medicine shelves, bringing with it a wide range of medical treatment abilities, as well as being able to serve some secondary services. It’s also a pretty powerful cleaning agent!
Common uses for tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is used in a wide and varied range of manners. Here are some of its common, everyday applications…
As an acne killer
Tea tree oil is one of the most powerful natural acne treatments on the market. Scientific studies have proven its effectiveness on a range of acne diagnoses, ranging from mild to moderate. The way tea tree oil works to remove acne is by reducing the number of both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions. Although tea tree oil can be a slower acne killer than highly chemical products, it has many fewer side effects and is far better in the long run for your skin and well-being.
There are mixed opinions on whether to dilute the tea tree oil or use it in its natural straight form. Different skin types will respond to different levels of treatment, so if you opt to use tea tree oil to treat your own acne, begin with a bigger dilution, test its effectiveness and reduce the dilution until it’s straight if this proves effective for you.
To dilute tea tree oil for acne application, mix 3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of water, or alternatively, a tablespoon of aloe vera gel, which also brings with it the added benefit of soothing properties. Aloe vera gel is also a better alternative if your skin has proven itself more sensitive in the past.
It’s important to begin by washing your face with a cleanser and drying it gently before applying the tea tree oil treatment. Use a cotton ball with the solution placed on it and carefully apply a full layer to your skin. Begin by repeating this in the morning and at night time, every day, for as long as you need before the acne is reduced. If you find your skin is coping well and there’s no negative reaction to the tea tree oil, up the dosage of tea tree oil to make it steadily stronger day by day.
As a treatment for cuts
Some cuts are deceiving – whilst they may look and feel no more harmful than a paper cut, it’s really the chance for infection during the healing process that poses the biggest risk to the person with the injury. Many people have found themselves deceived by a simple cut and watched in confusion as the infection has taken root and caused a far bigger health problem than the simple cut itself. To avoid letting a cut get infected and the consequent results, make sure you act swiftly to apply antiseptic as soon as the cut has slowed in any bleeding. This antiseptic will clean and neutralize the area before you can then bandage it appropriately for healing to take place.
Tea tree oil, with its powerful antiseptic properties, is a great natural tool to have on hand when these everyday cuts and grazes occur. You can easily create a simple treatment in mere moments.
Mix together a couple of drops of tea tree oil with around a quarter of a teaspoon of coconut oil. You don’t need the coconut oil if you’ve already had tea tree oil applied to your skin with no adverse reaction, but if this is your first time using the oil, start gently by using this coconut oil as a cutter, or inversely, you can also use water as a cutter.
Once you’ve got the mixture that’s going to work best for you, apply it to the area that’s been cut before covering it with a Band-Aid. Make sure not to put the Band-Aid on too tight, as oxygen is also required for cuts in order for them to properly heal without cutting off necessary supplies to the skin for this to take place.
As a treatment for sunburn
We’ve all been guilty of spending too long having fun in the sun without considering the consequences. If you’ve overstayed your welcome at the beach or just out in the sunshine, and are bearing the red marks as a result, tea tree oil can once again be the savior you need in your hour of desperation. Whilst sunburn may not seem too serious, it can be extremely painful and takes days to recover properly. The skin is also at risk of suffering long-term damage so requires care and attention while it’s healing from this overheating scenario.
A great treatment for sunburn can be made by pulling out some ingredients that will already be sitting in your pantry. Mix together one part tea tree oil to 8 parts of one of these three – olive oil, coconut oil or aloe vera (hopefully your grandmother’s ensured you’ve got an offshoot of her plant growing in your garden!). Mix the tea tree oil in with your oil of choice and apply the treatment to the sunburnt areas of skin. You’ll notice immediately how soothing the treatment is, providing relief from pain to your skin. Not only will this mixture provide immediate relief, but it can also stop blistering and peeling, which helps your skin to remain healthy and intact after your fun in the sun turned into a red hot mess.
As a treatment for toenail fungus
Nobody wants to admit it when they’ve got fungus growing on their bodies, but toenail fungus is a common ailment that affects many people on a regular basis. It’s easily caused as the result of trapped moisture, as fungus thrives in warm conditions. People who are constantly in water, such as people who swim often, or people who sweat often find themselves more prone to fungus growing on their toenails and fingernails.
This fungus will first appear as a white or yellow spot that resides beneath the tip of your nail. Infections are established when the fungi have appeared and as a result, nails can both thicken and become decolorized. Whilst this does not cause large-scale pain, it can lead to constant pain, and in extreme situations, people may find their ability to use that hand or foot is lessened.
