Essential Oil of the Month
Tea-Tree & Lemon Tea-Tree
Aussie plant battler defends human body
AUSTRALIA'S first human herbalists, the Aboriginal people, have a long history with tea-tree and its sweeter sibling, lemon tea-tree.
Both tea-trees were valued by the indigenous people for their antiseptic and antimicrobial properties to combat coughs, colds and infections and were also successfully used as an effective insect repellent.
The pungent leaves of tea-tree were soaked in hot water and taken as a herbal tea and the leaves were also used to treat open wounds.
Freshly crushed leaves were applied directly to the skin and held in place with a mudpack; this proved to be a powerful remedy to combat infection in the wound, as well as counteracting potential infection from the non-sterile mudpack.
Sometimes they simply chewed the leaves to treat colds and headaches. The bark from the tea-tree was used to make canoes, knife sheaths and thatching for shelters.
Captain James Cook and his party made a spicy tea from the aromatic leaves and it became a valued remedy among European settlers. But it was not until it performed so well in World War I that tea-tree gained scientific attention.
In 1923 an Australian government scientist Dr AR Penfold conducted a study verifying the powerful bactericidal properties of tea-tree. He claimed it to be 12 times stronger than the then much popular carbolic acid and some time later it won the acclaim it deserved when the British Medical Journal in 1933 declared it a powerful, non-poisonous and non-irritating disinfectant.
During World War II tea-tree was include in military aid kits in tropical areas, where its anti-fungal ability was put to good use.
Skin care is the key
Today tea-tree is still best known for its broad-spectrum anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity. Its key action is in skincare, where it markedly reduces inflammation and the list is long of conditions for which it is helpful.
It treats abscesses, boils, acne, tinea, blisters, burns, cold sores, herpes, insect bites, rashes and infected wounds.
Mixed into ointments, applied neat to small lesions such as cold sores or used in compresses and lotions, its uses are myriad to effectively fight infection and help heal the skin of many disorders.
A little tea-tree oil blended with chamomile and lavender oil in a calendula base will do wonders for eczema, psoriasis and nappy rash.
A combination of tea-tree, lemon and myrrh has been successfully used on plantar warts, while a few drops of tea-tree into shampoo or conditioner treats dandruff, alopecia and scalp irritations.
Tea-tree strengthens the defensive chi and can be used to not only eradicate harmful pathogens, but to help prevent the recurrence of infection. The respiratory system also benefits from the anti-infectious nature of tea-tree. Especially because tea-tree is also a stimulant for the immune system, conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, and coughs may be treated with chest rubs and inhalations using tea tree.
Use tea-tree in an oil-burner to keep colds and flu at bay. Add a few drops of tea-tree to a vegetable oil and rub into the side of a sore throat.
The genito-urinary system is helped by tea-tree’s antiseptic cleansing action. Using tea-tree diluted in external washes may shift yeast infections and conditions such as cystitis, thrush, vaginitis and pruritis.
Careful ingestion of 1-3 drops per day orally, well diluted with food, can combat infection. This is contra-indicated where there are digestive disorders, especially ulcers.
Massages with tea-tree are helpful when one suffers from colds, fever or the flu and cooling compresses of tea-tree are indicated for infectious illnesses such as chicken pox. Dabbed on herpes, tea-tree brings a measure of relief from the recurring virus. Include a little in mouth rinses to service the gums in cases such as gingivitis.
Did You Know?
The tea tree favours rather remote wetland regions and harvesting the leaves for their oil is difficult; so it is now cultivated and commercial growers clone seedlings to ensure high quality oil. In the 1980s, many Australian plants, including lemon tea-tree, tea-tree, and several eucalyptus tree species were successfully transplanted to South Africa. These plants thrive in the environment, and produce exceptional essential oils.
Tea-tree oil steadies the nerves and promotes blood flow to the brain; it is thus indicated for mental fatigue and nervous debility, especially where there is immune weakness.
This antiseptic oil sweats toxins out of the body hastening recovery and could be useful for patients after surgical operations and convalescence.
Tea-tree helps to counter shock and its use is beneficial in cases of past abuse traumas, especially where there has been abandonment. Add some rose to the tea-tree to assist in recovering self-esteem and confidence, which counters the sense of loss of love and grief from this.
Immune type diseases are often accompanied by depression, which exacerbates the condition; sometimes chronic ill-health affects less robust people negatively, leaving them feeling victimised and full of self-pity. Using tea-tree in treatments bolsters the immune as well restoring confidence and morale, which encourages the positive outlook necessary to engage in the healing process.
Lemon-scented tea tree
THIS citrusy cousin of tea-tree can be used in massage and bath oil blends for its sedative and uplifting benefits. Use it in skin care products as you would lemongrass oil for its tonifying, cleansing properties. Make sure it is well diluted.
