ONE of the oils that come up for mention when naturals, especially, talk about hair and skin care is tea tree oil, but it doesn't really get all the credit it should, because the smell is so potent. Because if you're using tea tree oil the world will know, since there's no real way of masking that smell.
And so many people forego it for others that promise the same results, but we really can't deny how beneficial it is to have a bottle of the wonder potion in your cabinet.
Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Australian melaleuca alternifolia tree, and has been used for centuries for various ailments.
Herbalist Kenute Harrison says people have used it to soothe dental pain, for burns, and for healing after surgery.
“The main component is that it kills bacteria and fungus, and it's used in everything from shampoos to toothpaste and skin creams,” he said.
“Some people are afraid to use it because it must be diluted, or used with a carrier oil, but once you get the measurements done right, you will see the benefits.”
He explained that tea tree oil can treat many of the common problems people would use other herbs and medicines for — to include treating minor cuts, burns, acne, athlete's foot, mild fungal nail infections, vaginal yeast infections, and as a vaporiser for congestion.
“It can also treat dandruff and other dry scalp issues,” he said.
In its overview of tea tree oil, the Mayo Clinic said it can also be used to treat insect bites, as it has antibacterial properties.
It points to research that has shown benefits for the following conditions:
Acne — Research suggests that a treatment gel containing tea tree oil might be effective at relieving acne.
Dandruff — A tea tree oil shampoo used for four weeks has been shown to be effective at treating dandruff.
Athlete's foot — A tea tree oil cream, applied twice daily for one month, has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of athlete's foot.
Lice — When used in combination with lavender oil, tea tree oil has been shown to be effective at treating lice eggs.
The Mayo Clinic said tea tree oil is generally safe when used topically, but people should avoid oral use as it is toxic when swallowed.
It can also cause skin irritation, allergic skin rash, itching, stinging, redness, dryness and burning in some people, and as such a skin test should be done before use.
People with eczema are also advised not to use tea tree oil.
HOW TO USE:
For the skin: Mix a few drops with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil (4:1 composition), and apply to the skin with a cotton ball.
As an essential oil: Place a few drops of tea tree essential oil in a warm bath, or humidifier.
For the hair: Mix it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. You can also try adding tea tree oil to your regular shampoo.