Okay, I’m getting back on track with the blogging, hopefully. I’ve already shared how to use these other versatile essential oils – Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint - and today, I will share about the ways that I like to use another excellent one, Tea Tree. The Tea Tree I am referring to is Melaleuca alternifolia, sometimes called Tea Tree Australia. This is not to be confused with Tea Tree New Zealand, or Leptospernum scoparium, sometimes also called Manuka. I really do like both, and both have similar properties, but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just note that I am talking about Tea Tree Australia.
1. As a surface disinfectant: Tea Tree is one of the strongest anti-virals, anti-bacterials, and anti-fungals. I like to carry a little drop with me when I travel to wipe off surfaces before I touch them – toilet seats, faucets, sinks, bathtubs, and countertops in hotel rooms.
2. For acne/pimples: I don’t get pimples that much anymore (I’m not that young anymore, haha), but there was a time in my twenties when I would have a whitehead blooming daily on some inconvenient part of my face. Well, if I had known then what I know now, I would have brought out the Tea Tree oil and dabbed a drop of it straight on the pimple to “encourage” it to heal. (Tea Tree, like Lavender, can be used “neat” – or undiluted – on the skin. There are no other essential oils that can be used this way, to my knowledge). In fact, when I used to own a spa, we used to use Tea Tree after the extractions part of a facial (remember the steps of a facial? If not, you can review them here) for this very same purpose.
3. To prevent finger- or toe-nail fungal infections: This is one of the best uses of Tea Tree oil. I like to paint Tea Tree oil on my toenails to prevent nail fungal infections (remember – Tea Tree is a very strong anti-fungal). But there’s no reason you can’t use this on your fingernails, too. Just try to do it when your toes are completely unpolished and free of any gels, silks, topcoats, etc. etc. If you want, you can blend it with Lemon essential oil so that you benefit from the nail strengthening effects of the Lemon and the nail fungus-prevention effects of the Tea Tree. If you want to do this, put 3 drops of Lemon and 3 drops of Tea Tree into a tablespoon of your carrier oil of choice, then “paint” onto your nails/toenails.
4. For foot soaks and foot powders (i.e., athlete’s foot): Tea Tree is a great all-around foot treatment, especially if you find yourself in the unpleasant situation of having athlete’s foot. A great recipe for a foot soak would go something like this: pour 16 ounces of hot water into a bowl large enough for the feet, then add 6 to 7 drops of Tea Tree essential oil, and then soak your feet for 10-15 minutes. Other good essential oils I like to add for the feet to enhance the anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties of Tea Tree would include Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
5. As an anti-dandruff hair rinse: Yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit in a public forum that I have dandruff, but I’ve already admitted all kinds of other unflattering truths about myself, so what the hey. Dandruff was one of the first reasons that I actually got interested in essential oils in the first place, as I constantly searched around for natural remedies to reduce the appearance of those yucky white flakes. I found all kinds of information sources that recommended Tea Tree and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oils as great for dandruff, but then could never figure out EXACTLY how to use them. I had read that you should add them to your shampoo, or add them to your conditioner, but neither of those seemed quite right. In the end, what I did was create a solution of 8 ounces of water and about 20 drops of Tea Tree and Rosemary essential oils (10 drops of each), and I would first lather up with shampoo, and then use this solution to wash the shampoo out of my hair (like a “rinse”). It worked very well for me (when I had the time to make it and actually use it), but I am waiting for the day that someone produces a commercial version of this so I can just buy it off the shelf!
Lastly, I just want to end by telling you that Tea Tree essential oil is one of the safest essential oils out there – with a Toxic Rating of only I – and that it is an absolute must-have for your home or travel essential oil first aid kit!