Welcome to the sixth installment in my ten-part natural immune booster series. (If you missed the first five, I provide links at the bottom of this article.) Unlike the previous five immune boosters we’ve learned about, this is one that you can’t take orally, but it is powerful, nonetheless. Native to Australia, today’s natural immune booster is tea tree oil.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical practitioner of any kind, and this series of articles on natural immune boosters is not intended to diagnose or attempt to cure any disease. This series is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition, please see your medical practitioner for professional advice.
Tea tree essential oil is the alternative name for melaleuca oil. This essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, a member of the myrtle family that is native to Australia. It received its nickname when Europeans saw the native inhabitants use the leaves for tea. That is not to be confused with the concentrated essential oil, which the aboriginal people of Australia used to treat all kinds of tropical infections and diseases.
Although the scientific research on tea tree oil is limited at this time (see my reference links below), it does have many traditional uses (some of which have been verified by scientific studies):
ANTIBIOTIC – The most important antibiotic component of tea tree oil is terpenes, a type of volatile oil that destroys bacteria. Treats
- Wounds, to heal infections
- Periodontal disease, gingivitis (used in toothpastes)
- May help against MRSA (used in soaps for medical personnel)
ANTIFUNGAL – Treats
- Dandruff (used in shampoos)
- Yeast infections
- Toenail fungus
- Athlete’s foot
ANTIVIRAL – Viruses arm themselves with a protective shell called a “cyst.” Viruses like the common cold, for instance, will create new “cysts” whenever activated, in order to try to trick our immune systems. The only way to kill a virus is to rupture the cyst that protects it. Tea tree oil has been found to rupture the cysts of some viruses. Treats
- Colds & flu (used as a steam inhalant)
- Cold sores
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY – May help conditions caused by inflammation, such as eczema.
ANTIMICROBIAL/ANTISEPTIC – Kills and wards off microbes such as protozoa responsible for tropical fevers and malaria.
STIMULANT – Stimulates the following, when used in aromatherapy:
- Hormone secretions
- Blood circulation
- Immune system
WARNING: Tea tree oil should never be taken internally! If it is swallowed, it can cause a dangerous depression of the nervous system, including confusion, muscle tremors, decreased brain function, or coma. Also, pure 100% (undiluted) tea tree oil should NEVER be applied to the skin. The skin absorbs the tea tree oil, and high concentrations can give the same toxic results as taking it orally. Pregnant and nursing women, as well as people with hormone-related cancers, should not use tea tree oil. As with any other herb or essential oil, please contact your doctor or other medical professional before using, especially if you have a medical condition or are on prescription medications.
Because tea tree oil cannot be used on the body in full strength, there are diluted forms of the oil on the market (so you don’t have to dilute it yourself). Also, the tea tree oil in most commercial products is in concentrations of less than 1% so they are considered safe. Some people may have an allergic reaction to tea tree oil, so apply it to your skin in a small area first to see if you are sensitive to it. If you develop a rash, stop using the product and contact your doctor.
My family uses tea tree oil shampoo, and I brush with toothpaste containing tea tree oil (and neem oil). I would like to get some tea tree essential oil for aromatherapy next.
How do you use tea tree oil?
For further information on tea tree oil, please visit these sites which I read in preparation for this post:
- Tea Tree Oil
- How to Improve Skin with Tea Tree Oil
- Health Benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil
- Tea Tree Oil: Three Cheers for Tea Tree!
MORE IN THE NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTER SERIES
- Coconut Oil
- Oil of Oregano
- Manuka Honey
- Colloidal Silver