Tea tree oil has many awsome uses. "In one study it inhibited 11 different bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (which infects wounds), Esherichia coli (a dangerous pathogen in wounds) and staphylococcus (which causes boils and abscesses)."

The leaves of the tree can be used to make therapeutic tea or can be simply chewed on. The vapors can be used against colds. The oil can also be used on mucous membranes against sore throats or canker sores. It can also be used as a douche to treat yeast infections. For senstitive areas such as mucous membranes, full strength is not recomended. Use a 10 percent, or less, solution. Avoid getting in eyes.

Tea tree oil is also used in deodorants and toothpaste.

Tea tree oil can be found at Trader Joe's and other health food and herb stores.

Reference: http://www.drweil.com/drw/app/cda/drw_cda.php?command=TodayQA&questionId=3037&pt=Question

Australian "Snake Oil" That Works


Thousands of Years Ago in New South Wales

The walkabout of the Budjalung Aborigines in this northeast part of the island continent now called Australia, ended at the pool in the swamp by the special group of trees. These are the ones whose leaves dripped its life fluids into the brassy water that gave such magical healing to the hurt that this harsh land could easily mete out. Crush the oily leaves and rub on one's skin if injured from t,horns or bites, and a more durable dressing can be made from a poultice made from powdered leaves; ground leaves also doubled as an insect repellant. It can be boiled into a savory tea.

1770: H.M.S. Bounty

"Cap'n Cook sir we've spotted land, and there's trees!" botanist Joseph Banks might have alerted Captain James Cook while his men were languishing from scurvy. The trees upon closer inspection indeed smelled with a nutmeg aroma, and after awhile the natives came around, and sensing the urgent need for a remedy, showed the sickly seamen how to make up a tea, which was happily ingested. Thus, the name, given by Banks, Tea tree. The crew, obviously bored with just tea, made a beer mixed with spruce leaves. The secret stayed with the aborigines, though, after they sailed away from this region and would take a century and a half before it would be fully shared.

Some General Science

1923 Museum of Technology, Sidney

Long before the 'bloomin onion' was developed at the pseudo-Aussie restaurant, the Outback, Australian government chemist and their Technology Museum's curator, Arthur R. Penfold was scientifically examining the oil in 1923. He was trying to determine possible value of plants, and the camphor like qualities of the Tea trees were of special interest. The ideal combination of non-irritability to tissue cells, while being about a dozen times stronger than carbolic (the standard up to that time) as an antiseptic, was documented by Penfold around 1925. He published his findings with F.R. Morrison, Australian Tea Trees of Economic Value. He noted the abundance of the arboreal potential with its yellow colored oil with a Rideal-Walker co-efficient being 11. The cineole which is between six and eight percent gives the camphoraceous odor, and the terpineol evokes the smell of nutmeg. The resulting focus on this product grew, and by World War II the Australian army issued the oil in their first aid kits. By the 60's and the increased interest in the 'natural health', or naturopathy, and organic methods of treatments, Tree Oil regained popularity, and within the last decade it is in the arsenal of today's health food consumers increased by almost twenty-five percent (especially amongst the Baby Boomers.) Dr. Paul Belaiche, Chief of Phytotherapy at the University of Paris has agreed to Tea tree oil as one of the most important anti-fungal and antiseptic herbal remedies, even as aromatherapy. In 1999 the University of California, San Francisco published their report on the onychomycosis hard-to-cure nail fungus cure from the oil.

Called Melaleuca Alternifolia by the scientists, it can be a shrub or a tree that can grow up to twenty feet tall in a hundred square mile subtropical part of New South Wales, especially the flood prone regions. It has narrow leaves and paper-like bark. (This species alternifolia having the most effective oil of the several varieties of genus Melaleuca, Myrtaceae family -- 'tea trees'. Also with potent oil are Melaleuca linaolia and Melaleuca dissitifolia; but the ineffective relatives: Melaleuca cajuput, New Zealand Manuka {Leptospermum scoparium}, New Zealand Kanuka {Leptospermum ericoides}, and its Ti-Tree {Cordyline australis) Ironically the best way of harvesting the oil from the leaves from these trees from its natural habitat, a bug-ridden, snake hidden soggy jungle, is by hand. This method, which could never allow mechanization, is by stripping leaves by cutting suckers off with a big machete, which actually stimulates increased regrowth, and prevents the environment's damage. The plant could grow in other regions of the world, and is reported to be growing in California, but the Australians are understandably vigilant to legally prevent stock plants to emigrate; especially after considering is this their number two exported after its numero uno, Eucalyptus,

