Tea tree oil has a strong, aromatic odor similar to camphor, and a color which ranges from pale yellow to nearly clear. It is obtained from the leaves of the melaleuca alternifolia tree native to the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia.
The bark of the tree is light and flakey; the leaves are small, evergreen and alternately arranged. Its flowers are produced in dense clusters along the stems and come in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, pale yellow and greenish.
The fruit of the melaleuca tree is actually a small capsule with very small seeds inside. When open, the flowers are puffy and feathery similar to dandelion plants common in America.
- Tea tree oil has been used for hundreds of years by Australian tribes.
- Tea tree oil is available in everything from toothpaste and mouthwash to soap and skin care products.
- For hundreds of years, tea tree oil has been revered in eastern Australia as an extract to promote wellness and as a skin cleanser, and for its antiseptic properties. The oil itself, however, did not gain wide popularity until the 1920s and 1930s.
- There are approximately 98 compounds in tea tree oil, but the main active ingredients are terpinen-4-ol, 1,8-cineole, gamma-terpinene, p-cymene and other turpenes. Terpinen-4-ol and cineole have antiseptic properties.
- Tea tree oil is used in pet shampoos to kill ticks and fleas, and to ease the itching of insect bites.
Please note: Tea tree oil should not be confused with tea oil the sweet seasoning and cooking oil or with the tea oil plant. Tea tree oil can be toxic when taken internally, so it should never be added to teas, foods, or other beverages.
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