Tea Tree

Melaleuca alternifolia

The tea tree, also known as the Ti-tree, is a popular name that has been designated to several different and dissimilar plants, including Camellia sinensis, Ti (Cordyline fruticosa), Leptospermum, Leptospermum laevigatum and others. The tea tree essential oil is actually derived by steam distilling the leaves of the tea tree found in Australia and New Zealand. This tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, is found in abundance in New South Wales province of Australia. In New Zealand, tea tree oil is popularly known as 'Manuka'. However, it is commonly known as 'tea tree' in English, since the early English settlers in New Zealand brewed the leaves of the plant as a substitute for tea.

The essential oil obtained from tea tree has a light yellow color and a camphor-like aroma. The scent is somewhat spicy as well as medical. This essential oil is mild in nature and possesses numerous therapeutic properties, including anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-viral. This oil should always be applied externally, because using it internally produces toxic after effects. Owing to its gentle nature, tea tree oil can be used directly undiluted on cuts with a view to cleanse and disinfect them and, at the same time, provide relief from pain. Every first aid kit should contain a bottle of this valuable essential oil for its antiseptic attribute is effective in treating fungus, cuts and infections. It needs to be mentioned here that tea tree oil is among the most scientifically studied essential oils.

As aforementioned, unlike many other essential oils, tea tree oil is safe for use even when undiluted. The gentle nature of the oil makes it possible to apply it topically even on the delicate parts of the body. In fact, this oil has been used to treat several conditions on soldiers during times of war when there is a dearth in the supply of medications. These days, tea tree essential oil is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in products meant for personal care.

Unlike the rosemary or lavender essential oils, tea tree oil is usually not used for particular mental effects. However, this essential oil usually possesses a medicinal aroma as well as an invigorating impact. According to reports, use of this oil following any surgery has demonstrated its common benefits on the overall mindset and feeling of wellbeing.

Chemical analysis of tea tree oil, which is also known as ti-tree oil, has revealed that its main elements include a-pinene, a-phellandrene, a-terpinene, y-terpinene b-pinene, 1,8-cineolem sabinene, p-cymene, linalool, limonene, terpinolene, myrcene, a-terpineol and terpinen-4-ol.

As discussed earlier, the essential oil steam distilled from the leaves of tea tree possesses numerous therapeutic properties and is vital for the wellbeing of the immune system. In fact, tea tree oil works as an immune-stimulant and augments the body's capability to combat any type of infection. At the same time, this essential oil is also recommended to revitalize the mind as well as the body following any incidence of shock. Tea tree essential oil is highly effective in keep off all types of infections. Especially, this oil is more effective in three types of contagions - bacterial, fungal and viral. Therefore, this oil is also useful in treating cold sores, influenza, glandular fever, catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, especially in the respiratory tract) and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

It has been established that having a massage with tea tree essential oil prior to any surgery is not only helpful in strengthening the body, but may also lower the expenses incurred for treating a shock after any operation. In addition to the extraordinary anti-infectious attributes of this essential oil, it also helps in clearing asthma, coughs, bronchial congestion, whooping cough, sinusitis and even tuberculosis.

When tea tree oil is used on the genitourinary system, it helps to clear up vaginal thrush (candidiasis or fungal infection of the vagina or vulva), infections of the genital organs as well as cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder). When used in general or topically applied on the skin, tea tree essential oil helps to clear abscesses (a localized pus accumulation formed as the product of inflammation and generally caused by bacteria), herpes (any of the numerous aliments caused by the herpes virus), burns, blemishes, diaper rash, oily skin, sunburn, warts and also wounds that have already been infected. In addition, tea tree essential oil is also effective in fighting dandruff on the scalp.

Tea tree oil may be used effectively as a mild means to control irritation of the skin as well as skin contagions such as yeasts, athlete's foot, insect bites, acne, trivial cuts, scrapes (removal of the outer layer of the skin) and scratches. It may be cautioned that using only this essential oil for an elongated period of time may result in sensitivity among some individuals - particularly when one is using inferior quality of the oil. Otherwise, tea tree essential oil is considered to be safe even when applied topically on wounds or small areas of the skin in an undiluted form. Interestingly enough, even children are happy to find that tea tree oil or Melaleuca oil offers the much-needed relief from the pains of minor cuts and ant bites, which they are prone to.

