Melaleuca – also known as Tea Tree – has quite a reputation for protecting us from germs and fungi. While the wood of just a few types of Melaleuca trees can be used for building, this tree heavily commercially grown and harvested for its leaves to make the Melaleuca essential oil. These trees are also referred to as “Paperbarks” due to the bark being very thin and and tends to peel off in thin layers. Recently it has been marketed as Cajuput.
During World War II the owners and workers of Melaleuca plantations were exempted from serving in the military with the stipulation of upping the production of Melaleuca essential oil. This is one of the essential oils that have been deemed safe to apply directly to the skin without diluting with a carrier oil first.
What is Melaleuca?
Common Name: Melaleuca or Tea Tree
Latin Names: Melaleuca alternfolia
It is believed that the Melaleuca tree got its name from a description of its blackened and white bark. “Melas” is greek for dark (black), and “leukos” is greek for white. It started being called the “Tea Tree” as sailors from Captain James Cook began using its leaves to replace their green tea leaves with the Melaleuca leaves. There are a little under 300 species of the Melaleuca tree. It is a member of the myrtle family.
Melaleuca is a small tree with narrow needle-like leaves. It can grow between 3 feet up to 20 feet high. Dependent upon the variety of the species, Melaleuca bushes and trees can thrive in dry, sandy soil as well as wet marshy lands. This is a very easy plant to grow. It grows quickly – ready for harvesting within 2 years. The essential oil is also very easy to distill. These factors allow this essential oil to be among the least expensive types.
Melaleuca Oil Extraction Methods
- Steam Distillation
Plant Part: Leaves
Color & Viscosity: A thin clear to pale yellow liquid
Fragrance & Aroma Note:Melaleuca has a fresh, green medicinal scent with characteristic camphoraceous, woody notes. Manuka essential oil can be substituted for Melaleuca essential oil if you happen to be one of the “super smellers” out there who find the aroma overwhelming.
Top/Middle note with a medium aroma.
Blends well with:Cyprus, Thyme, Lavender, Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Lemon Myrrh, Nutmeg, Rosewood, Rosemary, and Thyme
Main Chemical Constituents:
- 1,8 Cineol
- Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral
- Immune stimulant
- Calming agent
- Emotional Properties
Melaleuca is the essential oil for decisiveness. If you are feeling unsure about what is happening around you or if you know someone who needs to “get a grip” on their life, consider inhaling Melaleuca. This essential oil works with the hippocampus in collecting and organizing your thoughts. It helps break ties to negative thoughts and emotions so that new connections can be formed. This empowerment can help you relinquish several forms of self-betrayal. It can support you in breaking the cycle of self sabotage due to a weakened will or feeling controlled by “doormat” belief systems.
Melaleuca encourages you to re-establish your own boundaries. It helps you connect with others in healthy ways by boosting your ability to honor and respect your desires and other’s agency.
How to use Melaleuca Oil
This oil is generally regarded as safe (GRAS), for short periods of time. It is great for inhalation, topical application and can be taken orally, or as a suppository. Eugenol, the active numbing constituent, numbs the nerves on contact making it great for short term use, but can be damaging with long term use.
It is wise and prudent to include the use of a carrier oil with each type of application except inhalation. Carrier oils temper and decrease unpredictable negative responses from your body tissues. Check out myBaseProducts.com for options on how to apply and use essential oils in your daily life.
Remember the #1 rule for using essential oils – Frequency is more important than quantity.
Melaleuca Uses and Benefits
Bug repellent, bite reliever and a non-toxic insecticide. DEET is a highly toxic chemical used in most insecticides. If you have been looking for a clean and natural substitute to the neurotoxin, DEET, then give Melaleuca a try. Melaleuca has been used as a natural bug repellent by native aborigines in Australia for centuries. Just combine a couple drops of Melaleuca with 10 or so drops of a thin carrier oil and rub that over your body. A thinner carrier oil will make spreading easier over a large surface area. It is also great for relieving the pain, itch and inflammation from insect bites.
Over half of the cleaning products in Australia use the melaleuca plant as its basis for deodorizing and killing bacteria. Once you have smelled this essential oil, you will find it easy to remember and recognize as it has a fresh, mild, yet medicinal aroma unique to this plant. This essential oil can be used on wood cutting boards, counters, to clean bathrooms and doorknobs. Just add a few drops directly to your sponge and wipe the area down. Diffusing Melaleuca helps to clean the air of offensive smells and floating germs.
