The Ultimate Natural Anti-Microbial: Tea Tree/Melaleuca Oil Benefits

April 20, 2020

If you’re at all familiar with essential oils, it’s pretty likely that you’ve heard of tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil). Perhaps one of the most versatile oils, tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits includes acting as a natural antibacterial agent to containing anti-fungal properties to fighting inflammation! It’s truly one powerful and all-encompassing natural remedy.

So, let’s take a closer look at what tea tree/melaleuca oil is, what makes it so powerful, why you need it in your medicine cabinet, and some of the top ways you can use it as an everyday natural remedy.


What is Tea Tree/Melaleuca Oil?

Tea tree/melaleuca oil is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of a small tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Australia. This oil has been used for almost a century in Australia for its therapeutic properties. In fact, Australian legend states that tea tree/melaleuca oil was so highly revered for its therapeutic uses that it was supplied to Australian soldiers in their military kits during World War II!

Even more amazing? Its supply to soldiers was considered to be so important during that time that Melaleuca alternifolia bush cutters were exempt from serving during the war. [1]

Since then, it’s become more popular throughout the world—especially in the last few decades. And this is largely due to its long-known anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. [2]

Today, it’s widely available in many health food and supplement stores throughout Australia, Europe, and the U.S. In fact, you may not be aware that tea tree/melaleuca oil is actually incorporated as the main active ingredient in numerous topical products designed to fight minor skin infections. So, you may already have a formulation containing this amazing oil in your cabinet without even knowing it!

With such an amazing history and its clinically-proven health properties, it’s really no surprise that tea tree/melaleuca oil has become so popular and widely used in recent years. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the amazing tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits.



3 Tea Tree/Melaleuca Oil Benefits and 7 Ways to Use It

Here are three of the top tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits along with many practical ways you can use it at home.

1. Contains antibacterial properties

As we discussed above, one of the top tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits is its antibacterial properties. Amazingly, this ranges from fighting MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a notoriously difficult strain of bacteria to eliminate) to other common strains of bacteria, such as E. coli.

Studies have shown that when compared to conventional treatments, tea tree/melaleuca oil was significantly more effective in treating MRSA carriage. In fact, one study compared treatment using a 4-percent tea tree/melaleuca oil nasal ointment and a 5-percent tea tree/melaleuca oil body wash with mupirocin nasal ointment and Triclosan body wash in 30 participants.

Of the 15 patients receiving conventional treatment, two were cleared of MRSA while eight still carried MRSA. Meanwhile, of the 15 patients in the tea tree/melaleuca oil group, five were cleared of MRSA and only three still carried MRSA. The remainder of patients did not complete therapy. Differences in clearance rates were not statistically significant, most likely due to the low patient numbers. [3]

Additionally, tea tree/melaleuca oil has been shown to be an especially effective ingredient in handwashes and hand sanitizers. Scientists actually conducted a study on its effectiveness due to its known antiseptic properties—and the results were fascinating.

A 2005 study revealed that a handwash containing 5 percent tea tree/melaleuca oil performed significantly better than soft soap. [4]

To take advantage of its antibacterial properties, I personally like to use tea tree/melaleuca oil in deodorants, handwashes, and homemade sanitizers. In fact, here’s a recipe I use at home with great results!


Melaleuca oil benefits - Dr. Pingel


2. Contains anti-fungal properties

Luckily, as an antimicrobial, tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits also extend to including anti-fungal properties. This makes the oil especially beneficial to treating suborn fungal infections such as nail fungus, cold sores, and even dandruff. And researchers have proven just how effective it can be.

In one study, participants with nail fungus used either undiluted tea tree/melaleuca oil or an anti-fungal medication. After a period of six months, researchers found that approximately 60 percent of participants in each group experienced either partial or full resolution of the nail fungus. This shows that tea tree/melaleuca oil may be considered just as effective as anti-fungal medications in the treatment of nail fungus. [5]

Interestingly, dandruff appears to be related to the yeast Pityrosporum ovale, which tea tree/melaleuca oil has been shown to fight. So, over a period of four weeks, researchers decided to test the effectiveness of this oil on stubborn dandruff.

Amazingly, the participants using shampoo containing tea tree/melaleuca oil reported a 41-percent improvement while the placebo group reported an improvement of only 11 percent. The group who used the tea tree/melaleuca oil shampoo also reported statistically significantly reduced itchiness, greasiness, and overall dandruff severity. [6]

I find tea tree/melaleuca oil soaks to be especially helpful for nail fungus. You can just soak a cotton ball and apply it to the infected nail for a few minutes each day. Now, if you find that you have a cold core outbreak, you will want to dilute a few drops of the oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, before applying it to the affected site. This is because tea tree/melaleuca oil can be very irritating to the skin if applied undiluted.

Finally, if you find that you suffer from dandruff, there are many natural shampoos that include tea tree oil. Conversely, you could create your own homemade shampoo, such as this one.

3. Contains inflammation-fighting properties

Finally, another one of the major tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits is its ability to help cool inflammation. In fact, numerous studies and decades of use have proven that, due to this benefit, tea tree/melaleuca oil can actually support skin health via fighting acne and even supporting wound healing!

A 2004 in vitro study revealed that the fumes of tea tree/melaleuca oil contained antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. And a 2010 study followed up on this finding by recruiting participants who had wounds infected with Staphylococcus aureus. The researchers compared wound healing times between conventional treatment alone and conventional treatment plus utilizing the fumes of tea tree/melaleuca oil.

Interestingly, they found that utilizing the fumes of this oil actually decreased healing time in all but one of the participants. The researchers also noted that “the differences between the matched participants were striking” and that additional studies were warranted. [7]

Likewise, another study published in 2019 revealed that using both tea tree/melaleuca and rosemary oils could accelerate wound healing while also decreasing oxidative stress in the wound area. [8]

Finally, when it comes to how tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits acne, studies have shown that this oil is effective in reducing the number of inflamed lesions while also improving scaling, pruritis, and dryness. [9]

Meanwhile, another study found that tea tree/melaleuca oil was 3.5 times more effective at reducing total acne lesions and 5.75 times more effective at improving acne severity when compared to a placebo! [10]

If you find that you have a minor wound or blemish, you may want to try applying a little diluted tea tree/melaleuca oil to the spots of concern once a day to help speed healing and reduce inflammation in that area. Just remember to always avoid using tea tree/melaleuca oil internally, as it’s been shown to contain toxic properties if swallowed. And, as always, you should consult your physician before using any new essential oil on your skin.


Key Takeaways

  • Perhaps one of the most versatile oils, tea tree/melaleuca oil benefits include acting as a natural antibacterial agent to containing anti-fungal properties to fighting inflammation.
  • This oil has been used for almost a century in Australia for its therapeutic properties and was especially useful for Australian soldiers during World War II.
  • Due to its anti-microbial properties, tea tree/melaleuca oil is especially useful in hand soaps, hand sanitizers, and shampoos for fighting dandruff. It's also used topically for skin troubles such as cold sores and to treat nail fungus.
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