Tea tree oil – nature’s healer

Aborigines have recognised its healing qualities for hundreds of years, it’s natural and it can heal cuts and burns, boils and warts, athlete’s foot and thrush, and boost the immune system. It is antiseptic, a fungicide, fights bacteria and viruses, has anti-inflammatory qualities, expectorant and balsamic characteristics. It is a natural household disinfectant and insecticide and can even be used as a household cleaner.

Research has discovered that tea tree oil can prevent the antibiotic resistant so-called superbug which affects patients in hospital, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Trials are currently being carried out in Australia to prove its effectiveness in fighting the superbug, and it has already been proven fight candida, acne, boils, athlete’s foot, cold sores and veruccas.

Tea tree oil, distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant found in Australia, is a complex chemical substance made up of almost 50 chemical compounds. The oil is pale yellow and has a pungent medicinal smell, which does not lend it to use as a fragrance.

The tea tree plant is a spindly shrub with soft, bright green needle-like leaves, and tiny cream or yellow flowers. It is native to swampy areas of New South Wales, but as demand has grown more plantations have been cultivated in the same part of Australia. As the healing properties of tea tree oil become more and more recognised, it is fast becoming a massive industry.

While Australia is at the forefront of this industry, other countries who have begun to produce the plant include Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and Ecuador.

Where tea tree got its name

The Melaleuca alternifolia plant was traditionally used by Aborigines to treat cuts, wounds and skin infections, by making mud packs with the crushed up leaves. The name ‘tea tree’ emanated from Captain Cook and the crew of HMS Endeavour who landed in Australia in 1770, picked the aromatic leaves to make a spicy and refreshing cup of tea and even brew their own beer!

As early as 1923 clinical trials in Australia proved that tea tree oil had antiseptic and bactericidal properties, and was 13 times as effective as carbolic which was the standard at that time. Its diverse healing qualities made it standard issue in the first aid kits in the Australian Army and Navy during World War II. However, after the war the advent of antibiotics and other man-made drugs meant that tea tree oil, like other natural remedies, was largely overlooked.

What it heals

Dissatisfaction with the side-effects of 20th century drugs set in during the 1970s and tea tree oil became popular again, but mainly in Australia. Nowadays the average Aussie household has a bottle of tea tree oil in their medicine cabinet and the rest of us are waking up to its amazing qualities.

There are many applications for tea tree oil. Taken as a mouthwash it can eliminate bad breath, gingivitis and mouth ulcers, and used as a gargle in warm water it soothes sore throats. It can be applied neat on burns, bites, cold sores, spots and rashes, or it can be diluted in the bath or on a compress for sunburn, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.

An effective insect repellent when dabbed on the temples, ankles and wrists, tea tree oil can be put in a base oil and massage into the muscles to ease rheumatism and back ache. Its antiseptic properties prevent the spread of germs and used in an oil burner, it can be inhaled to protect people from flu and fever, while easing sleep and bronchial conditions.

Head lice

Young children frequently get headlice from school, and the rest of the family are likely to get them too. Lice thrive on clean hair and it has nothing to do with being dirty. To prevent and eliminate: add 5-10ml of tea tree oil per 100ml of unperfumed, pH balanced organic shampoo. Massage into the scalp for 10 minutes before rinsing. Use a special comb (available from chemists) to check if lice are present, and if so, repeat treatment every two to three days as the treatment will not kill the eggs and these need to have hatched to catch them.


There are several ways in which tea tree oil can help. Five drops of oil can be put into a bowl of boiling hot water and inhaled for five to ten minutes – if you can bear it that long. Put 8-10 drops in the bath to encourage the body to sweat, and go to bed straight after. Keep the bath cool if body temperature is high. At bedtime three drops of oil added to base oil can be massaged into the chest, back and throat and combined with other oils like eucalyptus and lavender.

Dermatitis and eczema

Mix 25 drops of tea tree oil into 100ml boiled water and apply twice a day when it has cooled. Take regular baths containing tea tree oil drops. It is important to do a patch test on the skin first. Dab some oil on to a healthy area of skin and leave for an hour to see if irritation occurs.

Soothing thrush

Some people put tea tree oil diluted on a tampon, or mixed with live yogurt on a tampon to relieve the symptoms of thrush. In the early 1980s Professor Paul Belaiche, Phytotherapy Dept. at the University of Paris carried out studies on 28 women suffering from thrush. They inserted vaginal tea tree capsules every evening for 30 days, after which 21 were completely cured and the other seven were clinically cured.

Safe for veruccas

Unlike salicyclic acid tea tree oil does not cause damage to ulcerated skin on the feet. It can be applied by people with veruccas without risk of hurting themselves. As it fights bacteria it also prevents the area around the verucca becoming affected.

Cautious purchasing

There is a long list of ingredients in pure tea tree oil but as a guide to consumers, the Australian standard laid down in 1985 requires a content of at least 30 per cent terpinen 4-ol and 15 per cent cineole. The bottle should bear the words Melaleuca alternifolia. It does not matter if it is diluted provided the essential oil is pure and adheres to these standards.

Tea tree products

Apart from the essential oil, tea tree products include: gel, cream, hand and body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, foot spray and powder, soap, pessaries, toothpaste, insect repellant, antiseptic creams, mouthwashes, throat lozenges, pet shampoo.

 Tea Tree Pure Oil Thursday Plantation 10ml £9.50
Tea Tree Head Lice Kit Thursday Plantation 125g £14.44
Tea Tree Hair Conditioner Thursday Plantation 200ml £11.14
Tea Tree Scalp Shampoo Thursday Plantation 200ml £11.14
Tea Tree Antiseptic Cream Thursday Plantation 100ml £11.24
Tea Tree Foot Spray Thursday Plantation 50ml £11.67
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