Tea tree oil is the first essential oil that I dared to buy. Newbies in essential oils should start with a versatile and relatively inexpensive oil like tea tree oil before moving on to other oils. I have used tea tree oil as an ingredient in my homemade toothpaste and homemade deodorant and I personally love its clean, grassy and cool scent. I have also tried adding in a few drops to the last rinse cycle of my laundry and I found that it does lend a nice, fresh-smelling scent. I also know that it is a good, all-around antiseptic.
Tea tree oil is also known as melaleuca oil, the oil extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant which is native to Australia, particularly Queensland and New South Wales. The Australian aborigines have used tea tree oil for centuries in treating skin problems. They even believe that the oil can boost the immune system and facilitate lymphatic drainage.
I read up on the precautionary measures before going all-out in my tea tree oil usage and here are what I found:
1. Tea tree oil is toxic when taken by mouth and when swallowed in high doses can cause:
- blood cell abnormalities
- severe rashes
2. Tea tree oil can cause contact dermatitis in people allergic to it. Lesson: test the product on the inner side of your elbow before applying it on your face or other visible part.
3. It is not to be used in children and pregnant women and in pets.
4. Tea tree oil should not be exposed to light and air as the oils easily oxidize. For this reason, tea tree oil should be stored in a dark glass bottle away from light and air.
5. Undiluted tea tree oil has been found to cause hearing loss in animals.
6. Tea tree is possibly estrogenic — that is, it mimics the effects of estrogen. Lesson: use in diluted doses and do not take internally.
1. Tea tree oil is widely used in many cosmetic and toiletry products as it has been found to offer many dermatologic benefits, namely:
2. Tea tree oil has been found in one study to be comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide in treating acne.
3. It has been found to be effective in treating athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
4. Laboratory studies have documented the ability of tea tree oil to kill MRSA or methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that is resistant to many kinds of antibiotics.
5. It is said to be possibly effective for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
6. More evidence is needed to back up the therapeutic claims of tea tree oil for the following:
- bad breath
- cold sores
- sore throat
- dental plaque
- eyelid infection
- oral thrush or yeast infections in the mouth
- vaginal yeast and bacterial infections
How I am using and/or how I want to use tea tree oil:
Pending definitive studies on tea tree oil toxicity and dosing, I am limiting my use of tea tree to low-dose, diluted and solely topical applications. Occasionally though, I still use my homemade toothpaste — maybe once or twice a week — and only because I spit it out (but of course). Here are the many ways you can use tea tree oil:
- Antiseptic toothpaste ingredient — Here’s the recipe for homemade toothpaste. Just add about 3 drops of tea tree oil.
- Homemade deodorant — Here’s the recipe.
- Antiseptic surface cleaner — Fill a spray bottle with water and add in a teaspoon of tea tree oil. Shake well and use as all-purpose cleaner. This is a safer option than hypochlorite-based bleaches which are downright toxic.
- Bathroom cleaner and freshener — Fill a spray bottle with water and add in 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and spray on toilet bowl, walls and floor after cleaning.
- Anti-lice — Add a few drops (3 to 5) of tea tree oil to a bottle of shampoo to naturally get rid of lice.
- Cure for toenail fungus and athlete’s foot — Use undiluted tea tree oil to treat affected areas.
- Laundry freshener — As I’ve mentioned, adding a few drops of tea tree oil to the last rinse cycle of your laundry would go a long way in making your clothes smell cleaner and fresher.
What are your favorite ways of using tea tree oil? Do you even use tea tree oil or essential oils? What are your favorite brands of tea tree oil?
Disclaimer: I am not paid or compensated by Human Nature to feature their tea tree oil. I just trust this company and their products.