Essential oils have been used for healing and medicinal purposes for centuries and most certainly long before we had pills, capsules and big pharma to take care of our medical woes. And while there is a place for manufactured pharmaceuticals in our survival medicine kit, there exists the possibility that none will be available or that they will be in such scarce supply that they should be reserved for only the most dire of circumstances.
For that reason, many preppers and individuals seeking self-reliance are learning to use essential oils to manage the both routine and not-so-routine maladies that occur in daily life. There are about a dozen or so essential oils that belong in every survival kit including tea tree, peppermint, lavender, clove, rosemary and lemon among others. All of these essential oils have healing properties but today I would like to focus on just one, tea tree oil.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TEA TREE OIL
It is believed that the Aborigines of Australia have been using the leaves of the indigenous Malaleuca Tree (whose leaves are used to make tea tree oil) in their medications for centuries. They inhaled the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds, sprinkled crushed leaves on their wounds and used an infusion of soaked leaves to treat sore throats or skin ailments.
Use of the oil itself, as opposed to the un-extracted plant material, did not become common practice until researcher Arthur Penfold published the first reports of its antimicrobial activity in a series of papers in the 1920s and 1930s. In evaluating the antimicrobial activity, he found that tea tree oil was 11 times more active than phenol.
The commercial tea tree oil industry was born shortly thereafter although interest in tea tree oil ebbed after World War II, presumably due to the development of effective antibiotics and the waning image of natural products. Interest was rekindled in the 1970s as part of the general renaissance of interest in natural products.
80 USES OF TEA TREE OIL FOR SURVIVAL
For thousands of years, the derivatives of the Malaleuca Tree have been effective in treating a wide variety of ailments. Here are 80 reasons why you should use it, too!
- Abrasions & Minor Cuts: After cleaning the area well, apply a few drops of the oil directly. If a bandage is needed, allow a few drops of the oil to penetrate a cotton ball, then lay it face down on the wound with a bandage on top.
- Acne: Add a drop to your normal cleansing routine or dab a very small amount on acne breakouts. You can also add 20 – 40 drops of the oil to your regular face wash.
- Air Freshener: Keep a supply of cotton balls soaked in tea tree oil packed away in a plastic bag or tin. When confronted with foul smells from cooking, musty orders from dampness or even the medicinal smell in a sick room, take a few out the freshen the air and remove the nasty smell
- Allergies: Use topically by massaging into the chest, abdomen or the reflex points of the feet.
- Arthritis: To help reduce pain associated with the swelling of arthritis, add 20 drops of tea tree oil to 2 ounces of grapeseed or other carrier oil. Massage into affected area 2-3 times a day.
- Asthma: Add a few drops of oil to a pan of water and heat on stove. When cooling, drape a towel over head and breath in for a few minutes.
- Athletes Foot: Clean feet thoroughly, especially between toes. Add oil directly to feet every two weeks, dusting with corn starch after. Or add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of grapeseed or other carrier oil and massage on feet and between toes daily.
- Baby Care: Keep your diaper pail clean and fresh with a spray of tea tree oil mixed with water.
- Bacterial Infections: Use topically, either massaging into the reflex points of the feet, adding several drops to a bath or cautiously applying over an infected site.
- Bad Breath: Rinse with 1 ounce water and 1 drop oil. Do not swallow!
- Bladder Infection: In a shallow bath, add 10 – 15 drops of oil. Sit and wash area carefully.
- Blisters: Wash area carefully, then apply as for cuts and wounds.
- Boils: Apply a warm washcloth for a few minutes. Then apply a drop or two of oil to the area – the infection should rise to surface and eventually be released.
- Bronchial Congestion: Use as directed for Asthma. Add 5 – 10 drops to 1 ounce of carrier oil, and massage into chest and throat 2 – 3 times daily.
- Bronchitis: Add 1-2 drops to a pan of hot water and breath in the steam, or massage the oil over the chest.
- Bruises: After icing, apply oil as directed for Arthritis.
- Bunions: Massage area with 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp. of carrier oil.
- Burns: Run icy cold water on area. After a few minutes, add a mix of 5 drops oil with 1 tsp. raw honey. Repeat 3 – 5 times daily.
