Top Tea Tree Oil Benefits and Uses

Top Tea Tree Oil Benefits and Uses

The popularity of essential oils has been on the increase over the years. The use of tea tree oil in a variety of home and cosmetic products, which also includes disinfectant sprays, laundry detergents, shampoos, creams for the nails and skin, face washes, and even massage oils, makes it a popular ingredient. It’s natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties makes it one of the most valued essential oils that one could own.

The small tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, called the Melaleuca alternifolia, produces tea tree oil from the leaves. For over 100 years and the last seven decades, tea tree oil has been used throughout Australia and been documented in many medical studies for its ability to neutralize and kill many strains of viruses, fungi and bacteria.

Because of its well-known powerful antiseptic properties with the ability to treat wounds, tea tree oil is one of the top antibacterial essential oils. Although its uses are numerous, tea tree oil diffused has the capability to kill toxic mold that is growing in your home, apply topically to heal skin issues and aid in the healing of skin infections. There are even recipes for homemade acne recipe and many other recipes that have become part of my natural medicine cabinet. (1)

So, what is Tea Tree Oil?

An ever increasingly popular essential oil is tea tree oil which comes from the Australian plant Melaneuca alternifolia. This plant is part of the Myrtacaea family which has approximately 230 different plant species, almost all of them are native to Australia, however I have found other locations including a plantation in Brazil. They extract the oil from the leaves by steam distillation.

The primary active ingredient found in tea tree oil is terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, and associated alcohols. These volatile, aromatic compounds are what gives tea tree it’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and antifungal ability. With over 100 different chemical components of tea tree oil, the most active is terpinen-4-ol with concentrations that vary in range. These concentrations are capable of disseminating in air, through the pores of your skin and mucous membranes. This is why tea tree oil is most commonly used topically to kill germs, fight infections, soothe skin irritations and aromatically. (2)

Commonly used to treat infections, tea tree oil (or TTO) is an ingredient in several concentrations and widely touted as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent in Europe, Australia, and North America. You will also find TTO in cosmetic and household products. Examples include nail and skin creams, shampoos, laundry detergents, cleaning products, and even massage oils. You may be wondering what tea tree oil is good for? As one of the most popular essential oils, it is gentle enough to apply diffused topically to fight skin irritations and infections as works as a powerful disinfectant. (3)

