Monday, October 15, 2012

Natural Remedy: The Many Uses of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is the essential oil derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca tree.  The tree is found in Australia.  It has been heralded for having anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties that make it a favorite among alternative health professionals and natural practitioners.

Rather than using over-the-counter or prescription anti-fungal medicines, you may want to try the natural anti-fungal tea tree oil instead.  Here are just a few ways tea tree oil can be used:

Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* To treat athlete’s foot
* To treat toe fungus
* To treat acne
* To treat Candida and thrush
* To treat vaginal infections
* To treat contact dermatitis – allergic reactions
* To treat cuts and scrapes
* To treat dandruff, psoriasis and other scalp/hair related dryness and issues
* To treat burns
* To treat lice
* To treat herpes
* To treat Staph infections

Application of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, unlike other supplements, isn’t to be taken orally.  It’s commonly made into a tincture or added to inactive ingredients before applying directly to the skin.  For example, a common dose is 5-10% tea tree oil in gel or shampoo form.

Full-strength 100% tea tree oil can and is often used to treat fungal nail infections or skin infections.  It can also be used in full form as an antiseptic or antibacterial treatment.  In some products to treat acne, benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil are both at 5% and combined with inactive ingredients. 

Tea Tree Oil Isn’t Safe for Everyone

Tea tree oil is known to cause allergic reactions in some people, and should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Allergic reactions include mild contact dermatitis to severe blistering rashes.

English: little bottle of Tea Tree Oil Česky: ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A few smaller studies have also connected tea tree oil to altering hormone levels, so if your hormones are sensitive or you are pregnant or breastfeeding it should be avoided.  Additionally, it’s been connected with breast enlargement in boys so adolescent males may want to avoid tea tree oil.

Additionally, while tea tree oil may be found in mouthwash and toothpaste these products should only be used by adults who do not swallow their toothpaste and mouthwash.  Tea tree oil when consumed can cause impaired immune function, diarrhea, fatigue and in extreme cases even coma.

Tea tree oil is one of the wonderful things nature has given us.  However, it isn’t to be taken lightly.  Use it as it's intended, speak with a physician if you have questions or concerns, and enjoy the benefits of this wonderful and powerful oil.

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