January's focus is Tea Tree - a beautiful essential oil from down undah
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
I've been using tea tree for many years, but for me it has always been the supporting role, never the star. Like Cuba Gooding Jr. to Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry McGuire. Or maybe Melissa McCarthy to Kristin Wig in the movie Bridesmaids. Some of my blends would not be successful without the supporting role of tea tree. It may be the medicinal aroma of tea tree that makes me give it the back seat, but as you'll read this essential oil really packs an antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic punch which can be really needed.
Tea Tree essential oil Melaleuca alternifolia is native to Australia, but can be found cultivated in many other countries such as South Africa, Brazil, US, UK, and China. Tea tree enjoys damp growing environment and is typically cultivated near swaps and rivers. Due to this growing condition the crops are at risk for being flooded.
According to the American Botanical Council, the most adulterated tea tree may come from Asia. More information is provided in this link from the American Botanical Council. I recommend ordering tea tree that is harvested from Australia.
Historically tea tree has been used in a variety of ways. I enjoy this description from the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association:
"The indigenous Bundjalung people of eastern Australia are believed to have used tea trees as a traditional medicine for many years in a variety of ways including inhaling the oil from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds, applying the leaves on wounds as a poultice as well as brewing an infusion of the leaves to make a tea for treatment of sore throats or applying on the skin for minor wounds, abrasions and insect bites and stings. One of the areas where tea trees are grown in abundance today is called Bungawalbyn which translates to ‘healing ground’. Captain James Cook named the tea tree because he observed the Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use the leaves to prepare a healing tea and it is reported that his men used the leaves first to make a tea and then to brew a type of beer!"
You had me at tea, but beer is even better! Now I'm unbelievably curious about trying both!
In the 1920’s a scientific study found tea tree essential oil to have stronger antiseptic properties than carbolic acid (this was before antibiotics)! Tea Tree became a common home remedy in Australia and was more widely appreciated and used during WWII when it was part of Australian soldier’s first aid kits.
Today Tea Tree essential oil is one of the most widely researched oils on the market. An interesting research article I found is a study conducted in Italy that used tea tree essential oil, propolis, and aloe vera to assist the healing and scaring associated with acne. The tea tree formulation worked as well as erythromycin cream, plus performed better than the antibiotic cream in reducing scars, severity of breakouts, and lesion count. (Mazzarello 2018)
Personally I have used tea tree in cold/flu blends, for athlete’s foot, and for breakouts. It is such a well used essential oil and with good reason. Below you will find my reference sheet for tea tree and one of my favorite recipes.
Native to: Australia
Plant Part: Essential oil steam distilled from leaves and twigs of small tree
Chemistry: Terpinen-4-ol (Should be over 30%), y-Terpinene, x-Terpinene, Terpinolene, 1,8 Cineole (low)
Chemistry note: Too much 1,8 cineole may alert you to the oil being adulterated with byproduct of Eucalyptus. Be sure to look at chemotypes as well.
· Stimulates the immune system, good for those feeling run down
· Supports healthy skin
· Good for viral infections
· Helps heal cold sores
· Spot treatment for acne
· May be effective against dust mites, lice, dandruff and MRSA infections
· Good for bathroom cleaning: castile soap, vodka, tea tree, Siberian fir, orange.
· Diffuser: Tea Tree and Lavender
Medicinal, fresh, herbaceous
Non toxic. May cause skin irritation.
Here is one of my favorite recipes!
Cooling, Refreshing Lotion
2 oz unscented lotion or cream
10 drops Peppermint EO
5 drops Tea Tree EO
5 drops Lavender EO
Blend together and label. Enjoy massaging into tired feet and legs after a long day. Especially helpful for those that have dry heels, yet suffer from itchy feet due to tinea pedis (athlete's foot). Spot test to make sure you are okay with the blend and have no reaction.
Safety: Please avoid with those under 5 yrs due to high menthol content in Peppermint, also avoid using daily if you take calcium blockers.
Don't have all the ingredients? Would you like to purchase a 2 or 4 oz jar of this cooling blend? You can find the link here (while supplies last!).
I hope you enjoy this wonderful essential oil. Is Tea Tree an old friend or new to you? I'd love to know!
More recipes using tea tree will be added every Monday in January!