15 Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

  1. Improve Dry Scalp. Studies show that tea tree oil has the ability to improve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, which is commonly known as dandruff, a skin condition that causes scaly patches on the scalp and produces dry flakes. It has also shown to help the symptoms of contact dermatitis.
    • In the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, a human study published in 2002 studied the efficacy of 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo and a placebo in patients with mild to moderate dandruff. Following a four-week treatment period, the participants in the tea tree group showed a 41 percent improvement in the severity of their dandruff while only 11 percent of those in the placebo group showed improvements. An improvement in the patient’s itchiness and greasiness after using tea tree oil shampoo was also indicated by the researchers. (4)
  2. Soothe Skin Irritations. Even though research is a bit limited in this area, the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil make it a useful tool for the symptoms of skin irritations and wounds and calm the area.
    • A pilot research study demonstrated evidence that after being treated with tea tree oil, the patient wounds had begun to heal and reduced in size. (5)
    • Tea tree oil’s ability to treat infected chronic wounds have also been documented in case studies. (6)
    • Reducing inflammation, combating skin or wound infections and reducing would size may also be effective with tea tree oil. To utilize tea tree oil and use it to soothe sunburns, insect bites and sores, test on a small area of skin first to rule out any sensitivity to that topical application.
  3. Fight Acne and Other Skin Conditions. Because of tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it is possible it would work as a natural remedy for acne and other skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
    • Australia conducted a recent pilot study in 2017 to evaluate the efficacy of tea tree oil gel compared to a face wash without tea tree for treating subjects with mild to moderate acne on the face. The tea tree group participants applied oil to their faces two times a day during a 12-week period. During that time, those using the tea tree had significantly fewer acne lesions compared to those using just the face wash. No serious reactions were reported, but they had some minor effects like dryness, scaling, and peeling and all were resolved without any intervention. (7)
  4. May Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance. Tea tree and oregano oil are two essential oils that are being used to replace or used alongside conventional medications because they act as powerful antibacterial agents to power up the body without all the adverse side effects.
    • The Open Microbiology Journal recently published research that indicates some essential oils, like tea tree oil, that have shown a positive synergistic effect when they are combined with traditional antibiotics. According to researchers, they are optimistic that essential oils may help prevent antibiotic resistance from developing. This is exceedingly important in today’s modern medicine because antibiotic resistance could lead to increased healthcare costs, treatment failure and the spread of infection control issues. (8)
  5. Fight Viral, Bacterial and Fungal Infections. Published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews, there is a scientific review on tea tree oil which the data shows the broad-spectrum activity of the oil due to its antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. What does this mean? Well, this means that, in theory, tea tree oil can be used to combat many different infections anywhere from athlete’s foot to MRSA. The benefits of tea tree oil are still being evaluated by researchers but they have been shown in some anecdotal reports, lab studies, and human studies.
    • Tea tree oil has been shown in lab studies to inhibit bacterial growth like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Serious infections are caused by these bacteria such as respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, strep throat, sinus infections, and impetigo. (9)
    • With tea tree oil’s antifungal properties, it may have the capability to prevent or fight fungal infections like athlete’s foot, candida, jock itch, and toenail fungus. (10)
    • The efficacy of tea tree oil in the treatment of athlete’s foot was conducted in a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study in Australia. The participants in the study either received a 25 percent tea tree oil solution, a 50 percent tea tree oil solution or a placebo. The instructions were to apply the solution twice a day to the affected areas for a period of four weeks.
    • The researchers recorded a marked clinical response in 68 percent of the tea tree group (50 percent TTO), 72 percent for the 25 percent tea tree group and 39 percent in the placebo group. Out of the 158 participants that took part in the study, four reported moderate to severe skin reactions to the treatment that improved quickly after they stopped using the solution. (11)
    • Studies conducted in the lab have shown that tea tree oil has the ability to fight recurrent herpes virus, the one that causes cold sores, as well as influenza. One of the main active components responsible for the antiviral activity of tea tree oil has been attributed to the presence of terpinen-4-ol. (12)
    • So, now you might be wondering about warts. Well, a case study in 2008 reported on a pediatric patient’s middle finger and after applying topically to a wart once a day, had completely disappeared after twelve days of application. This demonstrates tea tree oil’s antiviral capacity. (13)
  6. Aid Treatment of Head Lice. With useful properties of insecticidal effects, tea tree oil can be used to help with the removal of head lice. Head lice are small, parasitic insects that feed on human blood and is a social problem in both developed and underdeveloped countries. A study from Central Italy, published in 2012, investigated the efficacy of two natural substances, tea tree oil and nerolidol against lice and its eggs. Used alone and in combination with nerolidol, tea tree oil was tested at different ratios and evaluated against 69 head lice and 187 eggs over a 6 month period.
    • The research concluded that tea tree oil alone was more effective against head lice which included a 100 percent mortality rate at just 30 minutes of exposure. Using a higher concentration of tea tree oil, they were able to activate the failure of 50 percent of the eggs to hatch. When nerolidol was combined with tea tree oil at a 2:1 ratio, the two concentrations caused the death of all head lice within 30 minutes and the abortive effect of the eggs after five days of the treatment. (14)
  7. Alleviate Congestion and Respiratory Tract Infections. Early on, they look the leaves from the melaleuca plant and crushed them and then inhaled to treat colds and coughs. Historically, the leaves were also soaked to create a compound that could be used to treat sore throats.
    • Studies today have demonstrated tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties which give it the ability and strength to fight bacteria that leads to nasty respiratory tract infections. This antiviral activity is helpful for fighting and possibly preventing congestion and coughs as well as the common cold. These two main properties are specifically why tea tree is one of the top essential oils for cough and respiratory issues. (15)
  8. Improve Bad Breath. There are bacteria in your mouth, especially located at the back of your tongue, throat, and tonsils that cause bad breath. Since tea tree oil can kill this bacteria with its antimicrobial properties, it is a wonderful natural bad breath remedy.
    • A study designed to find out the minimum bactericidal concentrations against oral pathogens revealed that tea tree oil does perform as an effective antiseptic agent against those pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, methicillin-resistant, and Staphylococcus aureus. This important benefit of tea tree oil may be exceptionally important after any oral surgery, like a root canal, which may increase your risk of developing a fungal or bacterial infection. (16)
    • Tea tree oil should not be used internally. Just remember, if you are using it as a mouthwash to kill germs orally, be sure to spit it out afterward and rinse your mouth with water.
  9. Help Treat Scabies. First of all, what is scabies? Let’s be clear it is not an infection, but an infestation of tiny mites in the outer layers of the skin. It can lead to unrelenting itching and a nasty rash. According to a study at Flinders University in Australia, they found that 5 percent tea tree oil and its active component terpinen-4-ol were extremely effective in the reduction of scabies mite survival. So, yes, tea tree oil works as a natural remedy to help the removal of scabies on top and beneath the skin because of its antimicrobial properties. (17)