- Calluses & Corns: Massage area with 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp. of carrier oil. Repeat 2 times daily. Once the corn or calluses have become soft use tweezers to remove, and apply a few drops of tea tree oil and cover with bandage.
- Canker Sores: Apply a drop or two of oil directly to infected area with a cotton swab, 2 times daily. Also, rinse as directed for bad breath.
- Carbuncles: Add a drop or two of oil to cotton swab and apply directly to carbuncle. Repeat twice daily.
- Chapped Lips: Add 1 or 2 drops of oil to lip balm. Apply to lips as necessary.
- Chicken Pox: Apply a drop of oil directly to blisters. Allow to dry, then dust with corn starch. Repeat every few hours or until blisters disappear.
- Chigger Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
- Cold Sores: Apply a drop or two of oil directly to the sore with a cotton swab. Re-apply 2 – 3 times daily.
- Coughs: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes.
- Dandruff: Add 20 – 30 drops oil to any shampoo. Apply a few drops to scalp and massage after washing.
- Dermatitis: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of grapeseed or other oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily.
- Dry Skin: Add 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp sweet almond oil. Massage into skin.
- Earache and Infection: Add 2 – 3 drops of oil to 2 tbsp warm olive oil. With a dropper, drop a small amount into aching ear, tilting head to one side for a moment. Use cotton swab to absorb oil. Repeat 2 – 3 times daily.
- Eczema: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or coconut oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
- Emphysema: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes.
- Flea Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
- Gout: Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil; massage into affected area 2-3 times a day.
- Gum Disease: Create a mouthwash with purified water, 1 drop of peppermint and 1 drop of tea tree oil.
- Head Lice: Add 20 drops of oil to 2 tbsp shampoo. Massage into scalp and hair, leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat 3 – 4 times daily, until eggs are gone.
- Hives: Add 10 drops of oil to 4 tbsp of witch hazel. Apply with cotton ball. Or, mix with coconut oil (which is naturally healing and soothing itself) and gently apply to the infected areas.
- Homemade Mouthwash: Make a simple homemade mouthwash with purified water and tea tree oil.
- Household Cleaning: Can be used aromatically or added to homemade cleaners to kill germs and prevent the spread of colds and flus. You can make a general tea tree cleaner by combining 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend and use for household cleaning tasks. This is especially good in the bathroom and in toilets.
- Immune System: To stimulate the immune system, diffuse through the air on a regular basis, massage into the soles of the feet to increase your immune response.
- Infected Wounds: Adding the oil to steaming water, hold the infected area over the steam. Or dilute 1 drop of tea tree with 1 cup of water and rinse the infected area 1-2 times a day, as needed.
- Inflammation: Massage over the inflamed areas, gently and always toward the heart, or diffuse and inhale the tea tree oil directly or indirectly.
- Ingrown Hairs: Add 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to area. Repeat every 2 hours or until signs of infection disappear.
- Insect Repellant: Add 15 drops to a quart of water and use as an effective insect repellent.
- Jock Itch: Apply 10 – 15 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil. Apply 2 times daily. Dust with corn starch, to reduce chapping.
- Laryngitis: Add 5 – 10 drops of oil and pinch of sea salt to 1 cup of warm water, gargle 2-3 times a day. Do not swallow!
- Laundry Helper: Add 1/2 teaspoon tea tree oil to your laundry for towels and other fabric prone to getting moldy.
- Mildew and Mold Remover: Spray an all-purpose cleaner made with 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and 2 cups of water on growing mold and mildew. Shake well before using and do not rinse.
- Mosquito Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
- Muscle Aches and Pains: Add 10-15 drops of oil to half cup Epsom salts, and dissolve in bath. Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil. Massage well.
- Mumps: Massage over the body and into the feet, and diffuse through the home.
- Nail Fungus: Add 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to nail and the surrounding tissue. Allow to dry completely on hands before touching anything. Repeat morning and night for a week.
- Pest Control: Household ants and other pests dislike Tea Tree Oil, so a few drops put at the point of entry will deter them. Wipe cupboards out with an oil and water solution to keep ants away.
