Latin names and synonyms: Melaleuca alternifolia, Ti-tree, Paperbark tree
This small elegant tree grows in Australia and is farmed specifically for its essential oil, with the hydrolat being a pleasant by-product. Legend has it that the tree got its name when Captain Cook first discovered Australia and asked his crew members to make him a cup of tea with the leaves of the plant. Although the tea did not taste particularly good, the name has stuck. The essential oil and hydrolat come from the distillation of the grey-green leaves.
Tea tree has a long history of use for almost every ailment for the Aboriginal people of Australia and is used in much the same way as lavender is in Europe – for
everything! Tea tree oil and hydrolat are very powerful immuno-stimulants and antiseptics.
Tea tree hydrolat is analgesic when used as a wash for open cuts and wounds, meaning that pain is lessened and the wound is less vulnerable. The hydrolat is also slightly anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-infectious and can be used for acne, athlete’s foot, infected skin and oily skin. It is also slightly anti-
inflammatory for insect bites and sunburn.
The hydrolat can be used as a mouthwash to promote healthy gums and also as an aid to healing gingivitis and bad breath. Internally it can be anti-depressing and uplifting.
Use the hydrolat undiluted to wash out surface wounds, cuts and grazes. For venous ulcers, bed sores and similar, wash thoroughly using plenty of hydrolat and lint free gauze or other suitable material. Using an atomiser can help in the latter situations as the hydrolat is them forced deeper into the wound. If appropriate, make a compress with the cloth and soak in warm tea tree hydrolat and leave for up to 40 minutes to clean thoroughly and reduce inflammation and infection. For follow-up treatments on cuts and grazes, blend 80m1 of aqueous cream with 20ml of hydrolat and apply when necessary. This can also apply to ulcers and similar if appropriate and suitable.
Add 20m1 of tea tree hydrolat and five drops of tea tree essential oil to 80ml aqueous cream for cleansing. Massage lightly into the face and leave for one minute before washing off with warm, clean water. Apply the hydrolat as a toning lotion, undiluted to the skin using cotton pads and allow to dry naturally. Mix 10ml of hydrolat with two drops of lavender essential oil into 90ml of moisturising base cream and use as a moisture cream day and night. TT
Price L, Price S, 2004 Understanding Hydrolats: The specifIc hydrosols for aromatherapy Elsevier: London.
© Penny Price