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Tea Tree - Melaleuca alternifolia

A small tree or shrub with needle like leaves and heads of sessile yellow or purplish flowers native to Australia. Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy is credited with naming this tree the 'Tea Tree' during an expedition to Australia in 1770. He noted in his ship's log how the local tribes brewed a spicy tea from the leaves of a unique "paper-barked" tree. The Australian Aboriginies have used the leaves, bark and twigs of this tree extensively for centuries - the leaves being particularly effective for skin wounds : once pulvarised they would be placed over a wound and held in place by a mud-pack.

Dr. A. R. Penefold, a government chemist in Sydney, was credited for beginning the human clinical research and documentation of the many benefits associated with Tea Tree oil in 1920. It was around this time that the oil began being used commercially in dentistry and surgery. In the Medical Journal of Australia (1930) it stated that ". . . it dissolved pus and left the surface of infected wounds clean so that its germicidal action became more effective without any apparent damage to the tissues ... most efficient germicides destroy tissues as well as bacteria...."
Tea Tree oil rapidly made its way into regular households as a remedy for fungal infections, skin conditions and infections, lice etc.. and as a general household disinfectant. By WWII it was regarded pretty much a "cure-all" and its antiseptic, antibiotic properties had secured it a place as a regular component in field dressing / first-aid kits among the Australian and British army and navy - to be used to as a general disinfectant and for treatment of a wide range of wounds, tropical infections, head lice, trench foot and the likes. So valued was Tea Tree oil that those working in the processing of the oil were granted exemption from military service to ensure sufficient supply!

As a non toxic, non irritating, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral oil, Tea Tree it is used to combat a wide range of infecting organisms, and can be used neat on the skin without irritating the mucous membrane (although it should not be used by individuals who are unfortaunte to suffer an allergic reaction - as with all essential oils, if you are using it for the first time you might like to consider a small patch test at least 24 hours prior to use). A drop of Tea Tree oil will help prevent cold sores, and is effective on warts, verrucas, insect bites, nappy rash and shingles and makes a superb remedy for spots and blemishes. For fungal infections such as athletes foot try adding a few drops to a salty footbath, or apply topically to the skin. If you suffer from patchy fungal infections on your skin Tea Tree oil will clear it up in no time.
To treat sinusitis, catarrh, throat infections and coughs, add a few drops of the essential oil to a steam inhalation. Particularly effective at combatting outbreaks of thrush - Tea Tree actually reduces the rate at which the Candida organisms reproduce and strengthens the body's ability to resist them.

Comb neat Tea Tree oil through hair, or add to a shampoo or carrier oil, for a particularly effective treatment for head lice and nits, or to treat an itchy scalp or dandruff problem. It’s mild analgesic effect will bring instant relief to a burn or scald, and the antiseptic properties will prevent infection.

Lethal to a wide range of infective micro-organisms, Tea Tree makes an excellent mouth and gum remedy - add 3 or 4 drops to a small cup of water and use as a mouthwash or gargle, or dap on neat to problem gums.

* quote from Patricia Davis A-Z of Aromatherapy - remedy for pre and post op patients : " As a preventative measure, Ti-tree has been used to build up the strength of patients before surgery. By using the oil in baths and massages for some weeks prior to an operation, and continuing with massage (avoiding the immediate area of the operation wound or scar) afterwards, post-operative shock can be reduced."


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