Top 15 Tea Tree Oil Uses

Instead of dangerous chemicals, tea tree oil can be used to make natural health, beauty and cleaning products.. Tea tree oil can be used in the following ways:

  • Aromatically: Tea tree oil can be diffused throughout the home by using an oil diffuser. It can also be inhaled directly by sniffing it right out of the bottle.
  • Topically: You may apply tea tree oil to the skin topically, but always dilute it with a carrier oil (almond or coconut oil) in a 1:1 ratio before applying to the skin.
  • NOT for Internally Use: According to The National Capital Poison Center, tea tree oil is poisonous if swallowed. Therefore, tea tree oil should NOT be taken by mouth for any reason. Tea tree oil is irritating to some people and should always be used according to label instructions and stored safely in their original containers and out of the reach of children set apart from medicines and food. (18)

The following are some of the basic ways you can use tea tree oil at home to transform your health.

Tee Tree Oil to Improve Eczema and Psoriasis

To help with the symptoms of these autoimmune conditions, tea tree oil can be used as a natural eczema treatment and for reducing psoriasis. Combine five drops of tea tree oil and five drops of lavender oil and mix with one teaspoon of coconut oil to make your own body soap or lotion to improve your skin.

Tea Tree Oil to Fight Acne

Tea tree oil is a powerful agent and one of the most common uses today in products of skin care products. To make a homemade gentle tea tree oil face wash for acne mix two teaspoons of raw honey with five drops of pure tea tree oil. Then, gently rub the mixture around the face and let it sit for one minute. Rinse off the mixture with warm water.

Tea Tree Oil to Treat for Lice

To naturally get rid of lice, mix one teaspoon each of tea tree and ylang ylang oils with three tablespoons of coconut oil. Spread this mixture all over the scalp while massaging it in thoroughly. Comb through the hair with a fine tooth comb and cover the head with a shower cap and let it sit for two hours. Afterward, comb through the hair again and rinse out the oils.

The next step is to combine 1 cup of water with 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. Pour into a spray bottle and apply the mixture to the hair until it is completely saturated. Rinse out the hair and comb it through again. For the last step, apply a light application of coconut oil and leave it in. although tedious, this process should be repeated every 5 to 10 days for a couple of weeks to kill all the lice and eggs. Continue to comb through the hair with a fine tooth comb using coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner.

Tea Tree Oil to Boost Hair Health

For the health of your hair and scalp, tea tree oil has proven to be very beneficial. Similar to coconut oil for your hair, tea tree has the capacity to soothe the dry, flaky scalp and remove dandruff. Combine several ingredients and you have a homemade tea tree oil shampoo. Mix several drops of tea tree essential oil with coconut milk, aloe vera gel, and other essential oils such as lavender oil.

Tea Tree Oil to Freshen Laundry

With tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties, it works wonderfully as a natural way to freshen your laundry even when the laundry is moldy or musty. Directly add five to ten drops of tea tree oil to your liquid laundry detergent. Cloth, rugs or athletic equipment can also be spotted for freshness by mixing vinegar, water, and tea tree oil.

Tea Tree Oil to Use as All-Purpose Natural Household Cleaner

To make a great all-purpose cleaner with tea tree oil’s powerful antimicrobial activity that can kill the bad bacteria in your home, simply begin with a spray bottle. Then, mix 5-10 drops of tea tree with water, vinegar and add 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil. You will use it on kitchen appliances, countertops, shower, toilet, and sinks.

Other homemade bathroom cleaner recipes are made with a combination of a variety of natural cleaning products include liquid castile soap, lemon juice, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar.

Tea Tree Oil to Help Foot Odor

The antibacterial activity of tea tree oil is super beneficial if you are facing stinky feet in your household or a funky smell in your shoes. For that nasty foot odor, mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with a half teaspoon of coconut oil and massage or rub that mixture into your feet.

