The benefits of tea tree leaves were first discovered by the indigenous people of Australia, who believed it contained natural healing properties that benefited the mind and body.
The uses and benefits of tea tree oil have expanded as more has become known about the plant and its oil, which is why it is so commonly listed as an ingredient in shampoos, skin creams, shampoos, disinfectants, detergents and much more.
Whilst research continues into the medicinal effectiveness of tea tree essential oil, countless studies have already published positive results that indicate it could provide a sustainable alternative to some traditional treatments.
With that in mind, we’ve put together 10 tea tree oil benefits and uses to give you a better understanding of its history, how it works, how to use it and how it can work as a natural remedy.
What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil produced through the steam distillation of leaves taken from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. It has a camphor-like fragrance (spicy, cooling, herbal and woody) and its appearance can range from being completely colourless to pale yellow.
People use it to treat a wide range of minor ailments, relying on its natural properties to improve various skin conditions, ward off insects and to sanitise household surfaces.
As we explain below, there are lots of different ways you can use tea tree oil to potentially benefit your body, all of which are backed by scientific research.
How does tea tree oil work?
Tea tree oil has a high amount of terpene, which is ideal for combatting fungus and bacteria and also reducing allergic skin reactions.
Because the oil is extracted from the Melaleuca plant using a steam distillation process, it is able to retain the sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes and terpene hydrocarbon compounds that can provide antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial protection.
These hydrocarbons help the scent of the oil to travel and enter skin pores to deliver aromatic treatment benefits. Many people use the oil topically (when diluted with a carrier oil), although the benefits of tea tree oil can also be effective when diffused or mixed into a warm water bath.
Benefits of tea tree oil
Some of the tea tree oil benefits include:
1. Reducing skin inflammation
People who experience contact dermatitis may find that using tea tree oil can help to relieve symptoms such as red, itchy and inflamed skin.
One study compared the effectiveness of different treatments for contact dermatitis and found that the oil reduced symptoms by 40%, which was higher than any other type of medication used.
Another study found that tea tree oil could prove beneficial in soothing reactions to bug bites, helping to lower swelling and redness that occurs when histamine is released by the body to combat insect saliva.
2. Combating acne
When it comes to combating acne, tea tree oil could offer a natural remedy that reduces its severity. Studies have been carried out that confirm this theory, with the oil working to kill off some types of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.
The most common anti-acne medication used is benzoyl peroxide and another study found that tea tree could be just as effective.
You can make your own tea tree acne oil at home, by blending one part tree tea oil with nine parts water. Then, using a cotton swab, apply the mixture to affected areas of the skin, repeating this once or twice a day.
3. Treating minor cuts and scrapes
Tea tree oil contains antiseptic properties that can prove useful when treating minor cuts and scrapes.
Use it to prevent germs from entering broken skin that can lead to an infection, killing bacteria such as S. aureus that can otherwise cause issues in open wounds.
You can keep on repeating this method once or twice a day, depending on the size of the wound, until a scab forms to protect it.
4. Healing wounds faster and more effectively
In addition to protecting open cuts and scrapes, tea tree oil can also help to speed up the healing of wounds.
White blood cells play a vital role in the healing process and research has shown that tea tree oil can trigger these cells, whilst also reducing skin inflammation.
The rich combination of antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial properties have also been found to enhance healing and reduce inflammation.
A small study involving 10 people with wounds discovered that the healing time was faster in all but one participant, allowing the wound to heal in a shorter space of time.
5. Creating natural deodorant protection
When you sweat, bacteria on your skin combines with the secretions from your sweat glands to create an odour that can vary from moderate to strong.
If you are not a fan of using chemical-based deodorants and antiperspirants that can sometimes irritate the skin, making your own natural deodorant could be an option.
The antibacterial properties found in tea tree oil can help to manage the interaction between sweat and bacteria in the same way as a commercial deodorant.
At the same time, the oil’s fragrance creates a scent barrier to leave the skin smelling and feeling fresh.
6. Keeping insects at bay
As we mentioned above when discussing tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, the oil can also be very effective as an insect repellent.
An animal-based study found that tea tree essential oil was able to reduce the number of flies attracted to cows that had been treated with it.
You could also use a tea tree to create a natural barrier against mosquitos.
