Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree, is one of the most widely-used homeopathic antiseptics. The oil from the tea tree is helpful to treat stings, wounds, burns, and a variety of skin infections. It is also used as an antibacterial, an antifungal, and an antiviral. It is native to Australia and has been used as medicinal treatments for centuries by the Aborigines. Research has been conducted on its therapeutic properties, making it popular across Australia, Europe, and North America.
An evergreen, melaleuca alternifolia can grow to 22 feet (6.7 m) tall. It has layer upon layer of paper-like bark. The leaves are pointed and have a strong aroma when they are crushed. They have a large quantity of antiseptic, volatile oil and are often used in making preparations for skin infections. In addition, the tree often has white flowers that look like wispy spikes.
The Aborigine people of Australia used melaleuca to treat coughs, colds, and infections of the skin. They typically crushed the leaves. Then, they would smoke the leaves or brew them into a tea-like infusion.
The antiseptic properties of melaleuca alternifolia are well researched and established. In clinical trials, it has been proven to treat a wide range of infections. For example, it can be used as a suppository, or the oil can be soaked on a tampon to treat vaginal yeast infections. It is also widely used for skin problems. For example, the oil from melaleuca alternifolia can be mixed with cream and then may be used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, warts, corns, boils, and ringworm.
People with more serious ailments may benefit from using melaleuca alternifolia as well. For example, if taken internally, it may treat cystitis, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and mononucleosis. If it is used as a mouthwash, it may treat gum disease and even sore throats. Internal use should only occur under the supervision of a professional homeopathic remedy practitioner, as it may decrease immune function, cause diarrhea, and damage the central nervous system.
There are other side effects that have been reported from people using melaleuca alternifolia. There are several reports that indicate it may change hormone levels. In fact, there have been a few case reports where tea tree oil caused enlarged breast in boys. Consequently, people suffering from hormone-sensitive ailments and women who are pregnant or who are nursing should avoid using it. In addition, people who are allergic to tea tree oil may break out in a rash, blisters, or dermatitis.