Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is said to have been discovered by British sailors somewhere close to Sydney, Australia in the year 1770.
It is distilled from the Melaleuca tree, an exotic plant species with a wide, white-colored trunk ensconced by paper-like bark. The leaves appear thin and oval in shape.
It is said to by a member of the Eucalyptus family and sometimes referred to as a ‘punk tree.’
Botany Bay is where Captain James Cook landed while aboard the H.M.S. Endeavor. There he discovered natives brewing a concoction of viscous, camphor-like leaves taken from the Melaleuca tree.
Before the widespread use of antibiotics and prescriptions, the natives of Australia told of the healing properties contained within the leaf of the tree.
“Crushed leaves applied directly to an injury, then held in place with a mud pack” says the site Survival Enterprise.
“This poultice helped fight infection in the wound.”
With no access to their own forms of medicine, the English were willing to use the plant for its healing uses.
Throughout much of recent history, tea tree oil has been identified as having antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and preventative qualities. Also noted, is tea tree oil’s ability to reduce plaque buildup and improve gum health when a few drops of oil are swabbed over the infected area, or added to toothpaste. Try to look for natural skin & body care brands advertising tea tree oil as an ingredient.
Many years later, sometime during the 1920’s, Dr. Arthur Penfold of Australia, alongside partner F.R. Morrison, began authoring studies supporting the use of essential tea tree oil as an antiseptic in “Australian Tea Trees of Economic Value.”
Dr. Penfold found that using the essential oil was exponentially more potent in preventing disease than carbolic acid, according to scientific journals of the period.
Following the release of this study, the Australian Government began to implement tea tree oil in medical kits given to soldiers during WWII.
According to this historic retelling, foot fungus became rampant among the men serving in the war and in the hospitals. Others reports note that tea tree oil was often praised for its natural ability to repel bugs and insects.
According to reports, tea tree oil moved from the spotlight of the Australian health industry when antibiotics were introduced.
In a series of blind studies printed by New York University, tea tree oil was found beneficial in treatment of the following: killing viruses, fungi and bacteria with contact; acne; athlete’s foot; gum inflammation; dandruff and head lice.
According to the site Alternative Medicine, “Tea tree oil has pain-numbing properties and can be used topically for sprains, arthritis, bunions, bursitis, eczema, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hemorrhoids.
“It is best to use products containing essential tea tree oil, since the pure essential oil would be irritating to sensitive areas,” the site’s authors say.
Today this historic essential oil can be found in many places. There is now tea tree oil bar soap, body wash, shampoo and all sorts of other natural personal hygiene products featuring this useful essential oil. Due to it’s potential healing powers, tea tree oil is often implemented in certain home remedies, or homemade cures.