Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Daily Herb-o-Scope - Tea Tree Essential Oil

      The Tea Tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia) yields an essential oil that is very valuable. It has antiseptic, expectorant, and immunostimulant properties that can be used in a wide variety of ways. But what I find most useful is its broad spectrum antimicrobial properties, protecting against bacteria, viruses and fungi. When applied topically it is excellent for wound healing. For adults, tea tree oil is one of few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin for cuts and scrapes; however, do not use on babies and for children dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil (olive oil, almond oil, etc.) making a 1% solution. Several drops can also be added to a foot bath of half warm water and half white vinegar to help get rid of athlete’s foot, and when tea tree oil is applied directly to the fingernails or toenails twice a day it can help to get rid the nail of fungi.

      Due to tea tree oil’s expectorant), antimicrobial and immunostimulant properties, it can be a great treatment for all sorts of respiratory issues. I add a few drops of tea tree oil to a pot of boiling water and make a towel tent over my head, inhaling the vapors. This can be quiet beneficial and enjoyable, helping the body to cough up secretions and mucus that are stuck in the respiratory system. I recommend keeping your eyes closed while doing it and when the steam cools down use the pot of water as a foot bath.

      For me, the most benefit I get from tea tree essential oil is in my cleaning products. Its antimicrobial properties are a well needed addition to home-made cleaning products. It’s very simple to make an antiseptic soap spray. Fill a 16oz spray bottle with warm water. Add 3-5 tablespoons of castile soap and about 30 drops of tea tree essential oil. This spray can then be used to disinfect most surfaces and it is non-toxic (unlike most commercial cleaning products). I also like to Sprinkle several drop of tea tree directly on my sponges to help disinfect them.

      There are a few safety precautions to know about before you start using tea tree oil. First it’s non-toxic and non-irritating however some individuals may be allergic to it. So before using tea tree oil, do a small patch test to make sure you are not allergic. Put a small drop on the inside of your arm and if within an hour you notice irritation or redness, do not use tea tree oil. Keep out of the reach of children. Essential oils smell very pleasant, and if a child gets a hold of an essential oil and drinks it, it can be very dangerous and potentially fatal. Also do not take internally.  

      Tea tree oil is very close to me in my arsenal of effective home remedies and I hope you find it as invaluable as I do.

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