If toenail fungus isn’t treated properly, the nail could crack or split, or in extreme cases, fall off entirely. However, never fear – toenail fungus is easily curable with a minimal cost solution. Our mighty friend, the tea tree oil, is to the rescue once more, ensuring you’ll keep all ten fingernails and all ten toenails without fail.
If you find yourself prone to these kinds of infections, tea tree oil can be applied regularly as a treatment. It’s been proven as a cure for fungal infections in the nail regions and is able to remove these fungal growths entirely. Not only this but as an added bonus, the appearance of nails improves drastically in the process.
If you decide to use tea tree oil on your nails, there are some steps you need to take in preparation.
Firstly, remove all dead nails with a nail clipper. Then use a nail file to file down the infected nails, after which, you need to clean your finger or toenails with soap in order to remove the dust or dirt that could remain from the filing process. Once you’ve completed this process, you’re ready to apply the tea tree oil.
Pour a few drops of it onto the infected nail, or alternatively, you can use a cotton ball. Apply this treatment to the nails that are affected by pressing firmly so you can see the tea tree oil coming onto the nail. Use a toothbrush to scrub the nail, ensuring that the oil fully penetrates down.
It’s crucial to let the oil dry completely before putting shoes back on, as again, any wet and warm environments only encourage further fungal growths.
Another option you have is to soak your feet in a tea tree oil solution for 15 or so minutes. Create this solution by mixing 4-5 drops of tea tree oil into water. This treatment is most effective when it’s done first thing in the morning or later on in the evening.
If you’re dedicated to removing toenail fungus with the use of tea tree oil, you must repeat this application process at a minimum of twice daily. In the meantime, keep up your filing at least once a week to keep your nails healthy and to aid in the healing process from the fungus infection.
As a treatment for cold sores
Cold sores are a common ailment affecting many in our population on a regular basis. Not only are they painful, but they’re also highly inconvenient, popping up when people least expect them. Cold sores are a result of an infection of oral herpes, which 80% of the population is diagnosed with. There are medicinal treatments for cold sores, but not only are they full of chemicals, they’re also not highly effective in removing cold sores and providing pain relief in the process.
Tea tree oil once again comes in to assist by providing a natural healing solution. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties make it the perfect treatment for this annoying and painful problem.
If you have a cold sore you’d like to treat with tea tree oil, apply it to the infected area with the use of a cotton swab from the first moment you experience the telling warning signs of a tingling or itching feeling. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to dilute the tea tree oil with half tea tree oil, half water.
Keep up the application of tea tree oil to the outbreak site multiple times in the course of the day. It’s also crucial to remember to apply it before you go to bed for the evening, as much of the work our body does takes place while we’re sleeping for roughly eight hours out of every 24. By applying tea tree oil in this regular manner, you can effectively reduce not only the duration of time the cold sore will be present, but also how severe it is in the way it presents and affects you.
Your cold sore will go through different stages as it heals. It’ll form a crusty material as it ulcerates, but you can remove this by rubbing it with a washcloth. BY reapplying tea tree oil right after doing so, you’ll be able to help the area to dry up more quickly than it would have if you had not applied the oil.
There are some things to keep in mind when using tea tree oil on the mouth in any form. Firstly, it can be drying, so it’s important to apply lip balm to your lips to keep them healthy during the course of the treatment. However, don’t apply lip balm to the outbreak area, as this needs time to dry for the infection to be reduced and for the cold sore to disappear.
If you find yourself prone to regular cold sore infections, using a lip balm that is infused with tea tree oil on a regular basis can help you to avoid outbreaks that would come in the future. You should also take Vitamin C and Lysine tablets on a regular basis to help minimize your risk of developing cold sores and having another episode.
As a treatment for warts
Nobody likes it when a wart appears out of nowhere on their body. They’re insightful, painful, and can get in the way of our normal daily functions, and always appear with no warning. There’s a wide range of medical treatments for warts on the market that are bought by a willing crowd desperate to see their warts reduce and disappear as soon and as effectively as possible. However, they often forget about the power of natural treatments. Anybody who finds themselves afflicted with a wart, whether as a one-off case or on an ongoing basis, should seriously consider the application of tea tree oil as a way to minimize their wart drama and restore their skin to a blemish-free state.
Plantar warts occur on the feet, which can cause pain as they’re walked on daily. If you have warts in this region, the application of tea tree oil directly to the wart can help to reduce it and even send it away for good. It’s important that you do not dilute the oil when applying it to feet, as this region of the body has skin that is thicker than anywhere else, and as a result is far less sensitive.
