Tea tree oil (TTO), also known as melaleuca oil, is made from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. It is usually clear to very pale golden in color and has a fresh, camphor-like scent. The oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant’s twigs and leaves.
It is referred to as a ‘medicine cabinet in a bottle’, and in fact, several studies have confirmed that TTO has tremendous medicinal benefits. It helps heal a variety of problems ranging from acne to lung congestion.
Its health benefits can be attributed to its natural antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, expectorant and antiviral properties.
1. Treats Acne
Tea tree oil is a popular treatment for acne. This natural antiseptic disinfects the pores as well as kills the bacteria that cause acne.
According to a 2007 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, topical application of 5 percent TTO gel is effective in treating mild to moderate acne vulgaris.
- Put 1 drop of TTO on a moistened cotton swab and dab it gently on the affected area before going to bed. The next morning, rinse your face with lukewarm water. Repeat daily.
- Alternatively, prepare a face mask with 4 or 5 drops of TTO and 1 teaspoon of raw, organic honey. Apply this mixture on the affected area. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with water. Use this face mask once a week to keep your skin acne-free.
2. Fights Toenail Fungus
Tea tree oil can treat toenail fungus, thanks to its antifungal as well as antiseptic properties. It can help kill the fungus and relieve symptoms, such as inflammation, swelling, yellowing, or thickening of the nail.
- Apply 1 or 2 drops of TTO directly on the infected toenail. Rub it gently around the nail. Repeat once daily until the infection is cleared.
- You can also put 3 or 4 drops of TTO in a small tub filled with lukewarm water, soak your feet in it for 15 minutes, then pat dry thoroughly.
Use this treatment once daily.
TTO is even effective at treating athlete’s foot and ringworm.
3. Treats Dandruff
Tea tree oil a good treatment for dandruff, thanks to its strong antifungal properties. It can even reduce symptoms like itchy and dry scalp.
According to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, shampoo with 5 percent TTO is effective in the treatment of dandruff. It has antifungal properties with activity against the yeast Pityrosporum ovale, which causes dandruff.
- Use a shampoo with 5 percent TTO to wash your hair 1 or 2 times a week.
- Another option is to mix 1 or 2 drops of TTO per ounce of your regular shampoo, then use it to wash your hair 1 or 2 times a week.
4. Heals Boils
Because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is a wise choice for treating boils. This essential oil heals boils quickly and protects them from infections. In addition, it helps reduce scarring and skin spots left by boils.
- Put a few drops of TTO on a clean cotton swab.
- Gently dab it directly on the boil.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times a day for several days until the boil is gone.
5. Treats Warts
You can use tea tree oil to treat warts, the small bumps caused by a viral infection in the skin’s top layer. Its antiviral and antiseptic qualities help fight the virus and eliminate the warts.
A 2008 study published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice journal highlights the potential use of TTO in the treatment of common warts due to human papilloma virus.
- Mix 4 or 5 drops of TTO in 1 tablespoon of almond or olive oil.
- Apply this mixture on the affected areas.
- Leave it on for a couple of hours, then rinse it off with warm water.
- Repeat once or twice daily for a few weeks.
TTO is even effective at treating genital warts.