Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been increasingly popular over the last decades, although its essential oil has been used in Australia by Aborigines for centuries. Tea tree should not be confused with the common tea plant that is used to make black and green tea.
In traditional medicine, tea tree oil has used topically for various infections including acne, fungal infections of the foot and nails, lice, and also for cuts and abrasions, for burns, insect bites and stings, boils, and many other external infections.
When applying an essential tea tree oil to the face, it must be diluted (a few drops of tea tree oil with 20 to 40 drops of some base such as aloe vera cream or coconut oil), and applied gently to the skin twice a day. It must not be overused as it can dry out your skin and cause it to overproduce its own oils.
Tea tree oil is rich with several monoterpenes (terpinen‐4‐ol, α‐terpinene, 1,8‐cineol, p‐cymene, α‐terpineol, α‐pinene, terpinolene, limonene, and sabinene). All monoterpenes have antiseptic properties and they are thought to be psychologically uplifting.
Apart from anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties shown in numerous studies, one study recently showed that terpinen‐4‐ol, a monoterpene from tea‐tree oil, “induces a significant growth inhibition of colorectal, pancreatic, prostate and gastric cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner”.
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