The world is now waking up to the benefits of tea tree oil, which include preventing herpes, treating fungal skin infections, curing vaginal infections, and reducing dandruff. But the Bundjalung aborigines from New South Wales have been using tea tree leaves as medicine for ages. They inhaled the scent of crushed tea tree leaves for colds and coughs, sprinkled them on wounds, and used infusions to treat skin disorders. Their oral history has tales of wondrous healing lakes, which were lagoons into which tea tree leaves had been falling over time, enriching the water with medicinal properties.1 So lets’ take a look at what this miraculous plant can do for you.
1. Helps With Herpes
The herpes virus (HSV 1 and HSV 2) causes cold sores and genital herpes. Now, there is no cure for herpes, but according to research, tea tree oil shows virus-killing activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2.2
Apply a few drops of tea tree oil to the affected area directly. Better still, apply it as soon as you feel a tingling or burning sensation even before the blisters appear.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a cotton swab and dab the affected area to deal with the painful blisters caused by the herpes virus. Applying it as soon as you notice signs of an attack (for instance, you may feel a tingling or burning sensation in the affected area before the appearance of blisters) coming on may even prevent an outbreak.3
2. Kills Ticks
Ticks carrying the Borrelia type bacteria can give you Lyme disease, which starts off as a circular rash but can affect your nervous system, cause heart problems, and lead to meningitis if left untreated. According to research, tea tree essential oil can be lethal to ticks (Ixodes ricinus) when inhaled and can be used to control an infestation.4 5
3. Deals With Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot can give you itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked, or blistered skin. This fungal infection usually affects the skin between your toes or on your soles. And tea tree oil can come to your rescue here too.
Dab tea tree oil on the area affected by fungal infection.
According to one study, most people with athlete’s foot who applied tea tree oil (50% or 25% concentration) to affected parts twice a day for 4 weeks showed a marked improvement. 6 So try dabbing on some diluted tea tree oil if you get a fungal skin infection.
4. Treats Fungal Nail Infections
A fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) can give you thick, yellow nails that may crumble or separate from your skin and make it uncomfortable to walk, stand for long periods, or even wear shoes.7 But tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat this condition.
One study which compared an antifungal medicine (1% Clotrimazole) with 100% tea tree oil found that when they were applied twice daily for 6 months, tea tree oil actually performed slightly better than the antifungal medication.8 Apply tea tree oil to the infected part for relief.
5. Helps With Vaginal Infections
Vaginal infections can cause itching and pain in the vagina. You may also experience a foul odor. Tea tree oil acts as a germicide against common vaginal pathogens like trichomonas vaginalis and candida albicans. Add a little diluted tea tree oil to a tampon and insert it.
If you have a yeast infection in the vagina, add a few drops of diluted tea tree oil to your tampon.
Do remember not to leave the tampon in for more than 24 hours. Cleaning the vagina with a mixture of water and diluted tea tree oil can also be helpful.9
6. Treats Dandruff
Dandruff can leave you feeling self-conscious about your itchy scalp. But don’t worry, tea tree oil can help you get rid of dandruff. According to research, tea tree oil acts against Malassezia, a yeast which is associated with dandruff. And studies have found that a shampoo with 5% tea tree oil can reduce itchiness and greasiness in people with dandruff and effectively treat the condition.10 Now if you have an itchy scalp due to lice, don’t worry; tea tree oil works for lice too!
7. Treats Skin Infections And Bruises
Tea tree essential oil is traditionally used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It works really well as a natural antiseptic for skin infections. And it’s used for acne, bruises, insect bites, scabies (where tiny mites infect your skin and cause a rash), diaper rash, hives, poison ivy rash, among others.
Do remember that some people have an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) to tea tree oil when it’s used topically and so it’s always better to dilute the essential oil and do a patch test before applying it.11
8. Treats Gum Disease
According to research, tea tree oil is effective against a wide range of oral bacteria.12 Studies have also found that it is useful in treating gum disease (gingivitis) and that it reduces bleeding in the gums when applied topically.
Don’t apply tea tree oil directly to your gums. It is toxic if swallowed. Use a tea tree oil-based medication instead.
However, tea tree oil can be extremely toxic if it’s swallowed. Therefore it might not be a good idea to use it in the mouth.13
|↑1||Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. “Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.” Clinical microbiology reviews 19, no. 1 (2006): 50-62.|
|↑2||Schnitzler, P., K. Schön, and J. Reichling. “Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture.” Die Pharmazie 56, no. 4 (2001): 343-347.|
|↑3||Olsen, Cynthia. Australian Tea Tree Oil First Aid Handbook: 101 Plus Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil. Lotus Press, 1999.|
|↑4||Iori, A., D. Grazioli, E. Gentile, G. Marano, and G. Salvatore. “Acaricidal properties of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (tea tree oil) against nymphs of Ixodes ricinus.” Veterinary parasitology 129, no. 1 (2005): 173-176.|
|↑5||Lyme disease. National Health Service.|
|↑6||Satchell, Andrew C., Anne Saurajen, Craig Bell, and Ross StC Barnetson. “Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution: A randomized, placebo‐controlled, blinded study.” Australasian journal of dermatology 43, no. 3 (2002): 175-178.|
|↑7||Fungal Nail Infections. Blue Shield of California.|
|↑8||Buck, David S. “Comparison of Two Topical Preparations for the Treatment of Onyehornycosis: Melaleuca altemiﬁlia (Tea Tree) Oil and Clotrimazole.” The Journal of family practice 38, no. 6 (1994).|
|↑9||Pizzorno Jr, Joseph E., and Michael T. Murray. Textbook of natural medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012.|
|↑10||Satchell, Andrew C., Anne Saurajen, Craig Bell, and Ross StC Barnetson. “Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 47, no. 6 (2002): 852-855.|
|↑11||Tea Tree Oil. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.|
|↑12||Hammer, K. A., L. Dry, M. Johnson, E. M. Michalak, C. F. Carson, and T. V. Riley. “Susceptibility of oral bacteria to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil in vitro.” Oral microbiology and immunology 18, no. 6 (2003): 389-392.|
|↑13||Soukoulis, S., and R. Hirsch. “The effects of a tea tree oil‐containing gel on plaque and chronic gingivitis.” Australian dental journal 49, no. 2 (2004): 78-83.|