Tea tree oil is a common and popular ingredient in various household and cosmetics, including shampoos, massage oils, lotions, detergents, etc., known for its potential bactericidal properties, and has inhibiting effects on various bacteria, fungi, viruses and mites in some experiments.
In empirical medicine, what are the benefits of using tea tree oil? Are there any side effects or contraindications? See text analysis for details.
What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia, commonly known as the leaves and top branches of the Australian tea plant, with a yellowish color.
The tree belongs to the Myrtaceae family, which has about 230 species, almost all of which are native to Australia. Defined by the local aborigines as “nature’s most versatile healer”, it has been widely used in natural remedies for hundreds of years.
During World War I, tea tree oil was used as a first-line first aid for the Australian army, treating infections, burns and mosquito bites.
A large number of empirical evidence has also found that tea tree oil does have antibacterial, fungal, viral and other effects (and even microorganisms resistant to traditional medicines). Note 10
What are the proven benefits of tea tree oil?
1. Tea tree essential oil prevents dental plaque and periodontal disease
Periodontal diseases are common in both developed and developing countries, accounting for about 20 to 50% of the global population, and the high prevalence makes it a public health problem.
Some risk factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene, diabetes, medications, age, genetics, and stress are all associated with periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%, and in people aged 65 years and older, this relative risk increases by up to 44%.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective interventional study (6 weeks, 152 school-age children), participants were divided into 4 groups according to the mouthwash used. The first group was given aloe vera, the second group was given chlorhexidine, the third group was given tea tree oil, and the fourth group was give placebo. And the following variables were monitored (plaque index, gum index, and salivary Streptococcus variantis count). Note 1
It was found that all variables in all but placebo were statistically significantly reduced.
*Conclusion: Tea tree oil mouthwash can reduce plaque, gingivitis and Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, and may be helpful for oral hygiene
2. Tea tree oil is beneficial for rosacea
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that is common in adults and is more common on visible skin areas such as the face. Characterised by flushing, papules, pustules, and vasodilation, the main pathogenesis includes genetic, environmental, Helicobacter pylori, and Demodex follicularis.
In the United States alone, more than 1600 million patients are affected by rosacea, with worldwide incidence of up to 18%, especially in people with predominantly “Celtic” ancestry, such as Ireland.
A double-blind randomized trial (12-week, 47 patients with rosacea) noted that the combination of tea tree oil and an antiparasitic drug (permethrin 2.5%) topical gel helped reduce mite density compared with placebo, and associated clinical features such as papules, pustules, non-transient erythema, burning, tingling, and dryness were significantly improved. Note 2
*Conclusion: For patients with rosacea, tea tree essential oil and antiparasitic drugs (permethrin 2.5%) can help improve clinical symptoms, but limited by small sample sizes, more studies are needed to support this
3. Tea tree oil is beneficial for idiopathic hirsutism
Hirsutism is a common clinical symptom affected by 5% to 10% of women of childbearing age, which is very painful for patients due to changes in appearance and has a significant negative impact on psychosocial development.
Polycystic ovary syndrome and idiopathic hirsutism are the two most common causes of hirsutism.
The pathogenesis of idiopathic hirsutism may be related to increased peripheral 5-alpha reductase activity, androgen receptor gene polymorphisms, and increased sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens.
A prospective, open-label, placebo-controlled, randomized study (3-month study of 24 women with mild idiopathic hirsutism) noted that topical sprays containing lavender and tea tree essential oils helped reduce hirsutism total score and hair diameter. Note 3
*Conclusion: For women with idiopathic hirsutism, topical sprays containing tea tree oil may bring positive help, but limited by small sample sizes, more studies are needed for further validation
4. Tea tree essential oil is beneficial for nail funguosis (nail fungusis)
Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungusis, is the most common bacterial nail infection disease, a gender- and age-related disorder that is more prevalent in men and increases with age (the incidence may exceed 40% in older adults).
Predisposing factors are diabetes mellitus, peripheral arterial disease, immunosuppression due to HIV, or immunosuppressant use.
Toenails are more susceptible than fingernails, and in these cases, onychomycosis usually involves multiple nails, often with dry plantar ringworm.
A double-blind, multicenter, randomized controlled trial (6 months, 117 patients with remote onychomycosis) noted that topical application of 1% chlorpromazole solution with tea tree oil helped improve nail appearance and symptoms. Note 4
*Conclusion: Topical application of tea tree oil may be helpful for the improvement of nail fungus, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are needed to confirm its clinical benefit
5. Tea tree oil is beneficial to acne, also known as acne
According to the Global Burden of Disease Survey, acne is prevalent in about 12% of adolescents between the ages of 25 and 85.
Even if it is very mild, these pimples on the face often cause great trouble, especially in the adolescence of beauty. When severe acne can even affect mental health, social interaction, self-confidence and even job opportunities.
In conventional treatment, antibiotics are one of the commonly used options, but the development of drug resistance often leads to poor treatment results, so the search for effective and well-tolerated therapies has become a major problem.
