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Essential Oils: Tea Tree

I was never really into the Miss Universe Pageant until our country hosted it for the second time in 1994. At that time, it was Ms. Charlene Gonzales, a popular actress and TV personality, who represented the Philippines. Although I joined our entire nation in cheering for her, I already had my adolescent heart captivated by Christelle Roelandts, Ms. Belgium. But what was most memorable was the final question, which winner, Ms. Sushmita Sen of India, answered to perfection: What is the essence of a woman?

Much like with probably the most quoted line from The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye,” it is quite difficult to capture the essence of something. The process of finding the very core and substance of anything at all is most challenging. The same goes with essential oils.

Plants contain natural oils. When these oils are extracted via distillation, what is achieved are highly concentrated versions of these oils. These purified forms are what are called essential oils. And while there are many essential oils, I would like to highlight one in particular: tea tree.

Tea tree oil or melalueca alternifolia is a plant that is native to Australia. For at least a hundred years, the oil from this plant has been cultivated and used for various purposes. Because of its powerful antiseptic properties, tea tree oil has been used to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi for generations. This makes it a perfect hand sanitizer. Not only is it useful as a common household cleaner and insect repellant, but it also boosts the healing of wounds. Even better, tea tree oil is one of the best in providing all natural cosmetic benefits.

Tea tree oil or TTO is good for the hair. Mixing several drops of it with aloe vera gel, coconut milk, and lavender oil can help soothe dry, flaking skin in the scalp, thus remove dandruff. It is even good for treating lice. This essential oil is fabulous for the face as well. A 5% solution (a few drop of TTO with 20-40 drops of witch hazel) applied once or twice a day is perfect for clearing acne. Be careful not to overuse it, though, as it can still dry out skin. In addition, stay out of the sun since TTO makes skin more sensitive to UV rays. TTO is a good makeup remover, too. Mix 10 drops of it and ¼ cup canola oil. Shake it until blended. Store it in a cool, dark place. When ready, use it with cotton balls to remove any make up on your face. Remember to rinse your face well with warm water and follow with applying toner.

TTO is also good for both hands and feet. For one, it softens dry cuticles. A mixture of 1 tbsp jojoba oil, 1 tbsp avocado oil, 10 drops of TTO, and 10 drops of lavender oil helps to counter cracked and ragged cuticles. When making this mixture, make sure to use a dark-colored glass bottle to help preserve the oil. First mix the jojoba and avocado oils. Then add the tea tree and lavender oils. Shake well and massage into nails and cuticles daily. Tea tree oil is fantastic in fighting foot odor as well. Mix 1 tbsp dried rosemary, 1 tbsp dried sage, 1 tbsp fresh ginger, and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove it from the heat, cover it, and let it soak for 10 minutes. Strain the solution, adding 1 tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp Epsom salts, and 10 drops of TTO. Mix well. Pour it into a basin, top it with crushed ice, and soak your feet for 15 minutes. This is guaranteed to reduce sweatiness, fight odor, and stimulate circulation in your feet, leaving them fresh and clean. You can also apply a drop or two of 100% TTO to discolored nails to help eliminate toenail fungus and ringworm. Be careful not apply it to the skin as it may cause irritation. Similarly, a mixture of a few drops of this essential oil and 1 tbsp of witch hazel helps to relieve athlete’s foot. Apply it with a cotton swab three times a day, but discontinue use if a rash develops.

Though tea tree oil can be strong, it is still safe to use in sensitive areas of the body. For example, a solution of 10 drops of TTO with 2 tbsp olive oil or witch hazel applied twice a day can banish jock itch. On the other hand, yeast infections can be treated with a mix of 5 drops TTO, 5 drops lavender oil, and distilled water. Just dab the infected area using a cotton swab.

Because of the incredible potency of tea tree, the essential oil derived from its distillation can manage various skin conditions, ranging from minor to severe. A dab of tea tree oil several times a day is effective against boils and staph infections. A drop on a swab can soothe skin sores since it acts as an antiseptic (just avoid the eyes and mouth). Cold sores can be reduced by applying TTO directly three or four times a day (again, avoid ingestion as TTO is toxic). It is even an effective treatment for chicken pox. Just mix few drops of TTO with 1 tbsp olive oil. Use cotton swabs to apply to sores two or three times a day. Aside from chicken pox, tea tree oil relieves psoriasis and eczema along with other skin cancers. For the former, dilute a few drops of TTO in olive oil, then apply several times a day. For the latter, mix frankincense oil, raspberry seed oil, and TTO, and then apply three times a day.

In essence (pun intended), a drop of tea tree oil contains an ocean of health benefits. From repellants to deodorants to antiseptics to ointments, tea tree oil has got it covered. Truly, tea tree oil has proven that what is essential is invisible to the eye. And if I may add, the health benefits of this essential oil are more than skin deep.







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