The medicinal power of tea tree

The tea tree originally grows in Australia, particularly in the provinces of Queensland and New South Wales. It likes to grow on river banks or swampy plains. It is an evergreen tree or shrub that does not grow higher than 10 meters. The tea tree has various medicinal properties. It is mainly used for ear, nose and throat problems, fungal infections and diseases related to the blood vessels. The essential oil of the Australian tea tree has a great healing and antibacterial effect and is therefore popular with natural physicians worldwide. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Tea tree / Source: Tangopaso, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Traditional use of tea tree
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Tea tree in infectious diseases
  • External use tea tree oil
  • Tea tree oil, for psychological and physical fatigue
  • Tea tree, good for the heart and blood vessels
  • Dose and safety

Traditional use of tea tree

The Bundjalung people live in Eastern Australia. They treat colds by inhaling the essential oil of the tea tree. They also use it externally to treat wounds. First, a paste is applied to the wounds, after which the shredded leaves are sprinkled over it. The leaves are boiled and drunk as tea to treat throat problems. This same tea is also used by the Bundjalung when it has cooled down to wash the skin in case of a skin infection. Nowadays, tea tree essential oil is used to treat wounds; this method was adopted from the Bundjalung.

Naming

The Latin name of tea tree is melaleuca alternifolia . The Dutch name tea tree or actually the English name tea tree was given in 1770 by Lieutenant James Cook, the famous explorer. They saw how the Bundjalung prepared a tea from these aromatic leaves. The leaves were examined by the botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who was employed by Cook, and taken to England. In addition, several members of the ship’s crew had a skin disease. This was treated with a paste of the leaves and the skin disease disappeared. This is how the tea tree became known in the Western world as an aromatic, medicinal herb.

Active substances

Only the leaf of the tea tree, which is also sometimes referred to in Dutch as tea tree, is used for phytotherapeutic applications. The following components of the leaves have medicinal properties: essential oil containing mainly monoterpene alcohols such as terpinen-4-ol, terpinen-1-ol and p-cymenol. It also contains the monoterpenes alpha and gamma terpinene and alpha and betapinene. The tea tree also contains myrcene, p-cymene, limonene, terpinolene, oxides and the sesquiterpenes betacaryophyllene, aromadendrene and vridaflorene.

Tea tree in infectious diseases

The essential oil of the tea tree has an immune-enhancing effect. It has an antiseptic or bactericidal effect and is an anti-inflammatory agent. It works well against various bacteria, viruses and parasites. As far as the immune system is concerned, immunoglobulins A and M and complement factors C3 and C4 are increased. All these medicinal activities together lead to phytotherapists prescribing essential tea tree oil for the following indications:

  • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract,
  • Infections in the oral cavity,
  • Tea tree / Source: Tangopaso, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

ulcers, oral mucosal inflammation,

  • Gingivitis, tooth abscess,
  • Throat, nose and ear infections,
  • ear infection,
  • A sore throat,
  • Cold,
  • Bronchitis,
  • Genital infections,
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis,
  • Trichomonas.

External use tea tree oil

The same anti-inflammatory effects as described in the paragraph above can also be applied externally. This requires you to mix the tea tree essential oil with another oil such as grapeseed oil, jojoba oil or olive oil. The oil with which you mix an essential oil is called a carrier oil. In fact, any consumable oil can serve as a carrier oil, but only use organic oils for therapeutic use. Add three to five drops of tea tree oil to one or two tablespoons of carrier oil before rubbing it into the skin. This can be used in phytotherapy for:

  • Acne,
  • Skin fungi,
  • Warts.

Tea tree oil, for psychological and physical fatigue

Tea tree oil not only combats infectious diseases, it strengthens the immune system and in fact the entire body system. It is therefore used as a tonic, a strengthening agent. More specifically, it is a tonic for the nervous system. It can also reduce fatigue. For these medicinal reasons, it is used by herbalists for:

  • Asthenia or fatigue,
  • Mental and physical exhaustion,
  • Neurasthenia or weak nerves,
  • Nervousness.

Tea tree, good for the heart and blood vessels

Tea tree is a tonic for the heart, arteries and blood vessels. This view is not held by all natural physicians. There are doctors who use it for:

  • Reduced cerebral blood circulation,
  • Tired heart muscle,
  • Varicose veins,
  • Hemorrhoids.

Dose and safety

  • Externally for a mouth bath, foot bath or as a shampoo: three to five drops on a carrier oil three times a day.
  • Internal: one to two drops at a time in a teaspoon of oil or on a sugar cube.

Essential oils are rarely used internally. When it does happen, it is always prescribed by a professional doctor. Don’t experiment with it yourself. If therapeutic doses are used, no side effects are known for either internal or external use. What is very important is that you only use tea tree oil that contains enough terpinen-4-ol. Some types of tea tree oil do not contain this substance and almost only contain 1.8 cineole, which has a significantly smaller anti-infective effect.