Don’t miss out on one of nature’s wonder plants. There’s no limit to the promise of tea tree oil, which is derived from Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia.
Tea tree has long been known to be useful as both an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent, and there are many reports of its utility as an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal as well.
Aboriginal Australians used tea tree for numerous remedies and even visited lakes where the leaves had fallen and decayed for healing baths, according to oral histories. The traditional remedy has been enjoying a resurgence in recent decades thanks to renewed attention on natural products.
A review published in the Clinical Microbiology Reviews journal looks at the current state of tea tree research and notes its growing popularity will only expand given the rise of microbes that are resistant to conventional antibiotics.
“A paradigm shift in the treatment of infectious diseases is necessary to prevent antibiotics becoming obsolete, and where appropriate, alternatives to antibiotics ought to be considered,” the review concludes. Furthermore, many patients prefer alternatives because they can be similarly or more effective than conventional medicine without the harmful side effects.
Check out these five common medical issues that you can treat with tea tree:
Coughs And Colds: Indigenous Australians crushed leaves and inhaled them to treat these common symptoms and relieve their respiratory ailments. You can try the same method if you have access to leaves, or add a few drops of tea tree oil to a humidifier to sooth sore throats and asthma. Another effective technique is to add the oil to a large bowl of boiling water and lean over it with a towel over your head to hold in the vapors. Some people also like to add the oil to their bath water and let the vapor calm their throat and lungs.
Healing Wounds: Tea tree works as an antiseptic so if you apply it to a cut or wound it can help keep an infection from setting in. This can be especially useful in the tropical environments where the plant was originally found.
Sooth Your Skin: Rub a little oil on your skin to help alleviate rashes, sunburns, acne and other irritations. Tea tree oil at full strength may by too powerful and irritate people with sensitive skin, so it may be best to dilute before application.
Keep The Insects at Bay: Tea tree oil can make an effective repellent against biting insects like mosquitoes, and can be used to remove pests like ticks and lice from your body, keeping you safe from numerous insect-borne diseases.
Cure Your Toenail Fungus: Apply the tea tree topically under your nails to drive away fungus. It can also reportedly help with other fungal irritants like athlete’s foot.
We’re really just scratching the surface of what tea can be used for, as other reports suggest it can be useful for ailments as varied as E. coli, the flu and strep throat. Perhaps its greatest potential could be in combating the nasty, antibiotic-resistant infection Staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA, although this has not been confirmed by a large-scale clinical trial yet.
While conventional practitioners often eschew alternatives to pharmaceutical solutions, the medical establishment may have little choice but to explore natural remedies like tea tree as antibiotics lose their efficacy. As studies prove that alternatives work, doctors will gravitate more toward them. “A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that [tea tree oil] has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties,” the review notes, calling for more study because the data is less conclusive for bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
Remember that tea tree oil is for topical use only and should never be swallowed, except in very diluted form and under specific instructions from a health practitioner.