The ti-tree plant is not related to the Bushells and other type of cuppa plant which is Camellia sinensis (aka Thea sinensis).  This is the one they pick leaves from and turn them into black, green, oolong and white tea.

Nor is it the one they make the green, leafy hula skirts out of in Honolulu: Ti (plant), Cordyline fruticosa, in the family Laxmanniaceae, formerly treated in the family Agavaceae.

The one we are talking about is Melaleuca alternifolia from which tea tree oil is obtained, in the family Myrtaceae.

The oil is obtained through distilling every part of the plant – leaves and branches – which are pruned all year round, and you can actually take a ti-tree tour in some of the farms in the north of New South Wales and there are ‘cellar door’ sales.

Note that the chemical makeup is: Terpinene-4-01 (up to 30%), cineol, pinene, terpinenes, cymene, sesquiterpenes, sespuiterpene alcohols. If you are allergic to any of these things, don’t use it.

It gives us not just the oil that has become so famous and versatile as European man has caught up with the Australian aborigines and discovered what they did with it, but also Captain Cook brewed its dried leaves into a cuppa.  It is a pungent and asringent brew but a great pick me up, and good when you have a cold. The Aborigines of Australia use ti tree leaves chewing them straight off the bush to alleviate headaches, boiling the leaves and sticks into a tea and using it as a lotion, inhaling the powerful smell to clear the head and so on. Ti tree oil contains a natural astringent (Terpinen-4-ol) and that is just one of over ninety compounds found in it. As a natural astringent, ti tree oil has been found useful in treating a number of common health problems, almost exclusively regarding skin and cosmetic problems.

It is on my list of potions you should not be without in your house.  Its properties are also being investigated in the treatment of HIV Aids but, apart from therapeutic aromatic and topical applications, it has not been subjected to any scientific testing to my knowledge.

First some cautions:

Though it is non-toxic and non-irritant when diluted and isn’t regarded as a poison by the medical board, some people are sensitive to it and may develop skin ulcers if it is applied to infections. The strength of Ti Tree oil is high, akin to full-strength alcohol.  Never put it on the body or in particularly sensitive areas full strength as it can burn.  Because it has not been tested scientifically, it is a trial and error ‘cure’.  It may not be the magic answer to every disease but I LOVE it.  Use a proportion of common sense when applying it to your needs.  For instance, I am not sure that it can cure cancer. But some people claim it does.  Thai people claim it prevents and cures HIV.  But I wouldn’t bet on that.  But I am sure that the natural fungal and bacterial properties would be of assistance.

Therefore, I am advocating this natural chemical to replace many others that require transport, bottling, advertising and other unnecessarily carbon-wasting steps in consumption!

Tea tree oil is featured in soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, disinfectants, gargles, germicides and increasingly in aftershaves and spicy colognes. You can make your own versions of any of these.
Note: do not put it on at full strength as you will cause burning and further irritation.

Steam Inhalations

2 drops of tea tree oil in a bowl of steaming water. Cover head and inhale for

5-10 minutes. To relieve congestion and fight infection.

Cold Sores and Herpes

Bathe whenever you feel a twinge or any discomfort.  2-3 drops to a cup of water.  You can also add it to baby oil at double that ratio (6 drops to a cup) for an effective treatment that will stop the cracking of scabs.  You can also add it into Vaseline 2 drops to a tablespoon for the same effect or for treating mossie bites.

Massage with Tea Tree oil

Add 3-5 drops of Tea Tree oil to 30ml of base oil and massage in for rheumatic pain. Twice daily.

Cleaning difficult areas of BBQ & Oven.

It is a great cleaner for baked on grease.  You can use up to full strength here if you are desperate.  Wear rubber gloves.  Used this way it is expensive though.  It dissolves baked on grease.

Bathing with Tea Tree oil

As a disinfectant measure add approximately 3-5 drops to the bath water. Helps with skin infections.

Immune System Treatment

Massage once weekly with a blend of 3-5 drops of Tea Tree oil to 30ml of base oil. To help strengthen the immune system.

Home disinfectant

One teaspoon to a litre of water makes a great air freshener.

If you want to use it as a Dettol substitute the mix would need to be stronger – ½ cup to a litre.

In either case, shake before using.

You can also add a few drops to your furniture oil to increase the disinfectant properties.  Do NOT put it on polished wood in any strength.  It will dissolve varnish or French polish.

