Tea tree oil: natural remedy from Australia

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The tea tree oil is a clear to slightly yellowish liquid with a fresh and spicy smell, which is obtained by steam distillation from the leaves and twigs of the Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). The Australian Tea Tree is an evergreen small tree from the myrtle family (Myrtaceae).

In Australia, the leaves of tea tree have long been used by the Aborigines for medical purposes, for example as a disinfecting wound dressing or as a hot water infusion for inhalation of respiratory diseases. Before the discovery of penicillin, tea tree oil was also used as an antiseptic for minor mouth procedures and was an integral part of first aid kits in the tropics.

Leaves of tea tree

The tea tree oil is distilled from the leaves of the tea tree

By distillation, the oily substance was first recovered in pure form in 1925. It is a mixture of about 100 different complex alcohols and essential oils. The main active ingredient of tea tree oil is about 40 percent of the amount of terpinene-4-ol, an alcoholic compound that also occurs in lower concentrations in eucalyptus and lavender oil. For the official declaration as tea tree oil the main active substance should be contained with at least 30 per cent. Tea tree oil has a three to four times stronger antimicrobial effect than eucalyptus oil. However, it must always be used in sufficiently high concentrations as some bacteria will otherwise develop more quickly antibiotic resistance.

Tea tree oil in natural medicine

Tea tree oil is mainly used for external treatment of skin diseases such as acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The oil has a strong anti-inflammatory and fungicidal effect and is therefore also used preventatively against wound infections and athlete's foot. It also works against mites, fleas and head lice. In insect bites, it can mitigate severe allergic reactions when applied quickly. Tea tree oil is also used in creams, shampoos, soaps and other cosmetic products, as well as an antibacterial additive for mouthwashes and toothpaste. For oral applications, however, the pure tea tree oil must be greatly diluted. Even when used externally in higher concentrations, many people react with skin irritation, which is why the tea tree oil is classified as hazardous to health. Pay attention to the expiration date of the liquid and keep the tea tree oil protected from light.

Video Board: TEA TREE OIL - Top Ten Health Benefits and Uses.

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