Tea Tree Oil: History, Benefits, and Safety
The tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is widely known in Australia as a medicinal plant that is native to southeast Queensland and the northeast coast of New South Wales. It was used by the indigenous for treating skin fungal and bacterial infections. Like the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), its leaves can also be used to brew a tea, although the two plant species are distantly related and must not be mixed up.
Even though the tea tree had been popular in Australia for centuries, the world only learned about it in the late 1800s after James Cook’s voyage to Botany Bay. Cook learned from the aborigines that the tea tree has an antiseptic property and they’d been using it for treating wounds. Cook and the sailors took advantage of this property by brewing a tea from its leaves in an attempt to prevent scurvy, which was prevalent at the time. That’s when the tree became known as tea tree.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
While it was obvious that the tea tree has a potential to perform on the global market, no one expected that it will be more in demand for its essential oil than for its tea. On their journey home, James Cook brought back with him tea tree oil produced by the aborigines. The doctor he asked to study it confirmed its antiseptic property. Since then, it’s been sold in more than seven different European countries.
The popularity of tea tree oil as a germ-killing product momentarily waned off when penicillin was introduced to the market in the late 1920s. However, this didn’t stop natural product aficionados from using tea tree oil for their everyday needs, treating anything from small cuts to mild athlete’s foot. Today, tea tree oil is widely used for cosmetic applications, thanks to the same antiseptic property that made it popular as a therapeutic product.
Safe for the Skin
Various studies have shown that tea tree oil is safe for topical use. Even when you apply it on your skin in its pure form, there’s a small chance it will cause an allergic reaction. In contrast, most other types of essential oils could irritate the skin when applied directly or without a carrier oil or lotion. To be sure though, try doing a patch test to see whether or not you are allergic to this particular essential oil. If the test suggests that you are allergic, you can bring the potency of the tea tree oil down to a safe level by diluting it with a carrier oil.
Generally, tea tree oil is safe for your skin. In fact, a comprehensive dossier on the safety and effectiveness of this essential oil was published by the RIRDC and ATTIA in 2007. Succeeding researches have revealed that tea tree oil is an effective antibacterial, antifungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory substance. Therefore, you can use this product to take care of your skin. As a cosmetic product, tea tree oil can help revitalise your facial skin, prevent acne breakouts, and eliminate infectious bacteria and fungi.
If you are planning to make your own tea tree oil blend, obtain your ingredients from a trusted supplier like N-Essentials. This way, you can be sure that the essential oil and carrier oil you will use are of the highest quality.