Tea tree is a shrub or small tree growing in Australia. It is a member of the family Myrtaceae. Its leaves are slender and looks like a needle. Nevertheless, it is not from the pine family as they flower. If you ever wonder why it is called Tea Tree even though it is not a Tea plant, this is the explanation; the aborigines used the leaves as 'tea' leaves and made infusion from them. Also, the leaves are also crushed and applied as poultice to wounds and sores. As this oil can be applied neat, no dilution is necessary but it is quite drying to the skin. According to Alan Tillotson in his book 'The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook” , it is wise to apply together with Olive Oil if the one utilising the oil is suffering from dry skin. As the old adage goes 'Moist when dry and dry when moist'” at least this is what he says.
The oil is extracted by steam distillation of the leaves. Its smell is strong, spicy and camphor-like. It is now used widely in producing hygiene products including germicides, gargles, toothpastes, etc.
The properties of Tea Tree Oil are antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal. In addition to this, it also stimulates the body's immune response against infection by activating white blood cells, which also partially responsible for its antiseptic property.
This means that it is also effective (highly) against influenza and other respiratory tract infection. For this purpose, steam inhalation is effective. For throat infection, use as a gargle by adding a few drops of oil in a cup of hot water and gargle. This is also good for ulcers and gingivitis. It is also effective for halitosis (for more of this, refer to the post Bad Mouthed Symptoms).
Try treating a variety of skin disease with this oil. Try facial steam with this oil if you are suffering from acne, pimples, spots and blemishes. Apply this to fungal infections such as ringworms, and athlete's foot. Also try it on wounds, and ulcers. I personally see the benefits of this oil in the treatment of diabetic patient as their wound are prone to slow healing. It is also effective against insect bites and minor burns.
Well, I also see that it is useful in its treatment against toe-nail fungus or any other type of nail fungus. Tape a cotton dabbed with Tea Tree oil and leave it overnight. Repeat twice a day and prolong treatment for one or two months or until heal. Also, try soaking your nail in Apple Cider Vinegar for 20 minutes before applying, this will help to soften your nail and help the oil to penetrate.
A word of precaution however, Tea Tree oil MUST not be ingested as it is very poisonous.
*The above image is retrieved from http://aroma.client.jp/img/herb/tea%20tree.jpg