Wood of the tree is valued for its practical quality - it is resistant to humid conditions and can serve as a good building material. The leaves are used for essential oil distillation. Its germicidal properties have been for long known as effective for a variety of infections and bacteria.
Melaleuca alternifolia oil is widely used in aromatherapy, as well as a component in anti-fungal and antiseptic applications. Its antibacterial properties make it a popular ingredient in shampoos, soaps, skin care products, mouth washes, toothpastes and ointments.
The most important property of the tea tree oil is its effectiveness against bacteria and germs. This property is attributed to the terpinen-4-ol chemical in its content (40%). Cineol is the second in the volume (5%) and acts as an irritant. Tea tree oil acts as expectorant, diaphoretic, antibacterial and antiseptic. Its aromatherapeutic properties contribute to its general tonic attributes.
In 1922 the scientific evidence proved the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial actions of tea tree oil when it was distilled and described by Arthur Penfold. Although, long before that, the native inhabitants of Australia (where the Melaleuca originated from) used the oil from the leaves as a remedy added to bathes and topical applications.
Today the tea tree oil helps protect skin from invading germs and harmful bacteria, treats infections and cuts, leg ulcers and ringworm. It is recommended in cases where the use of antibiotics for killing the infection can be avoided.
Dentists suggest tea tree oil preparations for gingivitis, dental plaque, dental cavities and mouth infections, both for prevention and treating. Several drops of the oil in the glass of salty warm water is used for these purposes.
When inhaled, Melaleuca oil acts as an effective expectorant - it soothes the throat, fights chest infection, stops coughing by clearing up the air passages from the mucous, and treats stuffy nose.
Skin creams with the plant oil in them are suggested for application when there's pimples or acne problem. The essential is also helpful for skin boils, insect bites, bruises, and scratches.
Studies has shown positive results for tea tree oil being effective against fungal infections (seborrhea, dandruf), E coli bacteria (causing digestive disorders), and bacteria provoking gynecological infections.