TEA TREE OIL
The tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia is endemic to areas of eastern Australia (north of New South Wales to Queensland).
It has been introduced in countries with a similar climate (USA, South Africa, hot regions of China, around the Mediterranean (including France), New Zealand etc.).
It is a small tree or a bushy shrub with very narrow needle-shaped leaves (about 1 mm wide and 30-50 mm long) most often alternate but sometimes almost opposite, very green and persistent.
The more or less twisted and branched trunk has a bark that exfoliates in rags (as often in the Melaleuca, hence the somewhat general name of "paper bark tree").
The inflorescence is a spike of small white flowers that attract pollinating insects, the seeds are numerous and small.
The leaves of the tea tree are very rich in essential oil, which is released in hot weather or when crushed.
Other Australian Melaleuca are also considered as "tea trees": Melaleuca linariifolia and Melaleuca dissitiflora.
The genus Melaleuca contains other species with medicinal essential oil, examples: niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia), cajeput (Melaleuca cajuputi). Their essential oils have chemical compositions similar to that of tea tree but with different medicinal properties.
The tea tree is medicinal by its leaves and their ANTISEPTIC, BACTERICIDE AND ANTIFUNGAL ESSENTIAL OIL in general well tolerated by the skin unlike other essential oils with similar properties which are dermocaustic (examples: thyme, cloves, cinnamon bark of ceylon).
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
LEAFY TWIGS OF TEA TREE, TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL
The leaves of the tea tree contain around 2% of their weight in essential oil (which is a lot).
This essential oil has a slightly variable composition depending on the trees (their genetics), their geographical location (type of land and climate) and depending on the time of year.
The most interesting components, because STRONGLY ANTISEPTIC, are terpinene-4-ol, and chemically related terpenes (terpinene, terpineol).
Some tea trees have an essential oil with a lot of eucalyptol (1,8-cineole) which is useful in cases of bronchial infection (promotes expectoration) but not very antiseptic.
It was therefore necessary to establish a standard composition for the essential oil of tea tree with terpinene-4-ol (antiseptic):
A "good" tea tree essential oil contains AT LEAST 30% terpinene-4-ol (if possible a lot more) and less than 15% of 1.8 cineole.
It also contains other biologically active "terpenes" but in small percentage.
Tea tree essential oil is:
- ANTISEPTIC, BACTERICIDE (ANTI-BACTERIAL) and therefore ANTI-INFECTIOUS. Many germs are sensitive to it, even some staphylococci (Staphylococcus aureus) resistant to synthetic penicillins and some gram- difficult to eliminate germs (Colibacillus, Proteus, Klebsiella, Enterococcus).
- ANTIFUNGAL AND ANTI CANDIDOSIS: active on fungi responsible for skin or nail infections as well as on certain fungi that spoil food.
- ANTI INFLAMMATORY especially on inflammations of the skin and dermis (psoriasis, eczema, burns due to radiotherapy, inflammatory and infectious dermatitis, acne).
- This essential oil has other properties: strengthens physical tone, contact analgesic, but can increase certain muscle spasms or contractions and perhaps have a feminizing action (mainly in children following a lenghy treatment).
An INFUSION of dry or fresh leaves of tea tree is useful to prevent or cure a respiratory infection with influenza type virus or as a "tonic infusion" , but it is especially its essential oil which is appreciated in phyto-aromather
TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA
- SKIN INFECTIONS, infected wounds, infected burns, infected skin ulcer, insect bites.
You can use pure essential oil (a few drops on the area to be treated 2 to 3 times a day) or by diluting it in a little ethyl alcohol (ethanol, cologne), for example using a gauze pad soaked in alcohol on which a few drops of essential oil are placed and left for a few hours on the infected area.
Suspend or stop treatment in the event of an allergic reaction or skin intolerance.
- SKIN WARTS
Simple warts are caused by viral infections quite often sensitive to tea tree essential oil.
They can be eliminated most often by applying a drop of tea tree essential oil 3 times a day for one to two weeks.
The wart stops growing then decreases in size, and gradually dries up. If there is no positive reaction within a few days, stop the application of EO, this is another type of skin tumor.
Do not apply this essential oil on warts of the mucous membranes (genital warts for example), because of the risk of chemical burns.
- ACNE (teenager and young adult), ACNE ROSACE
The activity of tea tree essential oil is twofold: antibacterial (in particular on Propionibacterium acnes, the main cause of acne) and anti-inflammatory.
It can be used pure in light application and daily or twice daily on the acne areas (if they are limited) for 3 to 4 weeks or diluted to 1/20 in a fatty substance ("dry" oil) or a neutral excipent. .
