Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tea Tree: The Details

Before we dive into the varied uses of tea tree oil we need to get some basic information out of the way.

Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Botanical family: Myrtaceae

When purchasing your tea tree oil look for a very pale, watery oil. The scent should be sharp, spicy, warm and camphorous.

From Essential Aromatherapy:
Because supply outstrips demand, tea tree oil is sometimes adulterated with other species of Melaleuca, of which there are many varieties. This is allowed by the authorities but no data exists to verify the efficacy of these blended oils.
Be sure of your source, especially for therapeutic applications!

Australia is the largest producer of tea tree, though you might also come across tea tree oil from New Zealand.

The tea tree is an evergreen growing up to 20 feet tall. The leaves are blue-green in color and very narrow. The tree produces small white to purplish flowers and thrives in natural swampy conditions.

It is the leaves and twigs that are steam distilled to extract the oil.

Tea tree's chemical profile will reveal why it has had such a lofty history:
Monoterpenes - antiseptic, antiviral, stimulating/energizing, mild expectorant/decongestant,
drying/dehydrating effect on skin
Monoterpene alcohol(terpin-4-ol) - Strong antimicrobial, gentle to the skin, antibacterial, antiviral, immune system support
Oxides(1,8 cineole) - antiviral, expectorant, respiratory stimulant

As you can see, tea tree  is the perfect oil when you want to ward off many types of infections! This is why it had such a strong use during war times.

The Aborigines of Australia used it as a medicine to treat skin disorders such as bites, bruises and infections. The British explorer, Captain Hook is credited with giving tea tree it's name after he made a tea from its leaves, hoping to prevent scurvy among his crew.
The antiseptic action of tea tree is thought to be 100 times stronger than carbolic acid, yet it is nontoxic!
the oil was so highly prized by the Australian Royal army nd navy as an antiseptic that each soldier was given a bottle of tea tree for treating infections, wounds and skin ailments.

Tea tree can be used to treat candida, ringworm, sunburn, acne, athlete's foot, toothache, head lice, and a wide variety of infections. It is useful as a respiratory support, decongestant and to counteract fatigue.

Tea tree is a great frind of lavender as we will see later.

There are no known contraindications for tea tree.

As with any oil, please use with care and ALWAYS dilute in a carrier of some sort.
 And please DO NOT use internally.

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