Diffused, this fresh, rejuvenating scent clears the mind and makes a fantastic deodoriser - it is most effective when used in room sprays. Lemon tea-tree is one of the best natural mosquito repellents and is effective on its own in a carrier oil.
Try 12 drops lemon tea-tree, 4 drops eucalyptus and 4 drops cedarwood plus 100ml of water in a spray bottle and use on a dog's coat to keep away the fleas.
Lemon tea-tree has all of the medicinal properties associated with tea-tree essential oil, yet has additional broad-range anti-fungal abilities.
In a recent study, lemon tea-tree oil was diffused and inhaled to observe if it would combat the fungi that cause Aspergillosis (a voracious lung infection). The pharmaceutical drugs normally prescribed to combat the condition were found to be substantially less effective than use of lemon tea-tree essential oil.
Another study recently in by the Australian Department of Health found lemon tea-tree essential oil applied topically was extremely effective at inhibiting growth of candida albicans fungi through direct disturbance of the cell membrane.
Tea-tree has deeply penetrating spiritual effects; its energy expands all the chakras and aligns them with the crown, which is most effective at soothing stress in the overly emotional.
A corollary of this is a reprogramming of our cellular body, and a creation of new paradigms; making tea-tree a useful aid in transformation.
Repressed anger can be surfaced by using tea-tree and released. This oil quells the victim mentality and helping individuals relinquish the martyr role to establish new attitudes and ways of being.
Tea-tree enables one to recognise detrimental thought patterns, especially those that cause a sense of separation. Tea-tree engages the body’s defense system, namely the immune system; and this protective capacity extends to the emotional, mental and spiritual - warding off the toxic affects of our bad habits.
Inhalations: Add a few drops of tea-tree to a bowl of hot water and inhale the vapours with the head covered by a towel. Repeat up to three times a day to clear the infection. It is best used in synergy with other pulmonary oils such as eucalyptus, niaouli, pine or peppermint.
Thrush treatment: Blend tea-tree with manuka and litsea cubeba (may chang) to augment the potency of this treatment; this can be applied across the abdomen, the pelvic floor and throat to counter the invasion. Add three drops of this blend to a shallow bath, just before getting in. Reapply three drops of the blend diluted in a teaspoon of vegetable oil and apply to the genital area. Avoid sugar, alcohol, dairy and processed starch for up to three weeks during treatment.
Acne Dab-on: Equal parts tea-tree and lavender oil, plus a little chamomile oil, applied directly can reduce inflammation and redness.
Germicide: Soften the antiseptic smell of tea tree with geranium and lemon to use in deodorants, disinfectants or wherever you want a germicidal boost.
THERE ARE a large number of swamp-growing shrubs and trees called tea-tree from the Myrtaceae family that grow in Australia and New Zealand; they are also known as paper barks.
They are called tea-tree because water that they grow near turns a clear brown tea-like colour due to the tannins from the fallen leaves and twigs. The tea-tree oil we know is from the narrow-leaved paper bark, which is the smallest of the tea-tree family, with needle-like leaves similar to cypress and its flower heads are yellow or purple and shaped like bottlebrushes. This tea-tree bush belongs to the Melaleuca genus and is quite vigorous and continues to flourish even when chopped down and is ready again for harvest after two years. The lemon-scented tea-tree is a large shrub that grows up to five metres in height, and is originally native to the rocky
escarpments of north eastern Australia
Tea-Tree Fact File:
Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Scent: Tea tree has a fresh, medicinal yet pungent smell, almost sanitary in nature and is not favoured in perfumery as such. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs and the liquid is clear, colorless to pale yellow. The darker the yellow the more likely it has oxidized and may be more irritating.
Blends well with: Cajeput, clove bud, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, juniper, lavender, lemon, mandarin, orange, peppermint, pine, rosemary and thyme. Try combining tea-tree with lemon tea-tree to greatly enhance the aroma and efficacy in a blend.
Therapeutic properties: Anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, balsamic, cicatrizing (wound healing), cardio-tonic, diaphoretic (induces sweating), expectorant, fungicidal, immuno-stimulant, parasiticide, vulnerary.
Precautions: Test a small amount of essential oil first for sensitivity or allergic reaction.
Lemon Tea Tree Fact File:
Name: Lemon Tea-Tree
Latin name: Leptospermum citratum
Scent: Bright, refreshing top notes. Slightly minty, even grassy and its bold lemon heart note predominates with a herbaceous, lightly camphoraceous undertone. This oil is steam distilled from the leaves and twigs and is composed primarily of citral and citronellal, giving the oil a more pleasant, less medicinal scent than ordinary tea-tree. Its "lemony" note is less coarse than citronella or lemongrass.
Blends well with: see Tea-Tree.
Therapeutic properties: As with Tea-Tree.
Precautions: Citral, a main component in lemon tea-tree oil, can be irritating to the skin, so adequate dilution is recommended (three per cent or less) concentration. Test a small amount of essential oil first for sensitivity or allergic reaction.