Nature provides us with a bounty of time-tested remedies. Tea tree oil has been used by aboriginal Australians for centuries to treat coughs and colds and as a topical treatment for wounds and skin conditions.
Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) which is native to Australia. Scientific inquiry has found that tea tree oil has a number of beneficial properties including antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic.
Tea tree oil should never be ingested or swallowed. Most topical treatments are diluted with an oil base or with another essential oil such as lavender.
Here are eight ways to use tea tree oil as a natural remedy.
Colds and flu. Tea tree oil can lessen the symptoms of colds and flu by putting a few drops in hot water and inhaling the vapors. It also loosens chest congestion.
Acne. A 5% gel application can be as effective as a 5% benzoyl peroxide solution and has fewer side effects.
Dandruff. Shampoo containing 5% tea tree oil is effective against a common type of fungus (Malassezia furfur) that causes dandruff.
Head lice. Tea tree gel has been shown to be more effective at treating head lice than permethrin, which is the usual pharmaceutical treatment and is now classified as a human carcinogen.
Athletes foot. A blend of 4 parts coconut oil to one part tea tree oil can be applied to athletes foot twice a day for an effective treatment. Or, add 10 drops of tea tree oil to a foot bath.
Toenail fungus. Here is where tea tree oil can be applied carefully in its pure form. One drop applied to the affected toenail twice a day is comparable to a common pharmaceutical treatment.
Bedbugs and mites. Add two teaspoons of tea tree oil to the laundry with hot water to kill bedbugs and mites. Apply a 5% tea tree oil solution to skin affected by the scabies mite.
General disinfectant. Diluted tea tree oil is an effective disinfectant that can be applied to toilet seats, faucets, door handles, and the like. It even shows promise against serious bacterial infections like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Justin Gardener, REALfarmacy.com