Tea Tree Oil is the extracted oil from Melaleuca altermifolia tree native to Australia. The oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves of the tree and has been used by Australian aborigines for several centuries. The tree is now grown all over the world for its medicinal properties. Its popularity is apparent as even most grocery stores carry small bottles of the oil. The strong smelling oil is greenish yellow in appearance and the scent resembles camphor.
This oil is reputed to be antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral. Research into the properties of tea tree oil has generally supported many of the claims made by its users. This research is being conducted on an international level and is looked at from a wide variety of uses and purposes. As an antifungal, tea tree oil has been used for years in the treatment of candidiasis, vaginal infections, athlete's foot, ringworm, and nail infections.
Many claim that the oil will lessen the symptoms of colds and flu, and can be used to treat sore throats and muscle aches. Tea tree oil can be added to the water in pools, hot tubs and spas to reportedly control bacteria. Many home remedies include adding the oil to a vaporizer to loosen chest congestion, adding a teaspoon to shampoo to destroy head lice, and adding it to a bath to remove persistent body odor.
Aromatherapy, an alternative to mainstream medicine, uses tea tree oil in a number of their recipes for colds, persistent coughs, acne, toothaches, pyorrhea and sunburns. Most aromatherapy practitioners include this oil in their top ten lists as a must have item in their first aid kits.
Many herbalists recommend using a tea tree oil spray in the garden to prevent mold, mildew and fungus from forming on plants and seedlings. This method works on houseplants as well. As it is non-toxic to humans and animals, its use as an antiseptic rinse on counters and cutting boards is often recommended as well.
As with all products, before using this oil directly on the skin, a patch test should be preformed. Using a cotton swab, users should apply a small amount to the inside of the wrist or the back of the leg. If no reaction to the oil is seen within a few hours, the oil is safe to use in any fashion desired.