Tea tree oil is one of the home remedies that many people have in their cupboards at home. With good reason: It is almost an all-rounder and can be used in many ways. We explain what it can do and when you should be careful.
The tea tree from which the valuable essential oil can be extracted is called Melaleuca alternifolia in technical jargon and grows in Australia. There, tea tree oil has long been known as a household remedy. James Cook is said to have brought it to Europe, but it was not until 1925 that its antiseptic, bactericidal and fungicidal effects were scientifically proven. But the oil should not only be able to help with some skin problems. It is also said to have a positive effect on the psyche. Tea tree oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and twigs.
Pure tea tree oil is clear to pale yellow in color. It smells fresh and a bit spicy, for some it has an unpleasant odor. The chemical compounds terpinene and cineole give the oil its healing properties. In order for this to develop fully, you should buy high-quality essential oil: it should contain at least 38 percent terpinen-4-ol and no more than three percent cineole. The latter can have an irritating effect on the mucous membranes in high doses.
Tea tree oil usually has an anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effect. According to "Apotheken Umschau", tea tree oil inhibits the growth of bacteria in laboratory tests, including acne pathogens. It should therefore be helpful for inflammatory skin problems such as pimples, acne or warts. From experimental studies, there are still indications that the ingredients can render viruses such as herpes simplex viruses or skin fungi harmless. In naturopathy, tea tree oil is therefore used for skin problems, warts, athlete's foot and nail fungus or even herpes. However, there are no medical studies that prove these effects.
In addition, the home remedy can be used for colds or as an additive in mouthwashes for inflammation of the gums - or to gargle with inflammation in the throat. What makes it so suitable for these applications: Tea tree oil is very gentle on tissues.
In addition to the mentioned applications on the body, the psychological effects of tea tree oil are often emphasized. The ingredients in the oil are said to help alleviate anxiety and help you feel more comfortable. Contained monoterpenes additionally support the effect. Tea tree oil is said to have a pleasant effect on negative feelings such as listlessness or listlessness and states of exhaustion. These effects are not proven either.
Tea tree oil seems to be a real all-rounder. Of course, it is not a miracle cure and cannot magic away negative feelings or replace going to the doctor. But it can be helpful for many ailments. But be careful: it can happen that allergic reactions occur when used on the skin. It is therefore advisable to do a test on the skin before use - and to refrain from using it if you notice any abnormalities. In addition, it is best to discuss with your (dermatologist) doctor whether you should use the oil pure or only diluted. You should always avoid contact with the eyes - as with other essential oils. It is expressly not suitable for consumption.
Furthermore, medicinal plants that contain essential oils must not be used in the area of the nose and mouth of infants and small children. This can lead to shortness of breath. People who suffer from asthma should also check with their doctor whether they can use tea tree oil. Inhaling essential oils is always taboo, as this application can trigger an asthma attack.
Tea tree oil is not yet approved as a medicinal product in Germany. It is therefore not subject to the strict regulations that apply to medicinal products. When buying, you should always pay attention to what is contained in the bottle and, if necessary, speak to your doctor. Furthermore, pet owners should be careful: "Care products with tea tree oil are offered in Germany to treat pets against ectoparasites such as ticks and fleas as well as against skin fungi. However, cat owners in particular should exercise caution: The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns in particular with repeated use or too high a dose, specifically from severe symptoms of poisoning," says the ESCCAP website.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment also warns against use on the skin: "According to self-classification by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), concentrated tea tree oil is classified as harmful and has the R phrases R 22 (harmful if swallowed), R 38 (irritating to the skin). skin) and R 65 (may cause lung damage if swallowed) and the symbol Xn (harmful) (IFRA Labeling Manual 1, 2001). These hazard warnings can also be found on the safety data sheets of the raw material suppliers." The institute therefore advises: "The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommends limiting the concentration of tea tree oil in cosmetic products to a maximum of one percent. Cosmetic products containing tea tree oil should also be protected from light and antioxidants added to prevent oxidation of the terpenes as far as possible. "
Tip: In order to maintain the effect of the oil and to minimize undesirable effects, it is best to keep the bottle in the folding box so that the light-sensitive tea tree oil is better protected from oxidation. In addition, you should usually use it up six months after opening and ideally use it very diluted and not swallow it.
Sources used: "Apotheken Umschau" / "ESCCAP" / Federal Institute for Risk Assessment
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