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In this episode, I pick up where I left off on tea tree essential oil. As a brief recap, I previously discussed how it is one of the most popular essential oils. This is based on its natural origin and its many versatile uses. I also highlighted the backlash of its success. Recently, European regulators are considering classifying it as a reproductive toxin!

Thankfully, the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) is teaming up with powerful leaders in the cosmetics industry to challenge this proposal. They are compiling all the studies that provide evidence of this beloved oil’s long-term safety. This group is also analyzing the flaws in the rodent data that led to the conclusion that tea tree oil is unsafe.

I feel bringing attention to this issue is vital. This is because the latest attempt to classify tea tree oil as dangerous could have an impact on our ability to access and use it.

So, now that the unpleasantries are out of the way, it’s time to focus on all the amazing qualities and benefits of tea tree oil. During this show, I provide a general synthesis of the studies on this precious oil’s uses, safety, and applications.

Below is an overview of tea tree oil and how it got its name. Following that information are some of the major points discussed in this episode as well as all the references.

An Overview of Melaleuca and Tea Tree Oil

 

The Melaleuca Family

Melaleuca is a genus of shrubs and trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, a family of dicotyledon plants. Other known members include myrtle, clove, guava, feijoa, allspice, and eucalyptus. With over 3,300 species, the myrtle family is known for its diversity and wide range of features. However, all species are woody, with essential oils, and have flower parts in multiples of four or five.

 

Melaleuca Species

There are 236 described species of Melaleuca, and 230 species are endemic to Australia. There are a few remaining species in Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia.

Melaleuca is the most common name for this plant. This is rare for the name of the genus to also be the common language for the plant. Still, many of the larger species are also known as paperbarks, and the smaller types as honey myrtles. Non-volatile compounds shared among the melaleucas include phenols, betaines, and triterpenes.

 

Melaleuca Alternifolia

Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree, is well known and notable for its essential oil, which is both anti-fungal and antibiotic. It is standardized to the compound terpinen-4-ol. (source, source, source, source)

Terpinen-4-ol has strong antimicrobial properties. This compound also appears to increase the activity of white blood cells, which help to fight germs and other foreign invaders. These germ-fighting properties make tea tree oil a valued natural remedy for treating bacterial and fungal skin conditions, preventing infection, and promoting healing.

Until a recent scare with proposed regulations, it has been accepted to be safe to use for topical applications.

 

How Tea Tree Oil Was Named

New World Encyclopedia states:

The name “tea tree” was given in 1770 by the British explorer Captain James Cook and his crew (Longe 2005). The crew used them [leaves with the oil] originally for tea, but later mixed them with spruce leaves as a beer (Longe 2005). The tea-tree or ti tree is not actually very usable for making tea. Some feel that the name actually came for the brown coloration of many water courses caused by shed leaves from this species and other similar species trees. The name “tea tree” is also used for a related genus, Leptospermum. Both Leptospermum and Melaleuca are myrtles of the family, Myrtaceae.

Learn More About Tea Tree Oil During the Show, Including:

  • An introduction and review of the previous episode (0 min)
  • An overview of Melaleuca and tea tree oil including its family, species, and where it is endemic (1 min)
  • The active component found in standardized tea tree oil that is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory (3 min)
  • A fun fact about how tea tree oil was named (3 min 30 sec)
  • Historical uses of tea tree (4 min)
  • How tea tree oil was used during WWII by the Australians and why its use came out of favor (6 minutes)
  • An overview of conditions that tea tree oil may benefit and why it is helpful, including: (6 min 30 sec -9 min)
    • MRSA
    • Dandruff
    • Fungal and viral infections
    • Acne
    • Respiratory infections
    • Inflammatory conditions
    • Oral hygiene
  • Uses and applications of tea tree oil based on scientific studies, including the following: (9 min 30 sec)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Insect repellent
    • Antiseptic
    • Wound healing
    • Acne
    • Toenail fungus (can be applied neat if used carefully)
    • Mouthwash
    • Natural cleaning
    • Dermatitis
    • Bug bites
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Preserving produce from mold
  • How essential oils affect the microbiome and how this relates to oral disinfectant rinses with them in it (16 min)
  • A natural, all-purpose cleaner recipe using tea tree oil (17 min)
  • Using tea tree oil for mold in the environment and what diffusers NOT to use in moldy conditions (19 min 30 sec)
  • The emerging evidence for tea tree oil for psoriasis (20 min)
  • Is tea tree oil effective against scabies and head lice? (21 min)
  • A wrap up on the many properties of tea tree oil that make it so popular (23 min)
  • Closing remarks (24 min)

Learn more about this oil that is a global sensation.

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Resources From the Show:

 

Additional Resources on Tea Tree Oil:

 

Previous Episodes Mentioned on the Show:

 

Links to Learn More About My Offerings and Education on Essential Oils:

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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.

Thanks Pixabay and Canva.