Dog wash

Add a few drops of Ti-tree and lavender oils to your dog’s bath to keep insects at bay, to reduce summer itch and make the dog smell great (for a few minutes anyway till they roll in horse manure …).  Do not go overboard.  A couple of drops are ALL that you need.  It is super strong.  Any more could irritate.

Treating acne.

It is a proven astringent. A standard recipe for acne relief using ti tree oil includes both direct application of pure oil to the infected blemishes (but that is drastic and may burn or cause ulcers) and a home made lotion containing 3-5 drops of 100% pure oil in aloe vera gel can be applied to the face and left on overnight.

Athlete’s foot

Ti Tree oil is an antifungal agent and  its camphoraceous smell is better than anything! Ti tree oil in 50% solution with baby oil or coconut oil can be applied to the feet for a period of a few weeks to rid yourself of athlete’s foot.  Add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to a  foot bath and soak while you are watching the news on telly!.


When I was traveling around the Torres Strait Islands, the locals told me that they used it to cure and prevent the spread of scabies, those little mites that crawl under the skin and itch. Again, mix with aloe vera cream to make it milder.  Just a few drops in a cup of water is a good hand wash.

H1N1 prevention

add 5 drops of Ti-tree to your bathroom hand-washer or ‘soft soap’. Don’t get conned into forking out dollars for that bacterial wash.  It is the TIME you spend washing that is important.  Rub for 20 seconds right up to the wrists. Treat door knobs with a wipe of full-strength or 50% ti-tree in water.

Spider Bite

Mixing a 50% solution to sorbelene cream (cheap from chemist) lotion makes an effective antibiotic cream. However, some spider bites should not be treated with this solution nor should it be used on eczema which reacts to sorbolene.

Head lice

Mix 50% pure ti tree oil with Johnson’s baby soap.  Grate it, heat it and add water till you have a shampoo like consistency.  Use full strength ti-tree on the nit comb to kill the eggs on the hair strands.

Shoe Deodorizer

Put a cotton wool ball soaked in Ti tree oil as a shoe deodorizer. You should wipe out the interior of the shoe first then leave the ball in there between uses.

Anti-fungal bathroom spray

A few drops in a spray bottle of water will treat mildew in bathrooms, kitchens, and other humid areas.

Laundry additive

Add a spoonful of tea tree oil to your laundry to help get rid of mouldy clothes and linens.  Treat visible mould with full strength ti-tree as a pre-wash treatment.  Rub it till the black spots fade then wash as normal.  Hang clothes in the sun.

Garden Spray

One tablespoon of pure ti tree oil in a spray bottle mixed with vegetable oil 30%, water 30% and water for the rest.  Insecticidal and needs to coat both sides of leaves to be effective.

Immuno-stimulant Properties of ti tree oil

It could be a preventative remedy to help the body fight off all kinds of infection when taken as a very weak tea.  You can just put one drop in a cup of lemon tea.  This is unproved but it does seem to build up the immune system.

Steam bath for general illnesses and infections

You can use as an inhalant or in a hot bath a few drops ONLY to treat respiratory or genito-urinary tract infections, including sinusitis, bronchitis or cystitis, Asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sinusitis, tuberculosis, whooping cough. If you have a sauna put some drops on the coals. Do not stop taking your prescribed medication, particularly for asthma and when testing for the first time, have your puffer standing by in case this is not right for you.

Anti-viral Properties of tea tree oil

Ti Tree is effective in fighting many common infectious diseases such as measles, chicken pox, flu, cold and shingles, as well as other viral complaints i.e. cold sores, verrucae and warts.  Use both topically and as an inhalant.  1-2 drops in a bowl of hot water, put a towel over your head and breathe.

Fungus treatment

There are positive results in the treatment of ringworm and thrush (candida) plus fungal diseases affecting animals fish and plants.


Mix 1-5 drops in a cup of baby oil for this purpose. Rub on required pressure points.

General Skin care

Abscesses, acne, athlete’s foot, blisters, burns, cold sores, dandruff, herpes, insect bites, oily skin, rashes (nappy rash), spots, verrucae, warts, wounds each has its own requirements.  Be CAREFUL when using it as it may exacerbate your problem.  Mix with something reliable such as aloe vera cream or marigold cream and tread carefully.

A final caution:

All of the above uses are reported successes.  The jury is still out on the medical effectiveness but that’s the way with all herbal potions so treat it with caution!

DO NOT stop taking prescribed medicine and if your symptoms persist please see your doctor!

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