Chemical Makeup

There are up to one hundred different chemical properties in the oil steam distilled from the leaves. Seventy-nine compounds have identified. Viridflorene is one that was never found in nature The main active ingredients are

  • terpinen-4-ol
  • 1,8-cineole
  • gamma-terpinene
  • p-cymene
  • misc. terpenes (sesquiterpenes, alcohol terpineol)


Medicinal Properties

Topical Antiseptic

While the new hospital bacterial nightmare, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become resistant to methicillin, this deadly bug which has increased forty percent in the last decade will be killed just as well by the oil as by Vancomycin; tested by University of Western Australia's Thomas Riley and Christine Carson. Using an oil soap to kill the bacteria on the hands -- the main vehicle for the transmission of Staph. It is good, therefore on other skin problems, as it goes right through several layers of epidermis, working with body oils, and is ideal for disinfecting insect bites, burns, skin eruptions and sunburn. It repels and kills scabies and lice, and can be used not only on diaper rash and prickly heat, but hives and poison ivy. It had half the bad drying side affects as did Benzoyl peroxide on acne. Something that can be a lip balm can also be an anti-lice shampoo; and can be used to deodorize armpits and feet. The ideal proportions of the two major compounds, are no more than fifteen percent Cineole, and one should have more than thirty percent of terpinen-4-ol. All the different compounds working together are what make it so powerful.

Anti-inflammatory Qualities

There is a numbing affect from the application of the oil, and is good for massaging over sprains, bunions, carpel tunnel, bursitis and arthritis --even gout. It relieves eczema and, move over preparation H, the 'roids. If one is too sensitive for the direct pure essential oil, it can be mixed with almond, or olive oil. The Flinders University of Adelaide is continuing the research in this area of reducing swelling in various parts of the anatomy.


Whether it is athletes foot, (Tinea) or worse. jock itch, the Tea tree oil has proved effective in combating not only fungal infections of the skin, but of mucous membranes like thrush. The oil only irritates mucous membranes nominally. Ringworm, Candida albicans and even the stubborn nail infections of onychomycosis can be overcome with this marvelous substance. In 1972 Dr. Walker tested the oil on the typical foot problems, especially with fungi using pure oil and two other mixtures one with forty percent oil and ten percent isopropyl alcohol, H20 miscible, called Melasol; and eight percent oil, lanolin and chlorophyll on sixty volunteer patients... and to make a long study short, it was best to use pure direct oil.

Official Findings

Pure Tea oil was good for not only short term effects, but long term. They also saw that a half dosage could kill Staphylococcus aureus. Even though the testing was difficult due to the non water soluble qualities of the oil, it still is seen as the first natural topical antiseptic and the FDA, who demanded its mandatory efficacy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli besides the previously mentioned Staphylococcus, was petitioned by the authors of A New Protocol for Antimicrobial Testing of Oils to use these chemical neutralizers in the auditing process. The Journal of Family Practice, 1994, compared the oil with the drug Clotrimazole with similar results. Chief Phytotherapist at the University of Paris, Dr. Paul Belaiche, called it a topical oil of the first order. Dr. Ian Southwell NSW Dept. observes possible allergic reactions were from alcoholic tea tree compounds, while the Univ. of W. Australian Centre for Pathology and Medical Research had results from their testing of 219 volunteers and their reactions had only three with a negative response.