If you have warts pop up on other parts of your body, it’s crucial that you test your body’s sensitivity to tea tree oil before going ahead and applying it directly without dilution. Those with sensitive skin can use water, aloe vera gel or another oil to dilute the tea tree oil for the first few applications, testing the body’s reactions for any sensitivity. However, the more concentrated the tea tree oil is, the more powerful the application will be, so if you find your skin is responding with no irritation, continue to increase the strength of the tea tree oil against the diluting agent in order to see faster results in the treatment of the wart.
By using the oil at night, as well as with constant application throughout the day, you’ll allow the oil to penetrate into the skin at a much deeper and more effective level. As warts are caused by viruses, getting the oil to penetrate to this level will cause the virus to be eliminated faster, leading to a faster removal of the wart that results from it.
You can apply this effectively at night by dipping gauze into the tea tree oil solution and attaching it to the wart. Use something like a Band-Aid to keep the gauze attached to the wart overnight. If you keep doing this on a nightly basis, you’ll soon see the warts have been removed far quicker than you could have imagined was possible. Such powerful results, and all without any harsh chemicals that could cause detrimental pain and aggravation to your precious skin!
Some people also suffer from genital warts, which can be difficult to treat and uncomfortable to discuss given their position on the body. However, tea tree oil is just as effective a treatment for warts in this region as it is for warts anywhere else on the skin. Be careful to use a dilution measurement that your body has already responded positively to, as the skin in these areas is sensitive and you want to ensure no pain is caused. Again, use a gauze bandage dipped in tea tree oil to apply to the warts in the genital region. Leave this on every night and repeat this nightly until the warts have disappeared entirely.
Other uses for tea tree oil
You can see by now the wide-reaching effect of tea tree oil and its ability to be useful to the body in a manner of different ways. However, it’s also useful to have around the house for a variety of other uses!
The removal of dandruff – by mixing 10 drops of tea tree oil into an 8 oz. bottle of shampoo, this oil can effectively treat and refresh your scalp, minimizing dandruff and fighting off bacteria.
In laundry – by mixing 3 drops of tea tree oil with your normal laundry detergent, you can enjoy the benefits of having bad doors removed that are caused by the accumulation of microbial which reside in your washing machine.
As an air purifier – if you’ve got an oil diffuser on hand, use a few drops of tea tree oil in it to deodorize and disinfect the air in an all-natural manner. This aromatherapy has also been proven to reduce anxiety levels and encourage a more effective sleep.
As a multipurpose cleaning spray – by mixing tea tree oil with hot water and white vinegar, you can create an all-natural general disinfectant that can be used to kill germs on surfaces and in areas all over your home. Just be careful not to use it on either granite or marble, as its acidic nature will cause damage to the stone.
To remove ticks
whilst this is not backed up by scientific evidence, many people are convinced that ticks can be removed by applying a few drops of tea tree oil.
To kill lice – many mothers are familiar with the annoyance that comes with having to comb lice out of their children’s hair, but thankfully, tea tree oil can help to win that battle as well. There are many recipes online for concoctions that will help to prevent lice from even infecting the scalp in the first place.
To remove fleas
have you got a dog or a cat? Chances are, fleas will infect their sleeping area at one point or another. By adding a few drops of tea tree oil to their bed, fleas will be repulsed, and you’ll end up with a happier pet that hasn’t got hundreds of tiny critters crawling across their skin on a regular basis.
To relieve earaches – by mixing a drop of tea tree oil with a drop of olive oil, you can create a powerful mixture for treating earaches. Just apply this mixture into your ear, where you’ll feel it start to filter through and assist in clearing the ear up and restoring full functionality.
To freshen carpet – if your carpet is starting to smell musty, a few drops can restore a fresh smell in mere moments. This is a much cheaper solution than many of the carpet cleaning products you’ll find on sale in stores.
To kill mold – struggling to remove mold from your home? Mix tea tree oil with apple cider vinegar and apply it to the mold-infected area, then watch in amazement as the mold disappears. Forget all the time you’ve previously spent scrubbing and let tea tree oil do the job for you.
Tea tree oil is a powerful natural product that provides a number of medicinal and other benefits. Keep a bottle in your home for whatever occasion may arise where it’ll come in handy, and surprise yourself by making a list of the creative uses you found for it. At just a few dollars, and available in health stores and supermarkets everywhere, you’ll be singing its praises before you know it!