Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca, is used for just about every type of skin condition. Used topically, tea tree oil is purported to ease and heal skin from head to toe. Supporters that tea tree essential oil can treat fungal problems, warts, head and scalp conditions. It can be used as a gargle for cold and sore throats. However, tea tree oil can have negative side effects that must be considered before use.


Tea tree oil should never be ingested. According to the Mayo Clinic (see Resources), there are reports that ingesting tea tree oil orally can lead to toxicity.


Topical use of tea tree oil can produce skin irritation. It is best to mix the essential oil with Vitamin E or Aloe Vera (at least 80 per cent pure) to avoid skin irritation.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a January 2007 study cautioning that tea tree oil may cause breast growth in boys. The study focused on hormones that stimulate breast growth or inhibit it. In the cases in which boys showed breast enlargement, all had used wither tea tree oil or lavender soaps, shampoos or other such skin care products. (See Resources)



Do not use tea tree oil in ears or eyes. Keep the oil away from pets and small children. There are reports of tea tree oil poisoning dogs. Since there have been no studies about the effects of tea tree oil on pregnant or lactating women, they should avoid use and contact.


Expert Insight

The Mayo Clinic advises that while there are a number of laboratory studies that confirm tea tree oil’s antimicrobial properties, no “high quality studies have been published.” There seems to be little scientific or medical evidence to support the claims made about tea tree oil.