Genus & Species: Melaleuca alternifolia
Common Names: Tea Tree
Overview: Tea tree is a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family that is native to Australia. However, it is now so well known that its name is practically synonymous with “essential oil”. Tea Tree’s prominent reputation is, in-part, thanks to the practicality and strength of its essential oil in a number of different applications. The distilled oil is rich with monoterpenes and exhibits broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity.  The earliest recorded use of tea tree as medicine was by the Bundjalung Aborigines of northern New South Wales. To treat coughs and colds they would inhale the powdered leaf or sprinkle some directly onto wounds before applying a poultice.  Presumably, these methods allowed them to take advantage of the herb’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. [1, 2]
Therapeutic Properties: Antiseptic, antiinflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral.
Typical Uses: Tea tree’s potent antimicrobial and antiinflammatory properties lend it a surprisingly wide array of applications. Tea tree essential oil has been demonstrated to be helpful for treating fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and dandruff and bacterial infections such as gingivitis and acne. [2, 3] To make us of the topical benefits, heavily dilute a few drops of the essential oil into another oil such as olive or sunflower. Then, apply the mixture to areas of concern three or four times a day.
1. Review on Efficacy and Safety of Tea Tree Oil in Treating Acne | American Botanical Council
2. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties | PubMed Central®
3. Tea Tree Oil | National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health