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Aromatherapy: Tea Tree Oil Benefits
Tea Tree oil is gaining more mainstream popularity. Long used in the aromatherapy industry, its health benefits are being touted by many companies who include it in their products.

What is tea tree oil? Its Latin name is Melaleuca alternifolia and it comes from a tree. Melaleuca trees are native to Australia although they are now also propagated in California. The common name 'tea tree' was given when British explorers used the leaves to brew tea. It's antiseptic use has been in existence for hundreds of years, but has only recently been scientifically studied (starting in 1929).
The 'official' studying of tea tree oil led to ever increasing interest. Tea tree oil was even supplied in first aid kits to soldiers in the Australian army.

After harvesting, the leaves of the tree are put into a still and pressurized steam is forced through them. The steam, which extracts the essential oils, then is cooled and the tea tree oil is separated from the water.

Some of the reported benefits of tea tree oil include: antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Antiseptic means that it will kill bacteria, such as those that cause acne. Tea tree oil has been shown to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide in controlling acne, without the irritation and skin drying that accompanies that treatment. Anti-fungal means that it will kill fungus or yeast spores. Tea tree oil used in shampoos can control dandruff by eliminating that fungus from the scalp.

If you have never smelled neat tea tree oil, prepare yourself. It is incredibly strong and smells of a disinfectant. Some people enjoy the smell, but most people find it to be displeasing. However, tea tree can be blended with other essential oils to work with and mask the odor. Tea tree oil is used for its medicinal properties - not its scent!

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