<< Puberty acne and adult acne rosacea are sensitive to the action of essential oils.
The bacteria responsible for inflammation and infection (Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus) are sensitive to many essential oils and do not develop resistance to these essential oils unlike antibiotics.
Among these essential oils we choose those which are well tolerated by the skin: essential oil of tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia (with terpinene-4-ol) and essential oil of true lavender, Lavandula angustifolia.
- Essential oils in application diluted in vegetable oil (sweet almond but also olive oil). The concentration can vary between 2 and 5%, below it is ineffective, above there is a risk of intolerance.
Or 50 drops in 100 ml of oil (1/10 of a liter) for 2%, up to 100 to 125 drops for 100ml of oil (4 to 5%).
Applications to acne-prone areas once or twice a day, the excess oil is eliminated after a few minutes with cotton pad.
- Essential oils of tea tree or true lavender in a gel (aloe gel for example) or a cream: generally at two percent, i.e. 5 drops for 10 ml of gel or cream (but if it is well tolerated up to 5%). Applications twice daily .
Avoid the eye area and limit sun exposure, especially with tea tree oil. >>
Tea tree essential oil undiluted can cure these chronic infections alone or better in association with a synthetic antifungal.
It takes patience especially in the case of nail infection.
- INFECTION AND SORES OF THE MOUTH (tongue, teeth, gums), mouth sores. Tea tree essential oil one or two times a day in mouthwash is analgesic (interesting for canker sores and decayed teeth) and antiseptic.
Personally, for these indications, I prefer clove essential oil. Eugenol is more caustic but very effective.
- HERPES: tea tree essential oil seems to be active on herpes viruses when applied undiluted directly on the herpes lesion.
- RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION: nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, seasonal viruses.
The action of tea tree essential oil is twofold: antiseptic and to promote expectoration.
It is used daily:
- applied to the skin on the thorax, pure or diluted in a little vegetable oil,
- inhalation (a few drops in a bowl of very hot water or an inhaler twice a day),
You can apply a few drops of tea tree or niaouli essential oil before or after the radiotherapy session on the inflamed area.
It is possible to alternate between essential oil and calendula cream which is also very useful in soothing the burn of radiotherapy.
WOMEN'S GENITAL INFECTIONS due to yeasts (candidiasis), vulvovaginitis, leucorrhoea (white discharge).
In the event of recurrent leucorrhea and resistant to treatments available in pharmacies (vaginal ovum, vulvar cream), the pharmacist can be asked to prepare eggs with neutral content in which he adds approximately 30 mg of tea tree essential oil per ovum.
To be placed in the evening at the bottom of the vagina for 3 to 5 days in a row.
Tea tree oil can help eliminate head LICE: direct application to the scalp and hair using a comb to evenly distribute the essential oil. Cover the hair for 1/2 hour with a waterproof cloth or plastic then shampoo. Do this operation once a week for a month.
In case of tick infestation (walk in the undergrowth, contact with parasitized animals), a drop of tea tree essential oil can be applied to the tick before extracting it from the skin.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should limit applications of this essential oil, and not use vaginal ova containing it, nor take it by mouth.
Do not use it (like the essential oil of cajeput) in children under 6 years and only in limited applications in older children because of the (low) risk of "feminization".
Some people are "allergic" or intolerant to tee tree oil, but it is often the result of an essential oil that is poorly preserved or too old (expired) which contains irritating or allergenic oxidation products.
Tea tree oil is especially interesting in external use, it is necessary to limit the internal use.
ORIGIN OF TEA TREE OIL
Global demand for this essential oil is increasing and Australia's small tea trees are no longer sufficient to ensure the supply.
Other plants related to Melaleuca alternifolia are therefore used to provide an essential oil (sold as a tea tree) with a similar chemical composition and content in antiseptic substances corresponding to the standard established for the true tea tree.
The tea tree is easily grown from seeds.
In Australian plantations, the small shrubs are cut after 2 to 4 years and sent to the distiller as quickly as possible because terpinene-4-ol is volatile.
TEA TREE, A SMALL AUSTRALIAN TREE PROVIDING AN ANTIBACTERIAL AND ANTIFUNGAL ESSENTIAL OIL
The tea tree is a small tree nat ive to the south-east of Australia ,
. Its leaves contain a very antiseptic and antifungal essential oil which is generally well tolerated by the skin.
It is useful for treating infected wounds, infectious dermatitis, infected burns, acne, skin fungus infections (dermatophyte, ringworm), nail infections (onychomycosis), infections of the respiratory tract, mouth and ears , certain genital yeast infections (leucorrhea, white discharge).
It can also be used to reduce burns caused by cancer radiotherapy.
Copyright 2020 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel