Tea tree oil comes from the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia plant, and some people call it melaleuca oil. Australians have made use of the medicinal properties of tea tree oil for centuries -- legend has it that during World War II, the Australian army required soldiers to carry a bottle. While there are more than 100 natural chemicals in the oil, the primary active ingredients in tea tree are monoterpenes, hydrocarbons, and sesquiterpenes, which give the essential oil its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
Tea tree oil can help control skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema. Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, and studies show the oil has anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, the use of tea tree oil over 12 weeks showed significant improvement in acne outbreaks. In another study conducted in 2011, the topical use of tea tree oil was more effective at controlling eczema than common pharmaceutical recommendations such as clobetasone butyrate and zinc oxide.
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