- Plantar Warts: Apply oil undiluted to affected area 2-3 times daily.
- Psoriasis: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
- Rashes: Mix with coconut oil and massage over the affected areas.
- Rheumatism: To help reduce pain associated with rheumatism, add 20 drops of tea tree oil to 2 ounces of carrier oil. Massage into affected are 2-3 times a day.
- Ringworm: Apply a drop or two of oil undiluted, repeat 2 times daily. Can also mix 1 drop of tea tree oil with 1 drop of lavender oil for added benefit.
- Rubella: Dilute as needed and massage into the affected areas.
- Scabies: Apply 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to area in the morning and at night.
- Sciatica: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
- Seborrhea: For skin: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. For scalp: Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp shampoo. Massage into scalp and hair, leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat 3 – 4 times daily. Bath: Add 10-15 drops of oil to bath.
- Shingles: Add 10-15 drops of oil to half cup Epsom salts, and dissolve in bath. Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil or coconut oil and massage well.
- Shock: Massage tea tree oil into the soles of the feet as needed.
- Sinusitis: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes. Also add 2 drops to a neti pot.
- Sore muscles: Fill your bathtub with warm water. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the water to relax tight muscles.
- Sore Throat: Add 2 drops of oil to 1 cup of warm water with pinch of sea salt, gargle 2-3 times a day. Do not swallow!
- Staph Infection: Best used topically, rubbed into the soles of the feet to increase the immune response and fight infection.
- Stye: Add 5 drops oil to a pan of steaming water. Drape towel overhead and steam 5 minutes. Apply warm compresses directly to stye.
- Sunburn: Mix 1 TB coconut oil with 1 drop of tea tree and 1 drop of lavender and gently apply to to sunburned areas.
- Tattoos: Apply after tattoos to avoid infection. Use undiluted, diluted with fractionated coconut oil or as a spray with purified water.
- Thrush: Gargle with sea salt, warm water and 1 drop of tea tree oil.
- Ticks: Apply a drop or two directly to the tick and the surrounding area.
- Toenail fungus: Rub the tea tree oil directly onto the affected toenail and underneath the tip of the nail. Apply 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil. Apply the oil once a day, preferably at bedtime.
- Toothbrush Cleaner: Apply oil directly to toothbrush 1-2 times a week to kill bacteria.
- Tonsillitis: Inhale from steaming water with tea tree, gargle, and massage into neck and soles of feet.
- Vaginal Infection: Add several drops to the bath water.
- Viral Infections:Diffusetea tree oil throughout the home or inhale from steaming water.
- Warts: Apply undiluted directly to wart. Use morning and night, until wart begins to disappear. Dilute if necessary for sensitive skin.
- Wounds: Soak wounded area in water with tea tree oil, or spritz from a bottle of water with several drops of oil. Depending on the wound and your own sensitivity you may be able to apply directly.
A NOTE ABOUT CARRIER OILS
In order to effectively use essential oils – not just tea tree oil – it is often necessary to dilute the essential oil in another oil so that it can be easily spread or massaged on the affected area. These oils are called “carrier” oils. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil and others.
Fractionated coconut oil and grapeseed oil are favorites because they are odorless and in the case of fractionated coconut oil, immune to rancidity. In practical use, any oil can be used if you do not have one of these more therapeutic oils on hand.
The properties of the various carrier oils is beyond the scope of this article but my favorite? Easy. Fractionated coconut oil. Is is relatively inexpensive, odorless and has a long shelf life making it perfect for the survival kit.
THE FINAL WORD
My first experience with tea tree oil occurred in the 80s when I was faced with a nail fungus that would not go away. The pharmaceutical solutions at the time (and for all I know, even now) were harsh and required frequent monitoring of liver enzymes. For a simple, non-life threatening nail fungus, I chose to pass. After using a topical application of tea tree oil for three months, the fungus was all but gone.
I then became interested in aromatherapy (which uses essential oils). I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the sum of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.
Since then I have used essential oils off and on for a variety of woes and have never been disappointed. My recommendation is that you pick up a few essential oils – and especially some tea tree oil – and start to use them now to supplement any other remedies that you are using to keep your family and your home in tip top shape.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!