The tea tree oil and a normal tea oil are two very different types of oils that are derived from two different sources. The latter is derived from the seeds of the tea plant (drinking tea), whereas the former is derived from the leaves of the tree which is commonly known as the Narrow-leaved Paperbark. This tree is also known by other names such as the Narrow-leaved Tea-tree, the Narrow-leaved Ti-tree, or even Snow-in-summer. There is no similarity between the plant that gives us the drinking tea and the one that gives us the tea tree oil.
The scientific name of the plant is Melaleuca alternifolia. It is prominently found in swampy regions, where water is plenty almost throughout the year. This plant is a native to Australia and its genesis can be traced back to the New South Wales region that lies on the South eastern pacific coast of Australia. It also grows along the northern coast of the island continent. On the basis of the characteristics that it possesses, the plant is classified into the Melaleuca genus of plants. This plant can either be a tall shrub or a tree.
The leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia that are processed to obtain the tea tree oil, have a very peculiar appearance. They are linear in nature and have a length of about 10 to 35 mm, with a significant breadth of 1 mm. The flowers that are white in color and have a woody appearance. These flowers have a diameter of about 2 - 3 mm.
Uses of the Oil
The oil has been in use for a very long period of time and its magical properties were discovered and used by the Bundjalung community people, who were the natives of the eastern coast of Australia. The oil has strong antiseptic properties and hence, it is used in various topical medicines. In the same manner, it can be used as a remedy against lice, dandruff, thrush, boils, eczema, and psoriasis.
It is also used as a medication for many other diseases, such as athlete's foot, vaginitis, periodontal disease, and for different yeast infection treatments. Most of the time, various forms of the oil are used in cosmetics and body care products. As a body care agent, the oil is widely used in products like shampoos, and skin care lotions/creams.
The oral intake of this oil can have untoward effects. If swallowed, it can cause severe rashes, blood cell abnormalities, stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, hallucinations, confusion, drowsiness, and even coma.
The usage of tea tree oil has grown so substantially, that people have also started the commercial cultivation of the shrubs.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.