Tea tree oil, or melaleuca, is a type of oil that people have used for nearly 100 years to treat various health ailments.
From disinfectant sprays, shampoos, face washes, 4-terpineol eyelid cleansers and more, there are many different products available that offer individuals its various benefits and uses.
What Is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that comes from steam-distilled tea tree leaves. A tree found in Australia, the leaves of the melaleuca alternifolia plant contain numerous therapeutic ingredients, with the most common ones being terpinene-4-ol, γ-terpinene and α-terpinene.
Tea Tree Oil Benefits
To truly appreciate what these products have to offer, it is useful to understand what kind of tea tree oil benefits there are.
1. Fights Bacteria
One of the biggest benefits of tea tree oil is its antibacterial properties. For this reason, many people use tea tree oil to treat various skin problems. According to some research, the antibacterial properties may be due to the oil’s ability to attack bacteria cell walls; however, studies are ongoing.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Tea tree oil also can also be beneficial for reducing inflammation. In lab studies, results suggested that the terpinene-4-ol was able to suppress inflammation in mouth and eye infections. The oil has also shown promising effectiveness for reducing histamine-induced skin swelling.
3. Attacks Fungus
Tea tree oil also has the ability to kill a range of fungi and yeasts. There has been research focusing on skin, genital, throat and mouth infections where the oil has successfully eliminated fungal growth. Other studies suggest the terpinene-4-ol ingredient may also have the ability to enhance antifungal drugs such as fluconazole.
4. Acts Against Viruses
Another possible benefit of tea tree oil is its potential to help treat certain viruses. With that said, research is more limited in this area.
Tea Tree Oil Uses
Given the many beneficial properties of tea tree oil, companies and individuals have created a wide variety of products with it. Take a look at this list of popular tea tree oil uses but keep in mind that it is only a sample.
1. Hand Sanitizer
If you are looking for a natural hand sanitizer solution, tea tree oil works well. Because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, it is a great product for eliminating common germs found on the hands. It is also an effective way to kill bacteria without using harsh soaps or cleansers.
2. Eyelid Disinfectant
Tea tree oil has also shown promising effectiveness for treating eyelid diseases. During a 2016 study on individuals with blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction, results showed that tea tree oil was very effective in relieving symptoms of these eyelid diseases. Along with improving tear film stability, the oil also cleared up inflammatory eyelid signs.
3. Minor Cut and Scrape Antiseptic
Again thanks to its ability to fight bacterial, fungal and viral infections, many people use tea tree oil to help heal minor cuts and scrapes. In this way, the oil works as a natural antiseptic. Keep in mind that natural remedies such as tea tree oil may not be best for serious wounds.
4. Acne Cleanser
According to several studies, tea tree oil is also a powerful fighter against acne. Because some acne occurs due to bacteria that can be stubborn against traditional antibiotics, tea tree oil can work as a less common remedy that antibiotics have not built a resistance to.
5. Congestion and Respiratory Tract Relief
In the early history of medical tea tree leaf use, people used to inhale the crushed plant material to treat coughs and colds. Today, tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties give it the ability to fight against respiratory tract infections, congestion, coughs and the common cold.
Tea Tree Oil Safety
In general, most people can use tea tree oil topically without any issues; however, some individuals have contracted dermatitis and other skin irritations. You should never try to swallow tea tree oil because oral use can lead to problems. There is little research on its impact during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
With all of the benefits and uses in mind, there are many reasons to try tea tree oil. Before purchasing a tea tree oil product, however, take some time to learn more about 4-terpineol and other active ingredients to see how they may help you.