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18 October 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Tea Tree Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Learn all about this healing oil and its diverse array of benefits. 

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Cup of tea within Tea Tree leaves

From fighting infections to preventing bad breath, tea tree is an incredibly versatile oil. 

Known for its strong tangy and herbaceous scent, tea tree essential oil is often referred to as ‘a medicine cabinet in a bottle’, and has become a staple ingredient in many detergents, disinfectants, shampoos, massage oils, and skin creams, among other body products.

Traditionally used for medicinal purposes, tea tree oil is most famous for its dense production of volatile terpene hydrocarbons.

Though this may sound complicated, all these hydrocarbons do is help the scent of the oil travel through the air and journey into the pores of the skin, giving tea tree oil the unique ability to treat internal ailments aromatically.  

In fact, it’s so effective that recent research has begun to question whether tea tree oil could eventually play a role in replacing certain medications altogether.Illustration of Tea Tree leaves

What is Tea Tree Essential Oil?

Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree oil, is a fresh and herby oil derived from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. This small plant is native to Queensland and New South Wales, and can sometimes be confused with a similar tree used for producing herbal teas.

Tea tree essential oil can range from a pale yellow in colour to almost completely colourless. Like several other essential oils derived from leaves, tea tree oil is extracted via steam distillation, which involves separating the oil from its plant material using hot steam.

Its strong and distinctive scent makes tea tree instantly recognisable, particularly in medicines, shampoos and skincare products where the use of tea tree is most common.

The health benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree carries a host of benefits for several common bodily ailments, including:

  • Infection
  • Acne and other skin conditions
  • Congestion
  • Bad breath
  • Wounds
  • Dry scalp and dandruff
  • Body odour
  • Headlice

Tea tree oil can be used to treat infections

Over the years, there’s been a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that tea tree essential oil is effective against a wide range of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. These claims are beginning to be backed up by scientific research.

 of the antimicrobial abilities of tea tree oil conducted in 2002 found that it could potentially be used to fight against a number of common infections in different regions of the body.

This includes conditions like strep throat, toenail fungus, and MRSA. Another observed that tea tree oil was also able to relieve symptoms of athlete’s foot when tested against a placebo among a group of 158 people.

Further studies have shown tea tree oil to have an impact on  and 

The amazing antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal effects of tea tree oil are attributed to the antimicrobial properties of terpinene-4-ol, one of tea tree oil’s main active components.

The antibacterial effect of tea tree oil is especially promising because, unlike antibiotics, tea tree oil can attack infections without any risk of building antibiotic resistance.

    Amber Glass bottle with Tea Tree leaf

    Does tea tree oil help acne and bad skin?

     tested the effect of tea tree face wash on acne and found that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects were able to reduce the appearance of acne on the skin.

    It has also been known to help relieve outbreaks of clinical psoriasis on the skin, confirming the anti-inflammatory presence of terpinene-4-ol as a novel agent against the condition.

    Tea tree essential oil can be used to soothe sunburn, sores, and insect bites – however, it should always be patch tested on the skin first, as it can cause irritation in some cases.

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    Is tea tree good for congestion?

    The leaves of the melaleuca plant (from which tea tree oil is extracted) have been crushed and inhaled to treat congestion for centuries.

    This is because of tea tree The antimicrobial activity present in the vapours of the oil allows it to fight bacteria that lead to respiratory tract infections. This same activity also helps to clear sinuses and allow for easy breath flow.  

    To this day, tea tree oil remains one of the most popular oils for relieving cough and cold symptoms.

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    Tea tree essential oil for bad breath

    Tea tree oil has also been known to help attack bacteria at the back of the tongue, throat, and tonsils. Oral application of the oil is thus said to help eliminate the main causes of bad breath and

    Using tea tree oil in this way can be especially helpful after oral surgery, such as a root canal, to prevent a bacterial infection.

    Oil pulling – a process in which a few drops of tea tree oil are mixed with a vegetable carrier oil and swilled around the mouth – is the best way to feel these effects.

    It is important not to swallow any of the oil, as tea tree oil can be toxic if ingested and should never be taken internally.

    Tea tree essential oil can also function as a chemical-free mouthwash, with one  considering it an effective treatment against gingivitis and other oral inflammations.

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    Can you use tea tree to treat an open wound?

    Due to tea tree oil’s strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it can be very effective in speeding up the process of wound healing.

    Tea tree is also said to help

    Simply add a few drops of (diluted) tea tree essential oil to the wound dressing after every new application.

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    Does tea tee oil help with dandruff?

    Extending from this oil’s abilities against skin conditions, tea-tree oil has also been shown to have a positive effect on dry skin, especially itchy scalps.

    Tea tree essential oil is a common ingredient in several anti-dandruff shampoos as a result of these soothing abilities, which were assessed with great success in a Yin Yang Icon

    Using tea tree essential oil to combat head lice

    There is initial research to suggest that tea tree oil used on the scalp is effective against headlice – a  found that tea tree oil killed one hundred percent of headlice and destroyed fifty percent of their eggs.

    In fact, tea tree oil is considered to be a highly effective insect repellent in general too, with studies successfully discovering its resistant effects against and

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    What’s the difference between tea tree oil and lemon tea tree oil?

    Though they may have very similar names, tea tree and lemon tea tree are in fact completely different plants.

    They do, however, come from the same aromatic family, and are both native to Australia and its surrounding regions.

    Both oils share very similar benefits for the body, so lemon tea tree is a good alternative if you prefer a more citrusy scent.

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    How to use Tea Tree Essential Oil


    Combine 5-7 drops of the oil with water and add to an oil burner or diffuser for a refreshing, herby scent.

    Alternatively, you can simply hold a bottle of tea tree essential oil to your nose and inhale.

    Add a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball for on-the-go aromatherapy and congestion relief.


    Dilute 5 drops to 10ml of carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba oil) and massage evenly into the skin.

    Tea tree oil is known to help detox the body and soothe any inflamed or uncomfortable areas. Massage into the affected area for efficient, cleansing relief.

    even discovered the powerful effects of a tea tree oil massage for preventing infection to the feet.

    Regularly massaging tea tree oil into the skin with a carrier oil is therefore said to be a hygienic and preventative practice.

    We always advise to perform a patch test before using tea tree essential oil on the skin.


    Add 6-8 drops to warm bathwater for a restorative and cleansing experience.

    Using tea tree essential oil in the bath is particularly useful for relieving respiratory issues including coughs, colds, and flus.

    Its naturally antiseptic properties can also help soothe aches for added relaxation.


    Add a couple of drops to a carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba oil) or your chosen lotion and spread evenly, or on affected areas.

    We always advise performing a patch test before using tea tree essential oil on the skin.

    Soap & Candles 

    Suitable for soap making and candle making. We recommend following a tested recipe.

    Looking for creative ways to use your tea tree essential oil? Discover a number of fun candle and soap recipes in our Make at Home blog section.

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    History of Tea Tree Essential Oil

    The melaleuca plant from which tea tree oil is extracted was grown for its healing properties all the way back in aboriginal times, when indigenous Australians would use it to treat coughs, colds, and skin conditions.

    Over the last several hundred years, tea tree oil has been transported across oceans and into warzones due to its powerful antibacterial effects.

    Nowadays it makes a useful addition to a medicine cabinet or household cleaning kit, although we may see its use in pharmaceuticals rise in the years to come.

    Tea Tree Illustration

    Shop our tea tree essential oil here.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Melaleuca Alternifolia
    Scent Type Fresh
    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

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