The Scientific Evidence of Tea Tree Oil Benefits

Tea tree oil has been used for many years for its antiseptic properties. A natural antimicrobial agent, tea tree oil has been proven effective against both fungus and bacterial strains. In addition, tea tree oil has been shown effective in helping with inflammation due to certain causes. These benefits of tea tree oil have been well-tested.

Beginning with nail fungus, that irritating and hard-to-treat condition, tea tree oil has been studied in its ability to reverse the problem. Using 100% essential tea tree oil as a direct application on the affected nails and surrounding area two times daily for 6 weeks can cure the condition in 18% of patients. That may not be a large percentage, but in 56% of patients, improvements occur in just 3 months and in 60% of patients, 6 months brings noticeable improvements. These results are similar to treatment with common nail fungus ointments made with 1% clotrimazole.

Acne that is not severe, but ranging from mild to moderate, can be greatly improved by the use of a 5% tea tree oil solution. Tea tree oil is effective against the bacteria that cause acne. It shows similar results as using 5% benzoyl peroxide and is gentler to the skin than the benzoyl. However, it does seem to take longer to begin working than the benzoyl.

Athletes foot is another fungal condition which is often challenging to treat. Most people use 1% tolnaftate cream. But tea tree oil in a large concentration (of 25%-50% strength) can do just as well. In fact, using this level of tea tree oil can cure the condition in 50% of users in just four weeks. However, terbinafine and clotrimazole are still more effective than the tea tree oil for clearing up athletes foot.

There is some evidence that thrush infections, caused by yeast (candida albicans) can be cured with tea tree oil. As thrush is an oral condition, the tea tree oil must be diluted significantly to be used as a rinse. It has a very strong smell and taste and can burn if used straight. Adding a few drops to a small glass of water is a good start. It is important to spit it out as tea tree oil is not meant for consumption.

There is some evidence that very diluted tea tree oil solutions (because of the sensitivity of the area) can help fight yeast infections in the vaginal area. The evidence is still preliminary, but studies show that tea tree oil may top fluconazole in treating yeast infections of both the vaginal and oral type.

Finally, while tea tree oil is not always thought of as an anti-inflammatory agent, some studies have recently been done to examine its potential benefits for those who have nickel allergies. When women with this allergy wear earrings containing nickel, the area around the earring hole gets red and inflamed. Early evidence suggests that tea tree oil may be effective in treating this condition.
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