Herbal Supplements
Tea Tree Oil - Antiseptic Remedy
 
Biological Description
 
Tea tree name is associated with the oil of Melaleuca alternifolia shrub belonging to Myrtaceae family. This family of plants includes a variety of "aromatic members", Eucalyptus being one of them. The bushy Melaleuca evergreen shrub grows up to 6 meter tall, has a papery bark, and leaves with the citrus scent. The hermaphrodite white flowers bloom in summer and spring; they look like the snow on the green background of the foliage and that is where the second name of the plant - snow-in-summer - comes from. The value of the tree is in the oil extracted from its aromatic leaves. It has antiseptic and deodorant properties and is often found in a variety of medicinal preparations and commercial self-care and house products.
 
"Tea tree" is the name commonly attributed to Liptospermums, another representatives of Myrtaceae family. But it's for unknown reasons that the oil of Malaleuca alternifolia has aqcuired the "tea tree" title.
 
Growing
 
Melaleuca alternifolia is not too "picky" as for the soil conditions. The plant grows well in most fertile ground types with average drainage. Being shade tolerant, tea tree still shows better results when exposed to full sun. The plant is propagated from both cuttings and seeds, the latter taking 12 months to develop from woody capsules and persisting for 3 years.
 
Parts Used
 
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.
 
Market
 
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. 
 
Action
 
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. 
 
Health Benefits
 
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. 
 
 
 
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