A double-blind controlled study (45 days, 60 patients with mild to moderate acne) found that topical 5% tree oil gel helped improve total acne lesions counting and acne severity index. The degree of improvement was about 3.55 and 5.75 times that of the placebo group (the mechanism behind it is related to the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects of tea tree oil). Note 5
*Conclusion: Tea tree oil gel may be helpful in improving acne, but due to the small sample size, more studies are needed for further validation
6. Tea tree essential oil is beneficial to tinea pedis (also known as athlete’s foot, Hong Kong foot)
Tinea pedis also known as athlete’s foot, is a fungal infection that often occurs between the toes (about 70% of the population has suffered from this disease), the symptoms are mainly scaly rashes, and cause itching, tingling and burning sensation in the affected area, due to the high infectious and recurrence rate, if untreated, it is easy to infect other parts.
A double-blind controlled study (4 weeks, 158 patients with tinea pedis) found that topical tea tree oil blending solution (concentration of 25% or 50%) helped improve athlete’s foot symptoms, with Mycological cure rates of 55% and 64%, respectively, in the tea tree oil group, compared with 31% in the placebo group (but 4 cases withdrew due to dermatitis). Note 6
*Conclusion: Tea tree oil may be helpful in improving tinea pedis, but due to the small sample size, more studies are still needed to further validate
7. Tea tree oil improves dandruff (the main symptom of seborrheic dermatitis/Seborrheic Dermatitis)
The main feature of dandruff is the appearance of white or milky yellow dry scales on the scalp, accompanied by mild itching, although not a serious disease, but often cause social distress (mistaken for poor hygiene).
At present, the medical community believes that dandruff is actually a seborrheic dermatitis limited to the scalp (milder and non-inflammatory, mainly related to sebaceous gland secretion, Malassezia and host immune function).
Compared to seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff is more common, gradually increasing after puberty, affecting about 50% of the adult population, with a higher incidence in men than women, and a slower incidence after the age of 50.
A controlled study (4 weeks, 126 patients with mild to moderate dandruff) found that the use of 5% tea tree oil shampoo helped reduce the overall scalp lesion score by 40%, compared with 11% of placebo, and other self-rated measures such as itchiness and oiliness were also significantly improved. Note 7
*Conclusion: Tea tree oil shampoo may be helpful in improving dandruff, but due to the small sample size, more studies are needed to further validate
8. Tea tree oil is beneficial for scabies
Scabies is mainly a disease caused by scabies infection, common symptoms of scabies are strong itching and paline rash, mainly transmitted by prolonged skin contact with infected people.
Scabies is a very serious health problem for people living in the third world (developing countries), ranging from 0.2% to 24% and affecting about 3 million people, including children with a high incidence of 30% to 65%.
In addition to strong itching in the affected area, scabies often causes secondary infection, which is particularly prone to streptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN), and for children, increases the risk of kidney disease in adulthood by 6 times.
The unique antibacterial substance of tea tree oil combined with wound healing effect helps prevent further deterioration of scabies to bacterial complications such as pyoderma and secondary sepsis. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effect can also reduce the immune response caused by mite antigens. Note 8
Many preclinical studies have found tea tree oil to have excellent anti-scabies properties compared to anti-scabies drugs such as topical permethrin and oral ivermectin.
However, as of now, there has been no large-scale clinical evidence, so more studies are needed to confirm it.
What are the side effects of tea tree oil?
In most cases, the appropriate dosage and concentration of topical tea tree oil is very safe and has no side effects, but in some cases, under the premise of high concentration or sensitive skin, allergic reactions such as itching, tingling, burning, dryness and redness may occur, which may lead to dizziness and even throat swelling.
Therefore, it is recommended to apply a small amount of the test to the local skin before using a large area, and wait 24 hours to confirm that no adverse reactions have occurred.
Safety precautions (9 contraindications to use)
1. Do not take tea tree oil directly orally, it may cause serious adverse reactions such as rash, blood cell abnormalities, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, hallucinations and movement disorders
2. Be careful if you are allergic to eucalyptol, some formulations may contain this ingredient
3. Avoid using essential oils that have been opened for too long and have been oxidized, which may increase the risk of skin irritation (it is recommended to use within 1 year of purchase or bottle opening)
4. The components of tea tree oil are prone to deterioration when exposed to air, moisture, light and heat, and should be stored in a dark, dry and cool place
5. Undiluted essential oils should not be used directly, it is easy to cause skin irritation, if you have sensitive skin, it is best to mix with the same amount or more of Carrier Oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
6. Avoid applying essential oils to eyes, inside the nose, contact lenses or sensitive areas of the skin
7. The safety of use in young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and liver and kidney insufficiency is unknown
8. Avoid use on pets (cats, dogs or other animals, whether taken internally or externally), it may cause poisoning, and related symptoms include: muscle tremor, weakness, difficulty walking, hypothermia and increased saliva
9. There have been cases of gynecomastia developed by underage boys after using products containing tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil, so for safety, children before and after puberty should not use it. Note 9
Where can I buy the highest quality Tea Tree Oil that is recommended by most people?
NOW Foods, Organic Essential Oils, Tea Tree, 1 fl oz (30 ml)
(Direct shipping from the United States / Worldwide delivery)
Now Foods is a well-known health care brand in the United States, with high sales rates in major channels
This product is USDA Organic, 100% pure, the highest product satisfaction in its class, and the quality you can trust