This highly effective essential oil can be your skin’s new best friend

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tea-tree-essential-oil(NaturalHealth365)  Tea tree oil, derived from the leaves of the tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia, has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to treat wounds, rashes, infections, and insect bites.  But is the use of this popular oil supported by science?  Let’s see what the research says.

The good news is that tea tree essential oil has been shown in scientific studies to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory qualities.  In fact, a new review published in Frontiers of Pharmacology highlights multiple benefits of tea tree oil for skin and gums.  Here are four compelling reasons to place tea tree oil “front and center” in your natural personal care toolbox.

Natural first aid for scrapes and cuts: Tea tree essential oil inhibits antibiotic-resistant “staph” germs

Antimicrobial resistance, the ability of pathogens to resist the effects of pharmaceutical drugs, has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global public health crisis.  While much of the concern has centered on MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the WHO warned in a 2022 report that other common pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella, are becoming increasingly resistant as well.

In one older trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that a dressing with tea tree oil helped to speed wound healing in 90 percent of volunteers with wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.  The team labeled the results “striking” and called for a larger study.

The latest review, published in 2023 in Frontiers in Pharmacology, yielded even more encouraging results.  The authors reported that topical application of tea tree oil worked about as well as standard medical treatments for decolonizing the body from MRSA.  The “bonus” here, of course, is that microbes don’t appear to develop resistance against tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil contains a natural antiseptic compound known as terpinene-4-ol, which also promotes the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells.  So, it’s not surprising that many holistic healthcare providers advise tea tree oil to prevent infection and speed healing of minor cuts and abrasions.  Simply add one drop of tea tree oil to one teaspoon of coconut oil.  Apply the mixture and cover with a bandage.

Ease skin irritations, rashes and break-outs

Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory powers also make it a useful ally against contact dermatitis, which can cause rashes, blisters, and painful, itchy skin.  Caused by allergic reactions to normally harmless substances, contact dermatitis is surprisingly common, with an estimated 10 to 17 percent of Americans affected by allergies to nickel alone.

Holistic practitioners typically advise 10 drops of tea tree oil to 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, applied two to three times a day.  To avoid the risk of exacerbating allergies, perform a small patch test on the forearm 24 hours before use.  Incidentally, tea tree oil may also help banish pimples.  The authors of the new review reported that a 5 percent tea tree oil-based gel may be effective in reducing the number of acne lesions.  In one study, in fact, a tea tree oil gel worked as well against acne as benzoyl peroxide!

Use tea tree oil in a non-toxic hand sanitizer

Tea tree oil – which inhibits E. coli, S. aureus, and the pathogens that cause influenza and pneumonia – makes an excellent base for a hand sanitizer.  You can add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to liquid hand soap – or go the DIY route and make your own formulation.

Combine 3 ounces of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, one ounce of aloe vera gel, 30 drops of tea tree oil, a quarter teaspoon of vitamin E, and 5 to 10 drops of lavender essential oil.  Store your solution in dark-colored glass bottles to avoid exposure to light, and shake well before each use.

Support periodontal health with tea tree oil

According to the new review, tea tree oil benefits more than just the skin.  It can also make an important contribution to oral health.  The review authors cited multiple studies showing that mouthwashes containing 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent tea tree oil can reduce gum inflammation and limit the accumulation of dental plaque, a key factor in gum disease and tooth decay.  To make your own tea tree oil-based mouthwash, mix one drop in a cup of warm water and swish for 30 seconds, taking care not to swallow any of the mixture.  (Important – never take tea tree oil internally.)

Naturally, if you’re new to the use of natural remedies, check with a trusted holistic doctor or health coach.

In conclusion, tea tree essential oil is probably the original “multitasker” of natural skin care.  Whether you use it for zapping zits, cleansing minor wounds, sanitizing hands, or upping your oral health game, this hard-working antimicrobial oil is a valuable addition to your health routine.

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