Fragrant Friday: Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Today’s featured essential oil should be
in everyones home pharmacy and first aid kit.

The remarkable antiseptic power of tea tree has been one of the most
researched, documented and clinically proven of all the essential oils.

If I (or more likely my husband) should ever participate on the TV show “Survivor”,
this oil would be top on the list of things to take along!

(My Tea Tree SoulCollage® Card is, as always, at the bottom of this post.)

Essential Oil of Tea Tree
(Melaleuca alternifolia)


My personal relationship with Tea Tree
In my aromatherapy classes, I love asking students who smell Tea Tree for the first time to give me their impressions.  It tends to surprise people.  It’s not an olfactory delight like Bergamot or Lavender, and the reactions I get are everything from paint thinner to pepper.  Personally, I get an image of antique furniture when I smell Tea Tree.

My personal tea tree stories and experiences could fill a book (and hopefully will fill a book someday). If I were on the TV show Survivor I would definitely pack this oil.
And every time I watch Castaway I think how poor Tom Hanks could have really used a bottle for his bad tooth or coral-gouged leg. Many evenings when my husband and I watch a shoot ‘em up film , my husband will remark “man, they’re gonna need a mess of Tea Tree for that guy”. If I were only allowed to own one oil (perish the thought), Tea Tree would be the one.

Geographical Source: Australia, South Africa

Plant Part:  The essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves.

Oil Characteristics:  A pale yellow-green or clear oil with a fresh, camphoraceous and medicinal aroma.

Note:  Top/Middle

Chemical Families:  Primarily Monoterpenes and Monoterpenols

Therapeutic Properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-fungal
  • Reduces nasal mucous production and swelling
  • Removes excess mucous from the respiratory system
  • Stimulates immune function

Applications: Tea Tree has has the strongest impact on the skin and respiratory systems.  It’s also great for mouth and gums.

  • Sinus:  Use in a steam for sinus decongestion or to help avoid a sinus infection
  • Throat:  Gargle: 8 oz warm water, 2 Tblsp salt, 5 drops Tea Tree
  • Skin: put a dab on an  infection or a pimple.

A Couple of Personal Tea Tree Story:
1. My brother Paul lives in Oregon and called me a few years ago when he’d been hit by a car while riding his bike. He hadn’t broken any bones but did suffer a multitide of scrapes, gouges and cuts that were rapidly becoming infected. He called in a panic asking what oil he should use to help the infection.   I urged him to limp to the nearest health food store and buy tea tree oil, apply a drop or two over each of his open wounds 2-3 times a day. He called back two days later. “little sister…what the heck IS this stuff? Everything is healing so fast!?”  Yep.

2. When my son Gianluca was in kindergarten, the school nurse sent him home one Friday for an infection on his thumb.  When we got home, I sat him down with a bowl of saltwater laced with 3 drops of Tea Tree and had him soak  his little thumb while he watched 2 episodes of Rug Rats.  When were were done with the soak, I put a drop on the infection and covered it with a bandaid.  By Monday it was completely healed.   The school nurse was so impressed she began to keep Tea Tree in her office.

Blends well with:  Personally, I never use Tea Tree in a blend for it’s aroma since it smells strongly medicinal, but rather for it’s specific therapeutic action.

Subtle Properties: (vibrational and energetic):  Tea Tree helps you appreciate the divine gift of health and vital energy.

Safety Information:  Non-toxic, may cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. If oxidized it may cause sensitization.  Can be drying.

My Tea Tree Aromatic Wisdom Insight Card™:

 I am a healing warrior

 I am a trusted companion on the path to health

I uplifts and energizes

I embody life-giving energy on all levels.




1. Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
2. Keville, K. Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, The Crossing press, USA, 1995
3. Mojay G. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Henry Holt and Company Inc., England, 1996
4. Price S. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 2nd edition, Churchill Livingstone, 1999
5. Schnaubelt K. Advanced Aromatherapy, The Science of Essential Oil Therapy, Healing Arts Press, USA, 1998
6. Nye, S. (2006) Aromatic interventions for decubitus ulcer: a case report from South Africa. The International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy 3 (2B): 25-28

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    • This time of year those steam inhalations are particularly important, Gretchen, to help combat sinus issue!


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