Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the "tea tree", Melaleuca alternifolia, and possesses a broad range of antimicrobial activity.
The medical world's first mention of tea tree appeared in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1930 where a surgeon in Sydney reported some impressive results when a solution of tea tree oil was used for cleaning surgical wounds.
Melaleuca alternifolia is a small tree native to the northeast coastal region of New South Wales, Australia. The leaves are the portion of the plant used medicinally.
Many products based on tea tree oil exist in the marketplace, including toothpastes, shampoos and conditioners, hand and body lotions, creams, soaps, gels, liniments, and nail polish removers.
Often provided at 100% strength, people with sensitive skin should use it in diluted form. It can be mixed with another oil such as almond oil. If a skin reaction occurs, discontinue use.
Although one Naturopath is known to have swallowed an ounce of tea tree oil daily for thirty days and appeared to show no ill effects, it is generally recommended for external use only.
It has been reported that allergic contact dermatitis to tea tree oil is commonly seen by Australian dermatologists [Medical Journal of Australia, February 21, 1994;160: p.236].
Avoid contact with the eyes and remember to store any product out of the reach of children. One study concluded that tea tree oil should not be used on burn wounds. [Burns, 1997;23(4): pp.349-351]
Tea tree oil contains antiseptic compounds that are a very effective skin disinfectant. Tea tree oil has been successfully applied to a number of fungal infections and is particularly good for relieving the symptoms of athlete's foot. Tea tree oil will eradicate or improve the symptoms of athlete's foot with continuous daily use. Apply 2-3 drops of 100% tea tree oil to the infection sites twice daily.
If 100% tea tree oil is too strong, then depending on severity use 5-15% solutions daily, diluting the tea tree oil with olive oil. Rubbing some on the affected area with a cotton ball several times a day for three to five days should eliminate the problem.
Dr. Klinghardt, MD found that a mixture of 1/3 DMSO, 1/3 tree oil and 1/3 tincture of cilantro was effective in eradicating athletes foot. Adding DMSO to tea tree oil provides greater skin and nail penetration of the tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil, taken internally, is reported to be useful in killing H. Pylori when taken at 15 drops of 100% strength twice daily. It may need to be taken in juice in order to mask it's strong flavor and with a pinched nose to mask it's odor.
124 patients with mild to moderate acne in a single-blind randomized trial were given either a 5% gel of tea-tree oil or 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. Both treatments resulted in significant improvement of noninflamed and inflamed lesions after three months, with tea tree oil causing more severe facial redness and benzoyl peroxide being more effective in noninflamed lesions. There were fewer unwanted side-effects in the tea tree oil group – 44% versus 79%. It was concluded that tea tree oil may be a valuable alternative to some traditional treatments of acne. [Lancet, December 8, 1990; p.1438, Medical Journal of Australia, 1990;153: pp.455-458]
We believe that this 5% solution is probably not strong enough for moderate to severe acne. Stronger solutions (up to 15%) should provide even better results.
Daily vaginal douches with a 0.4% solution of tea tree oil in one quart of water was found to be an effective treatment for trichomonas when continued for several days in a row. This percentage can be approximated by adding 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to 2 cups of water.
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