Tea Tree Essential Oil is a gentle yet powerful plant extract derived from the steam distilled leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, better known as the Tea Tree. The name “Tea Tree” was given to the botanical by 18th century sailors, who often gathered its leaves to make teas. According to legend, during Captain James Cook’s travels to Botany Bay in Australia, he discovered that he could derive immune-boosting health benefits from its leaves. Accordingly, he steeped them in water to make a tea infusion for his crew with the hope that it would help prevent them from acquiring scurvy.
According to historical sources, Tea Tree Essential Oil has been known for its medicinal benefits for decades, having been praised and used by the indigenous people of Australia for its health advantages well before the arrival of prescription medicine such as anti-biotics. Traditionally, the leaves of the Tea Tree were soaked in hot water to create tea infusions as in the aforementioned story. Alternatively, they were also crushed to derive their essential oil, which emitted a scent that was beneficial for soothing cold symptoms such as coughs.
With anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties, Tea Tree leaves have been reputed to promote the body’s elimination of fungi, viruses, and other harmful bacteria. Furthermore, it has been known to soothe and facilitate the healing of wounds, accordingly crushed Tea Tree leaves were commonly used to create mud poultices, which involved sprinkling the leaves on wounds and holding them in place with the help of mud packs to prevent infections developing on wounds or to soothe existing infections.
Tea Tree Essential Oil is a versatile extract that can be applied not only topically, medicinally, and in aromatherapy, but also in natural household cleaning products, such as air freshening sprays, hand bar soaps, laundry detergents, furniture and floor polishes, and pest deterrents. It effectively eliminates surface bacteria that accumulate in places such as shower curtains and dishwashers and, when diffused, it exhibits the same anti-bacterial properties for airborne microbes.
When its revitalizing and stimulating scent is diffused in aromatherapy, Tea Tree Oil is reputed to ease negative feelings such as fatigue and stress, while calming the mind and promoting a sense of mental clarity. This in turn reduces anxiety and enhances sleep quality. It also has the added benefit of relieving distresses of the respiratory system such as congestion.
When applied to the skin, Tea Tree Oil’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial are known to soothe the symptoms and discomforts of acne, bites, cuts, burns, rashes, and fungal ailments such as Athlete’s Foot. It not only eases pain but also slows or sometimes prevents bleeding, while simultaneously cleansing wounds of bacteria and thus promoting the faster healing of lesions and sores. When applied to scars, it promotes faster fading, thus quickly improving the look and feel of skin afflicted with blemishes. When applied to the hair and scalp, it is known to address complaints such as dandruff and head lice. It makes an ideal cleansing and anti-bacterial ingredient for use in topical products such as facial cleansers, deodorants, body washes, shampoos, hair and nail conditioners, lotions, creams, massage blends, and ointments. By encouraging the body to perspire, it also facilitates the elimination of bodily toxins.
For more in-depth information about the benefits and versatile applications of Tea Tree Essential Oil and to learn about the cultivation, harvest, and extraction processes that are undertaken to obtain it, visit New Directions Aromatics.