Although it has been discussed above, it needs to be reiterated that the essential oil obtained from tea tree is among the most potent stimulants for the immune system and facilitates in combating all types of infections. At the same time, this oil is effective in clearing the skin, thereby, preventing infectious ailments.

When tea tree essential oil is combined with other suitable essential oils for massage or watered down for use in bath, it is useful for people suffering from any type of respiratory ailment. At the same time, tea tree essential oil is also effective in treating skin infections, disorders of the scalp, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), arthritis, colds and coughs, sinusitis, viral nettle rash (hives), infections, babies' cold, bronchitis and also sweaty feet. When tea tree essential oil is added to water to wash any skin problems, it is extremely effective in treating acne, bed sores, and lice. In addition, it is also useful in treating injuries caused by human or animal bites. It is advisable to pour a few drops of the oil on a cotton bud and apply the bud topically on the affected skin areas.

If you intend to use tea tree essential oil to get rid of lice, apply the undiluted form of the oil on the scalp and allow it to remain for around 40 minutes before washing your hair. Repeating this process on every alternate day for a period of 12 days will help you to clear your scalp of lice.

One may also use tea tree essential oil in dilution of 2.5 per cent to treat conditions caused by fungal outbreaks, such as paronychia or infection of the nails and athlete's foot. In addition, this oil may also be used to treat cradle cap (inflammation of the scalp occurring in infants). For treating these conditions, the oil needs to be applied topically and regularly. Always remember that tea tree oil is a very potent essential oil and, hence, one needs to exercise additional caution while applying it in undiluted form on the skin.

Tea tree essential oil may be effectively used as a mouthwash to treat gum infections, ulcers of the mouth, infections of the throat and tonsillitis. Many people who consume garlic are of the view that using tea tree oil as a mouthwash helps to get rid of the strong smell of garlic on the breath. While it has been scientifically proved that tea tree oil is highly effective in treating any type of infections, thus far, it could not be scientifically ascertained whether the use of this oil helps to get rid of the smell of garlic.

Blending tea tree essential oil into a cream or lotion is said to be very useful in combating viral and bacterial infections. When this blend is applied topically on the skin, it helps to treat an assortment of problems, including abscesses, acne, boils, wounds caused by animal and human bites. However, it is advisable to consult a proficient physician before applying tea tree oil to treat bite wounds caused by animals and/ or humans.

General properties

  • antiseptic
  • antiviral
  • cooling
  • fungicidal

Blends well with

General uses


Although the essential oil obtained from tea tree is believed to be safe for use as it does not cause toxicity or irritation, it may be sensitive to some individuals. Hence, this aspect of this essential oil always needs to be borne in the mind before using it. One must exercise caution to avoid using tea tree essential oil on deep wounds or cuts and in areas close to the eyes, ears or nose. Most importantly, this oil should never be used internally. One must always remember that tea tree oil is one of the most potent essential oils and, hence, it needs to be used with prudence. Using it in excessive amounts or in higher concentration may prove to be detrimental for our health.

Like in the case of using any other essential oil, using solely tea tree oil for a prolonged period may enhance the risks of skin irritations as well as other adverse reactions. However, tea tree essential oil is considered to be non-toxic and even if it results in toxicity sometimes, the intensity is very low. Hence, it is safe for use and therapeutically useful oil for the whole family. Some herbalists also assert that using this oil in undiluted form is also safe when applied topically on small skin areas like dabbing on an insect bite, scratch or a blemish.


From Capt - Apr-04-2011
Tea tree oil also is helping clear up my daughter's molluscum which is a nasty skin virus. I have been using the soap and tea tree oil diluted with olive oil and her lesions are finally starting to dry up after 16 months. Dermatologist said could take 4yrs to clear up!