Praising the Power of Melaleuca alternifolia
When someone says “Melaleuca” what do you think of?
You probably think of tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia).
This specific species of the Melaleuca genus has captured the sniffers of many and stolen the spotlight from its “relatives” for good reason. (source, source) This is why even in this article dedicated to the underappreciated Melaleuca ericifolia, it deserves more than just a mention!
The Power of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Traditional use and modern science have shown not only the versatility of tea tree essential oil, but also its efficacy. In fact, beyond the test tubes and rodent cage experiments, tea tree oil has been vindicated in human clinical trials.
- skin health (i.e., acne, nail fungus wound healing and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections) (source, source, source, source, source, source)
- oral care (source, source)
- scalp care (dandruff)
- antiseptic actions
- immune support (i.e., antimicrobial, anti-viral (herpes), anti-fungal, inflammation) (source)
- gynecological care (vaginosis)
- and more (source, source, source, source)
Usage & Safety
When used appropriately and responsibly, tea tree oil is safe. (source, source, source, source) It can be a bit irritating to the skin, so dilution is recommended. You also always want to make sure you trust your essential oil company to provide you with the quality of the oil and appropriate chemotype (active secondary metabolites, or main constituents).
For more information on safe use of essential oils, visit my Essential Oils Database under “Children and Safety.”
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You can also get customized and individualized recommendations by booking an essential oils consult with me.
Fun Factoid: How Tea Tree Oil Got Its Name
According to New World Encyclopedia:
The name “tea tree” was given in 1770 by the British explorer Captain James Cook and his crew (Longe 2005). The crew used them 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. – (source)
The “Other Melaleuca”
With all of these impressive actions in one bottle, it’s easy to overlook other Melaleuca species.
As you know by now, I am always a fan of the underdog, so this doesn’t sit right with me!
Recently, someone brought another member of the Myrtle family to my attention, and I was wowed!
It made me realize that just because tea tree oil is popular, well-referenced, and has a cool name, doesn’t mean the other “bunch” should get ignored!
Introducing “Lavender-Tea Tree”
Melaleuca ericifolia is affectionally referred to as the gentle, “kid-friendly tea tree” oil.
When I read that, I had to get the “tea” on it!
Lingo aside, I found out that this Melaleuca ericifolia has a lot of nicknames including “lavender tea tree,” Swamp Paperback, and Rosalina. Also belonging to the Myrtle family, it shares its native home in Australia with tea tree. As a plant, Melaleuca ericifolia is a large shrub or small tree that can reach up to 25 feet high! It can form dense thickets in wetlands and likes to populate along the water. Although Melaleuca ericifolia can provide shelter to small creatures, it can also be a bit of troublemaker. According to one source, it “poses a threat to water resources and water-dependent biodiversity and related ecosystem services.” Yet this warning may be a bit harsh. The melaleuca family is pretty hardy and their ability to adapt to different environments has led some experts to claim them as potential land rehabilitation tools. (source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
Getting to the “Essential” (Oils) of Melaleuca
With over 3,300 species, the myrtle family is known for its diversity and wide range of features. Melaleuca ericifolia is no exception. (source, source, source) This plant is found within the almost 300 species of melaleuca genus. Non-volatile compounds shared among the melaleucas include phenols, betaines, and triterpenes. (source)
Whereas quality tea tree essential oil is standardized for the compound terpinen-4-ol, (source, source, source, source) Melaleuca ericifolia is characterized by a unique combination of volatiles that had me very impressed.
Why is this blend of constituents so impressive to me?
Find out… in the upcoming article!
Do you love tea tree oil too?
What are your favorite uses?
Share more in the comment section!
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.)
Disclaimer: 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.