Results produced by a test-tube study found that it was able to repel mosquitos at a higher rate than DEET – which most commercial insect repellents use as their main active ingredient.
7. Using as a natural mouthwash
When it comes to combating bad breath and tooth decay, you could find a reliable ally in tea tree oil.
In fact, one study produced results that stated it could be more effective than chlorhexidine, which is commonly used in mouthwashes, whilst the taste left in the mouth was more favourable.
And it can also be used to reduce the inflammation of gingivitis, according to a study conducted in 2020.
You can make your own tea tree oil mouthwash by mixing a single drop of the oil with a cup of warm water and using it to wash around your mouth for about 30 seconds, before depositing the fluid back into the sink.
Please note that Nikura do not sell food-grade essential oils and you should not try this with our oils.
8. Keeping hands bacteria and virus free
You can also make your own natural hand sanitiser using tea tree oil, which according to research, can help to disinfect the skin, whilst also killing bacteria without the use of antibiotics.
Other viruses and bacteria, such as E. coli, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae can also be killed by using tea tree oil on your hands.
9. Protecting nails against fungal growth
It’s not uncommon for people to have to deal with fungal nail infections, especially during the colder, wetter months of the year as moisture levels grow.
Research has shown that tea tree essential oil can help to remove fungus when used with other medications or as a standalone treatment, whilst also producing fewer side effects.
One study compared the effectiveness of tea tree oil to traditional antifungal medications for a 6-month period. Results revealed that full or partial clearance of the fungus was experienced by 60% of people in each group.
10. Sanitising and cleanse surfaces
Many people also use tea tree essential oil as an all-purpose cleaner to keep surfaces sanitised. However, unlike traditional commercial cleaning products, it does not leave chemical traces behind, making it safer for children and pets to interact with.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make a homemade tea tree all-purpose cleaners. Use ¾ cup of water, with 20 drops of tea tree oil and ½ cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass spray bottle.
Once you’ve replaced the cap, give the bottle a good shake and spray onto surfaces to clean as usual.
How to use tea tree oil
1. As a natural dandruff remedy
Mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with your regular shampoo and use as normal. You can also use this to reduce cradle cap in children older than 6 months. Dilute 2 drops of the oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil and apply to the affected area of the scalp.
2. To manage oily skin
If you suffer from oily skin, there is a simple recipe you can try to make things more manageable. Take your favourite moisturiser or toner and add a few drops of tea tree oil and apply as usual. To make a face mask, mix two drops of tea tree essential oil with bentonite clay.
History of tea tree oil
Tea tree essential oil is extracted from the Melaleuca plant, which is native to Australia, usually growing in environments where most plants struggle to thrive.
The indigenous people of Australia used crushed leaves from the plant to treat colds, coughs and sore throats, along with a variety of skin conditions, minor wounds, stings and bug bites.
Modern, commercial use of tea tree essential oil began in the 1920s, although the first cosmetic product using it was invented in 1904 (although it was only made available to the public in 1976).
Today, tea tree oil benefits and treats a wealth of ailments, offering a natural alternative to chemical-based products.
Tea Tree Oil FAQs
Do I need to dilute tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is very highly concentrated, so ideally adults should dilute it to a 2% ratio to reduce the chances of experiencing an allergic reaction.
If you are a first-time user, it is always a good idea to complete a patch test to ensure it is compatible.
Can I diffuse tea tree oil?
Tea tree essential oil can be enjoyed using an oil burner, wood diffuser or ultrasonic diffuser, with the hydrocarbons aiding its skin absorption.
You do not need to dilute the oil when it is being diffused as it is not coming into direct contact with the skin.
Other ways to enjoy tea tree oil is includes candles, wax melts and soaps.
What are the risks of tea tree oil?
Most people will not experience any issues when using tea tree oil topically.
However, if you have sensitive skin or an allergy to any of the oil’s components, it can cause skin irritation, allergic skin rashes, itching, dryness, redness or burning.
|100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil|
|Botanical Name||Melaleuca Alternifolia|
|Benefits & Uses||Decongestant, Skin, Antibacterial|
|Suitable for Diffusers?||Yes, this tea tree essential oil is perfect for diffusers.|
|Suitable for Candles and Soaps?||Yes, this tea tree essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.|
|Extraction Method||Steam Distillation|
|Bottle Type||Tamper proof and UV resistant|