Tea tree oil is typically an essential oil extracted from the leaves of a tree native to Australia called Melaleuca alternifolia. Also, tea tree oil is usually called melaleuca oil. The oil has extensive use in both alternative and complementary treatments. Currently, cosmetics, household products, and topical medicines have a considerable amount of tea tree oil.
The oil has a wide range of benefits, including skincare, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial benefits. Keep in mind that the benefits are scientifically-backed; therefore, safe to use. Still, the oils are effective, affordable, and readily available.
Tea tree oil fast facts
- Tea tree oil is a distillate of Melaleuca alternifolia plant leaves, found in Australia.
- The oil mustn’t be swallowed
- Has a wide range of application, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
- Efficient in managing skin conditions and insect infestation
How tea tree oil works
Tea tree oil has a wide range of essential compounds is relieving various diseases in the body. You can use the oils as either undiluted/neat forms or diluted forms (5-50 %), especially in products designed for the skin.
The most notable compound is terpinen-4-ol, which is effective in killing some types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Besides, the compound increases the activity of the white blood cells, to enhance its ability to fight foreign bodies.(1), (2), (3)
Benefits of tea tree oil
1. Insect Repellent
Studies have shown that tea tree oil can repel insects.
A survey conducted in cows showed that cows treated with the essential oil have 61% fewer flies than those not treated with the oil.(4)
Another study (test tube) showed that tea tree oil repelled mosquitoes more than DEET. (5)
Perhaps this is the most common property of tea tree oil with over 100 years of application especially for skin conditions.
The essential oil has broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. Typically, it can damage cell walls of bacteria, though more research is needed on this.
3. Hand Sanitizer
The ability of the oil to kill common viruses and bacteria makes it an excellent natural hand sanitizer.
It kills bacteria that causes diseases E. coli, influenza, and pneumonia.(6)
Some studies suggest that adding tea tree oil to hand cleanser boots their effectiveness against E. coli. (7)
The high concentration of terpinen-4-ol is thought to quell inflammation as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
According to animal studies, terpinen-4-ol has anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in cases of mouth infections.
If applied topically in a human having histamine-induced skin inflammation, the tea tree is more effective than paraffin oil.
5. Natural Deodorant
Mostly, the underarm odor is related to perspiration, and it isn’t pleasant.
Usually, secretion from sweat glands combines with bacteria found on the skin to generate odor of varying intensity. The underarm has a large number of sweat glands, which makes it a common source of body odor.
Tea tree oil can kill the odor, causing bacteria. Thus you can use it as a natural alternative for commercial antiperspirants or deodorants.
Tea tree oils can kill a range of yeasts and fungi.
Studies indicate the oil is effective against Candida albicans, a type of yeast that commonly affects the skin, genitals, throat, and mouth.(8)
Tea tree oil gel is effective in reducing the severity of acne. It improves the count, lesion, and severity of this skin condition.
Studies show that tea tree oil is 6 times more effective than placebo. (11)
Another study shows that tea tree oil has similar effect as benzoyl peroxide against acne.(12)
8. Boost Wound Healing
9. Contact dermatitis
This condition arises in cases where the skin comes in contact with an allergen or irritant.
Tea tree oil is effective in suppressing the effect of allergic contact dermatitis, but care must be taken because tea tree oil may cause allergic contact dermatitis in some people.(15)
10. Control Dandruff
White flakes of dead skin may be common in the heads of some people. While it may not be dangerous, it is embarrassing and annoying.
A four-week study conducted in individuals using a shampoo containing tea tree oil reduced dandruff by 40%. (16)
Additionally, the essential oil reduced the severity, greasiness, and itchiness caused by dandruff.
You can add the tea tree oil to your shampoo to reduce dandruff.
11. Head lice eradication
Head lice are quite resistant to some medical treatment options.
However, studies show that tea tree oil can completely eradicate head lice within 30 minutes.