Tea Tree Oil: A Brief Overview
Tea tree oil is a popular natural remedy with a variety of uses. It is also known as melaleuca oil and comes from the leaves of the tea tree plant, which is native to the southeast coast of Australia. Tea tree oil has been used for centuries by the aboriginal people of Australia as an herbal medicine and antiseptic.
Today, tea tree oil is promoted for external use to treat a variety of conditions such as acne, athlete's foot, lice, nail fungus, cuts, mite infections at the base of the eyelids, and insect bites. However, only a small amount of research has been conducted on the topical use of tea tree oil for these conditions in humans.
Research has been limited to a few small studies on each of the following conditions: acne, lice, athlete's foot, nail fungus, and mite infection at the base of the eyelids. While some of these studies suggest that tea tree oil may be helpful for certain conditions such as acne and athlete's foot, the overall research is insufficient to draw clear conclusions about the effectiveness of tea tree oil for these uses.
Some early research shows promise for tea tree oil in treating mite infections at the base of the eyelids (ocular demodicosis), but the current evidence is insufficient for a clear conclusion.
While tea tree oil is generally safe for external use, it should not be swallowed. Oral ingestion can cause serious symptoms such as confusion, loss of muscle coordination, breathing problems, and coma. Most people can use topical products containing tea tree oil without problems, but some may develop contact dermatitis or skin irritation on the parts of the body where the product was used. It is also unclear whether tea tree oil is safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
As with any complementary health approach, it is important to discuss the use of tea tree oil with your healthcare provider to make informed decisions about your health.