Application cutanée, massage
Voie respiratoire, diffusion
The tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) native to Australia, belongs to the Myrtacaea family.
It is leafy, with upright branches and evergreen, it can reach up to seven metres and has small lanceolate leaves. Its fruits are small capsules containing elongated seeds and its flowers have five petals and are very fragrant.
Why call a tree that has nothing to do with tea "tea tree"? It was discovered in Australia by the naturalists accompanying Cook on his second voyage in the Endeavour (1772-1775), when it was given this misleading name. Did its leaves actually replace the tea that the great navigator's crew lacked so direly? Another version says that an Australian lake where ill people who bathed in it were healed was surrounded by beneficial trees whose leaves fell into the water and infused under the sun. Whatever the truth, the healing virtues used by the Aboriginals were so obvious that the soldiers from the Second World War Australian expeditionary force included tea tree in their field pharmacy.
Cultivation and production
The genus includes more than eighty species which grow especially in Australia, but also in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Borneo, Java and Sumatra.
The essential oil of tea tree has a strong turpentine and camphor-like odour, even though it does not contain any camphor.
Extraction and yield
The essential oil of tea tree is extracted by steam distillation of leaves with a yield of 1%. 1 kilogram of essential oil for one hundred kilograms of plant.
The main active components of essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia are monoterpenols (48%): terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, monoterpenes (40%) and sesquiterpenes (10%).
Essential oil of tea tree is strongly anti-infectious, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is also anti-viral and acts against influenza, dengue, chikungunya and eruptive diseases of childhood. It treats through its broad spectrum all mouth (mouth ulcers, gingivitis), ENT and bronchial domain (sinusitis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, tracheitis and bronchitis) and digestive system (enteritis and enterocolitis) infections. It is also used successfully for all cutaneous infections, parasites and fungi (acne, cuts, herpes, psoriasis, Herpes zoster, warts, dry patches, cutaneous, genital, skin fold mycoses, athletes foot, etc.) It also has a decongestant and tonifying action.
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.