If you're looking for a natural remedy for your cuts, burns, bites and more this summer, it’s worth considering stocking up on tea tree oil.
With a variety of medicinal uses, this all-natural substance has been used by the Australian Aboriginal people for years as a solution for many different conditions.
Luckily, in this day and age you don’t have to extract it yourself from the nearest tree as there are plenty of places you can find pure and natural tea tree oil.
If you haven’t yet heard all the buzz about this wonder product, here are some of the reasons why it’s becoming a favourite in many New Zealand households.
All about tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is obtained from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, which is a green leafy species native only to Australia and is commonly known as the Australian tea tree or Melaleuca tree.
As a natural product, the oil does have a relatively strong, earthy scent to it that smells a little like eucalyptus. The smell will not usually linger for long, but it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re planning to apply it before you go out for the day.
To harvest this precious oil from the Melaleuca tree, companies typically use a steam distillation method which is one of the oldest and most effective for leafy materials.
With this method, steam is directed over the dry material and the heat helps to release the essential oils stored within the plant matter.These molecules pass into the steam, which is then cooled carefully until it forms a liquid composed of essential oils and water.
The two are separated before the essential oil is packaged. This type of distillation causes the least amount of changes to the composition of the essential oil during the extraction process, which is why it is the most commonly used method.
Traditional and current human uses
Traditionally, the Aboriginal people used tea tree oil as an antiseptic treatment for various skin conditions. The tea tree leaves were crushed and applied to any cuts, burns or infections to help them heal.
Today, it continues to be used for a variety of health issues due to its natural anti-microbial properties and ability to fight various infections. In particular, studies have shown tea tree oil is effective in treating infections such as Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) or fungal infections of the toenails.
Its antiseptic properties have also helped in treating infected skin wounds, with a study from the University of Wolverhampton in England revealing a mixture of tea tree oil and silver helped to increase antimicrobial activity while also minimising side effects.
Tea tree oil has also been touted as a great acne-fighting ingredient, as it can aid in reducing inflamed pimples without some of the side effects of harsher chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide.
For those suffering sore throats, some evidence has suggested gargling a mixture of tea tree oil and warm water can help to soothe and alleviate symptoms.
Precautions to take
Tea tree oil can help with a range of skin issues and other health conditions, but it’s important to keep in mind that it can be toxic if swallowed.
For that reason, pure tea tree oil should never be ingested orally and should be spit back out if you’re using it as a rinse or mouthwash.
Aside from this, tea tree oil can be very effective with a topical application directly onto the affected area of skin. However, it can prompt allergic reactions in some people so it’s best to apply in small amounts and do a patch test first to see how your body reacts to it. If needed, you can also dilute your oil so it’s less potent.
As long as you’re careful about how you apply it, tea tree oil can be a wonderful product to keep handy in your medicine cabinet.
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