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Tea tree oil, which comes from an Australian tea tree and is also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil made from steaming the tree’s leaves.
It’s one of the few essential oils that I use and truly believe in its efficacy. A lot of information about essential oils is more folklore than science, but there is real science behind the uses for tea tree oil.
Either way, when used correctly, tea tree oil is safe to use topically. I don’t recommend ingesting it, though. It’s toxic when you swallow it. For that reason, I don’t suggest using it as a mouthwash, because you may accidentally swallow it.
Note: I’m not a doctor. I can’t give you medical advice and am just sharing my own anecdotes and what I’ve read about over the years. So please see your doctor for any medical issues you’re dealing with!
So what are some tea tree oil uses?
- Tea tree oil used with a carrier oil is useful for acne. Mind, this is not true for hormonal acne, which usually presents itself around the chin.
- When in a pinch, tea tree oil can be used as a hand sanitizer. Studies show that tea tree oil kills common bacteria and viruses, including E. coli, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae (1). Here is a recipe for making a simple, moisturizing hand sanitizer using tea tree oil.
- Dandruff relief is one of my favorite uses for tea tree oil. After I shampoo my hair, I mix a few drops of tea tree oil in a cup of warm water and pour it on my head. I leave it in for a few minutes, then add my usual conditioner. I then rinse as normal. You can also just add a few drops to your shampoo.
- Tea tree oil may be useful in repelling flies and other insects. A study found that after being treated with tea tree oil, cows had 61% fewer flies than untreated cows. (1)
- Applying tea tree oil to your feet helps relieve athlete’s foot.
- I hate conventional deodorant and find it causes breast pain. On all but the hottest of days, I prefer to use a natural deodorant made with tea tree oil and a few other ingredients.
- Lice! I haven’t tried this but others have mixed lavender oil with tea tree oil to treat lice eggs.
- Tea tree oil and colloidal silver are often mixed to treat boils on the skin.
- Tea tree can be used for some pelvic maladies like vaginitis and yeast infections.
- I have used tea tree oil for ringworm before, and it cleared up very quickly for me.
Keep in mind that it’s important to dilute tea tree oil appropriately with a carrier oil or water (depending on how you’re using it). If you don’t dilute it, it can cause itching, stinging, redness, skin irritation, and other skin issues.