Health Maintenance

It has been used to improve the immune systems of pre-surgery patients, and for those suffering with Chronic fatigue syndrome. It is recommended to add to one's bath water for hygiene, massage with it, and enjoy it's powerful aromatic qualities -- opening sinuses and soothing throats -- in an inhaled manner, especially in vaporizers. One can gargle, and brush teeth with it added to toothpaste, it helps periodontal infection, gingivitis, and prevents plaque. The laundry can be aided by its disinfectant qualities just with a small amount added to the tub. One must try to keep the oil out of the eyes and do a patch test on a small area of the skin first before embarking on a full scale application; and do not keep it in plastic. (It melted the bottom out of a small plastic cup for this writer upon using it successfully on his spouse's sore ankle.) It will keep up to about three years, maybe longer. Many commercial products use a small amount of it as one of their ingredients for lotions, potions, and notions like : facial cleanser, hand cream, lip balm, sunscreens, perfumes, shampoos, hair rinses, first aid ointments, mouthwashes, lozenges, throat sprays, polishes, toothpaste and even douches. One should not use for too long continually, or daily, without some break, as it possibly could cause liver and kidney damage in high and chronic doses.

Cleanser and Home Vet Homeopathy

It is a great cleanser for cleaning up mold, even on houseplants, and there is no safer way to wash diapers. Along with laundry soaps, there are industrial grade oils for floors and air conditioning disinfection. One can treat Rover or Boots' arthritis, bad breath, fleas, boo-boos, and more importantly -- mange. Shampoo Fifi and then dab on the oil, diluted and, or spray a teaspoonful diluted in a third cup of water. (Keep away from Bowser's eyes, though!)

Today's Source

Even though the natural stands in their swampy location dictate a careful environmental manual method of harvesting, the high demand for this product steam distilled from the leaves, is provided by plantations. The years following World War II saw its wide use diminished by the pharmaceuticals rise to power. Poor harvests by the seventies and lack of marketing almost kept the product as a esoteric health novelty only 'down under.' By the 1980's the dream of Christopher Dean to grow the tree in a more manageable manner in Bungawalbyn Creek in uttermost New South Wales came to fruition with his selling his "Medicine Chest in a Bottle." It was touted for lung ailments, vaginal yeast infections, warts, varicose veins, a natural 'Ben Ge' and even herpes besides the usual cuts, insect bites and fungal infections. Twenty years ago ten tons were produced and now the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association of sixty members was born, helping to develop a national standard. The largest plantation now being an organically grown enterprise providing half the world's supply. Melaleuca Inc. a decade ago was thirty-seventh of the half a grand quickest growing businesses according to Inc. journal. By 1998 the export was up to 700 metric tons.

On a personal side note: I have to use the stuff almost daily to keep a deep staph infected follicle from flaring up. I had reduced the size of the infection, and was not consistent and aggressive enough in finishing the invader off. One has to know it does cause minor skin irritation when one uses the full strength. Full strength does the killing job, however. It can be bought for about 7 USD in a 3oz. bottle at Wal-Mart, and, of course, most Health food stores sell it.

After all this the FDA has not approved it as anything other than an aromatic, and a placebo did as well in a Tinea test against a ten percent oil cream. Remember, any product that is natural is hard for the drug companies to patent. Experience shows it works, but science has not always been officially convinced. I am almost persuaded that it is the Love Potion Number Nine as sung about by the Coasters and Searchers more than a quarter of a century ago, "...it smells like turpentine, it looks like India ink...I held my breath, I took a drink..."

Vegetarian Times (online) Steven Foster, 1995
Channel Cincinnati; Dr. Christine Horner
Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine,(online) Sharon Crawford; 2001
Positive Health Publications (online)
Wellnet.ca; Cynthia B. Olsen
Recommended: http://www.teatree.co.uk

Update on the follicle infection: I had to have surgery to remove it.

Tea Tree oil is also great to wash your hair with.

I've found through experimentation that you need to put about 20 drops of Tea Tree into a 350ml bottle of shampoo. You might want to use a scented shampoo to mask some of the scent of the oil as it can be quite strong.

I found that after washing my hair with this a few times my hair became a lot softer and lighter and attracted less grease, but YMMV.

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