Tea tree oil is extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia of the Myrtaceae family and is also known as ti-tree, ti-trol and melasol. This oil is one of the most used essential oils.
Tea tree oil:
Soothes skin wounds, infections and irritations
Combats gum disease
Treats cystitis and glandular fever
Is antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral
Stimulates the immune system
Tea tree oil can be used to treat head lice: apply neat onto the scalp, leave for 40 minutes and wash the hair. This must be repeated every second day for twelve days.
Tea tree oil can be used in oil burners, can be blended into massage oil or added to bath water. The oil can also be applied neat on problem areas with a cotton bud.
The tea tree is a small tree from New South Wales in Australia, which is similar to the Cypress. It has needle-like leaves and heads of sessile yellow or purplish flowers and grows to about 7m high.
The oil has a light spicy, rather pungent smell and is very pale in colour with a watery viscosity.
Tea tree is used by traditional Australian Aborigines to treat coughs and colds. The herb also makes a great mouthwash to ward off oral infection or a gargle for sore throats.
Although essential oils normally blend well together, tea tree oil blends particularly well with cinnamon, clary sage, clove, geranium, lavender, lemon, myrrh, nutmeg, rosewood, rosemary and thyme.
Do not take the essential oil internally without professional supervision. The oil also shouldn't be used on deep wounds or near the eyes, ears or nose.
Some people are also sensitive to this oil. Remember that it is a powerful essential oil: the neat application onto the skin must be done with care.
(Information supplied by www.essentialoils.co.za.)
(Zaakirah Rossier, Health24, updated October 2010)