Melaleuca has potent anti-inflammatory and germ fighting properties. It is great for red and inflamed skin. Applying Melaleuca to your skin will reduce the redness as well as decrease the itchiness and pain associated with eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, candida, and athlete’s foot. Just apply a couple drops several times a day to your skin after first applying a light carrier oil. According to a study in 2012 (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology), you will not only be eliminating the symptoms but you will be addressing the root cause as well. It has been reported that baldness is effectively addressed using Melaleuca essential oil if the root cause is by scalp irritation (some type of infection). This oil is a great place to start when looking to rid yourself of warts. For a sore throat gargle 8 oz warm water + 2 TBspoon salt + 5 drops Melaleuca essential oil.
Just as this essential oil calms the redness from insect bites and acne, it also reduces (calms) the inflammation in the head. This attribute makes it a go-to essential oil for some who suffer from headaches and migraines.
A study in 1999 shows that Melaleuca increases the activity of your body’s white blood cells. It has also been shown to effectively destroy other bacteria, viruses and fungus.
Combine Melaleuca with a small dab of a face friendly fixed oil such as jojoba and apply to your skin before shaving to ease or prevent razor burn. If you still happen to nick yourself or have any other cuts or blemishes, this essential oil is a natural antibiotic.
When diffused, Melaleuca will boost your immunity, it will relieve congestion, and eliminate airborne bacteria.
Inhaling Melaleuca essential oil is known to reduce anxiety and relieve those suffering from insomnia.
Add a couple drops to a bowl of boiling water. Using a towel or light cloth, make a tent over your head and give your face a steam bath. This will help relieve respiratory symptoms such as coughs, runny noses, inflammation and sinus infections.
Have you seen someone go into shock? It can be a little scary if you don’t know what to do to help. Just pull out some Melaleuca essential oil and apply under their nose and along their spine. This will calm their nerves and help the body regain its balance.
This herby scented essential oil is beneficial in treating sleeplessness caused by aches and pains. Either inhale it, rub it on or take it internally.
Is someone sick at your house? Melaleuca can’t be beat as an air purifier. It is reputed to cleanse, purify and rejuvenate the air.
If your days stress levels have overrun your deodorant, just apply Melaleuca and the odor will go away. Melaleuca eliminates both the current bacteria as well as stops new forming bacteria.
As a bacteria buster, Melaleuca works great in the mouth area. Apply this essential oil to a cotton swab and dab it on your gums and teeth to kills the germs and sooth the tissues. It can also be taken internally.
Many a home cleaning spray uses Melaleuca as its active ingredient due to its anti-infectious properties and fresh herbaceous fragrance.
Melaleuca Oil Safety Considerations
A skin test is recommended prior to use. To avoid adverse reactions, always use a carrier oil whenever essential oils have direct contact with bodily tissues (topical, oral and suppositories).
For topical applications, consider using a solid carrier oil in stick form versus a messier liquid carrier oil. A solid oil stick makes using essential oils so much easier. myBase Products has a moisturizing Carrier Oil Stick made specifically for essential oil use. It is made with a variety of carrier oils which are absorbed into the skin at different rates and depths. It is a great product.
Avoid contact with your eyes.
Melaleuca Oil Interesting Facts
Melaleuca is often included in cosmetics that encourage scars to lighten, disinfect pores and replenish the skin’s natural oil balance.
Use a drop of Melaleuca essential oil on your pets bedding and inside their crate. This will repel the ticks, fleas and any other insect from coming too close.
Melaleuca is quite popular with high school wrestling and basketball coaches as an effective and inexpensive way to eliminate ringworm.
Studies involving terpenes – one of the main constituents of Melaleuca – show the terpenes are effective at fighting many kinds of bacteria, including different forms of Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.
Studies have been connected mixing Neem oil and Melaleuca essential oil as a cleansing agent and scar reducer with good success.
A study out of India found the mechanism of how Melaleuca works is through increasing the permeability of the liposomal systems (the fatty membranes around the cell and its parts) causing the loss of membrane integrity and the leakage of ions. This inhibits respiration in the bacterium and culminates in their death!
Melaleuca is an important food source for some insects, birds and a small variety of mammals. They are also popular as home garden plants because of their cone shaped flowers and dense foliage providing an opaque screen for backyards.
Many people report that they initially used this essential oil for cuts, wounds and scrapes. They were amazed at the added benefit of seeing their skin heal at a much faster rate as well.