In Australia it is believed that the leaves of Melaleuca Alternifolia, the Tea Tree, have been used as a medicinal substance for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Captain James Cook used the leaves to treat scurvy among his sailors, and he must surely have got the idea from the indigenous communities who had long used it for treating infections and skin conditions.
Today Tea Tree Oil (TTO) is widely available in a distilled form as an essential oil, and many people are turning to it as a natural remedy which has many uses around the home as well as in the medicine cabinet. Modern research seems to indicate that many of the claimed benefits can be backed up experimentally.
TTO seems to act in many circumstances as an effective agent against bacteria. This means that it might be able to help your body fight against infection. For instance, some people use it to treat ear infections, or as a mouthwash to help against laryngitis—gargle, but never swallow!
Remember that it is never a good idea to self-medicate without first consulting your primary care physician, especially if you are already taking other medications.
Some pet owners use TTO to treat ear and skin infections in dogs and cats, and many find it effective, but it is known that animals can be more sensitive to it than humans.
In the home TTO can be used instead of a chemical disinfectant, as a wipe for your kitchen surfaces. Or a few drops sprinkled in your laundry can help make your wash fresher, as well as preventing your washing machine from developing pockets of bacterial residue which can cause unpleasant odors. Or try a few drops in the diaper pail to slow down the bacterial growth.
One of TTO’s most well-known features is its capacity to combat fungal infections such as ringworm. Yeast infections can be notoriously difficult to treat, and some people find that the use of TTO can help as an alternative to the stronger medicinal formulations which are available.
Around the house there are ample uses of TTO as an antifungal. Mold is unpleasant in appearance and in smell, and a tea tree spray can help to control it in your bathroom, your kitchen, and in those awkward little corners where the air doesn’t seem to circulate. Not everybody likes the smell of the oil, but it is surely preferable to the mold.
TTO has long been used as a treatment for skin conditions. Its earliest use in Australia was probably aimed at helping with inflammations. Some people use it for treatment of conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and others find it very effective in reducing inflammation caused by insect bites or poison ivy.
When fighting a head cold you could try inhaling over a bowl of hot water with TTO added. Or when relaxing in a hot bath after a strenuous day, as little TTO may help your aching muscles ease.
Where Can I Buy Tea Tree Oil?
There are many sources of commercially available TTO. Apothecary Extracts market a highly rated product through Amazon. Only choose products that meet the Australian standards for the concentration of the active ingredients, and are made from 100% tea tree leaves. The better brands are normally sold in dark brown glass bottles.
New uses for TTO are being publicized all the time. Many people use it as a natural air freshener. Some apply it as a lotion and find it is a very powerful insect repellent. Others use it to treat dandruff, and many find that it improves the condition of their hair generally. It can be effective against some parasites like head lice.
Some might try to use TTO as a moisturizer, remember that not only is the oil toxic if swallowed, but in concentrated form it can cause skin reactions in some people. So do your research with these moisturizer reviews to help find the best ones for your skin.
Tea Tree Oil for Health and Home
The above are just some of the uses to which tea tree oil has been put in recent years, building on a very long tradition of medicinal use.
Not all the claims that have been made for TTO have been backed up by proper scientific testing, but there is growing evidence that it deserves its status as a naturally occurring antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compound. Provided it is treated with respect as a powerful chemical, and not used against the advice of a doctor, there is no reason why it shouldn’t prove a very valuable addition to any store cupboard.
Luca Bryan leads a healthy lifestyle and takes a keen interest in natural living. Her medicine cabinet is full of essential oils and homeopathic remedies instead of drugs! She enjoys writing on the subject, her articles appearing on women’s lifestyle, health and alternative/green living related sites.