Another recipe you might want to try is an exfoliating foot scrub to leave your feet odor-free and smoothe. Combine 1 cup sea salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 5 drops each tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and lavender essential oil. Place the sea salt in a glass bowl and mix in the olive and coconut oil. Blend with a fork or spoon. Next, add all three oils and combine ingredients together. Transfer into a jar with a tight lid and store in a cool, dark place. Using a spoon, scoop a small amount of mixture into your hand and scrub the mixture onto your feet. To maximize the benefits of the scrub, leave on for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water and pat dry.

To remove odor in your shoes, fill a spray bottle about half-way with water and add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil. Spray the inside of your shoes. This may also be sprayed on athletic or sports equipment as well.

Tea Tree Oil to Combat Toenail Fungus and Ringworm

Tea tree oil is an excellent option to use on athlete’s foot, nail fungus (onychomycosis) and ringworm because of its ability to kill parasites and fungal infections. Grab a cotton swab and place 2-5 drops of undiluted tea tree oil on the swab placing on the affected area. If you have stubborn fungi, use tea tree oil with natural antifungal oil of oregano. Since tea tree oil has also been proven for treating and removing warts, simply put a few drops of tea tree oil directly on the area for 30 days once or twice daily

Tea Tree Oil as a Natural DIY Deodorant

Tea tree oil is another great reason to use to eliminate body odor because it has antimicrobial properties. It can be used to help destroy the bacteria on your skin that causes body odor. For a homemade tea tree oil deodorant, start by combining coconut oil and baking soda and adding a few drops of the oil.

Tea Tree Oil to Destroy and Kill Mold

Many people experience mold infestation in their homes and some are not even aware they have it. People may even begin to experience the symptoms of exposure to black mold which is a toxin. To combat and prevent this toxin, consider purchasing a diffuser and adding tea tree oil to add to the air around your home to kill mold and other bacteria. By using the tea tree all-purpose cleaner, you can spray shower curtains, inside your laundry machine, dishwasher or even your toilet to kill off bacteria and mold.

Tea Tree Oil to Repel Insects

Tea tree oil can be used as a natural insect repellent and it also helps to soothe nasty bug bites. Since traditional bug repellents usually contain toxic chemicals, using a natural option like tea tree oil is safer and gentler on your skin.

Fill a bottle half-way with water and add 2-5 drops of tea tree oil and use it to spray your skin. You can also combine 2-5 drops of tea tree with coconut oil, about a teaspoon and rub that onto your skin before heading outside. Once you have a bug bite, grab a cotton ball and apply 2-3 drops onto the ball and administer to the affected area.

Tea Tree Oil as Hand Sanitizer

Studies have shown tea tree oil makes an ideal natural hand sanitizer. Since it has been shown to kill several common bacteria and viruses responsible for causing illness, including E. coli, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae. (19)

Tea Tree Oil as Natural Toothpaste for Oral Health

The natural ability of tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties to kill off bacteria at the same time as soothing inflamed skin, it makes an excellent ingredient in homemade toothpaste and mouthwash. It may also help in reducing tooth decay and gum bleeding. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with baking soda and coconut oil to help get rid of bad breath and improve your oral health

Tea Tree Oil to Protect Cuts and Wounds

As in the previous options, tea tree oil is a splendid ingredient to make a homemade wound ointment since it contains it’s naturally antibacterial and antifungal properties. Once the wound is clean using water and hydrogen peroxide, place 1-3 drops of tea tree oil and cover it with a bandage to help fight off infections.

Tea Tree Oil as Cough Reliever

To use tea tree oil for a cough caused by the common cold or other respiratory condition, add 5 drops to your infuser, inhale directly from the tea tree oil bottle or combine a half teaspoon coconut oil with 1-2 drops of tea tree and rub the mixture into your chest and the back of your neck and throat.

About the author

Raeann Cain

Hi, I'm Raeann and over 20 years ago I had a terrible experience with low back pain that left me rolling out of bed, crawling on my hands and knees to the bathtub. I could not even stand up because I was in so much pain! After meeting a neurosurgeon who thought I was too young for surgery, he sent me on another path with alternative methods. Now, through many hours of training including pain science, neuroscience, and following the latest evidence-based methods of therapy, it is time to give the power back to the individual who is hurting and give them the truth on how the body heals!