Monday, June 27, 2011

Lemon Scented Tea Tree Oil - A Natural Bacteria Buster

As the common name suggests, Lemon Scented Tea Tree (INCI: Leptosperum petersonii) comes from the same plant family as Tea Tree (INCI: Melaleuca alternifolia). The Myrtaceae is a large family, consisting of about 3000 species. The 'tea trees' have built-in antifungal and anti-viral properties making them ideal for a variety of uses that may well expand as these amazing plants continue to undergo study.

A Possible Future in Agriculture, Forestry and Medicine
This study, published in 2008 by Wiley Interscience shows that essential oil from Lemon Scented Tea Tree (and a few others in the same family) exhibit anti-fungal activity that may prove useful as an alternative method for pest and disease control in agriculture and forestry. This study, published at the Journal of Microbial Chemotherapy showed that Lemon Scented Tea Tree oil exhibited measurable antifungal properties when inhaled, giving it a possible future in medicine. Even though it's still early days, the indications are positive enough to get me a little excited over the prospects!

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Lemon scented tea tree is mainly cultivated in Kenya, South Africa, and its native Australia. Apart from providing essential oils, the plant functions as an attractive garden hedge or even as a centerpiece tree with its lovely white flowers and appealing scent. As for uses, this plant has a lot to offer.

Present Uses of Lemon Scented Tea Tree
- as a fragrance (the essential oil)
- as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages (the essential oil)
- as an herbal tea (the leaves)
- as an insect repellant (the essential oil)
- as an immune system stimulant (the essential oil)
- as a reducer of anxiety, stress, and nervous tension (the essential oil)

And For Skin?
Because it is naturally antisceptic and cleansing, Lemon Scented Tea Tree oil is excellent for problem skin (such as acne) and oily skin. It is an efficient natural insect repellant, making it ideal for use in a 'holiday body mist' or added to a travel shampoo or body oil blend. I am quite enamored with the fresh, lemony-green scent of this oil. It has fantastic staying power and – contrary to my experiences with many other essential oils – doesn't 'die out' or in any way 'fade' when mixed into a surfactant-rich product (like body wash).

Any Cautions?
The chemical makeup of Lemon Scented Tea Tree Oil places it on the EU Cosmetics Directives list. It contains 7 of the 26 specific fragrance ingredients that have to be declared: Citronellal, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Eugenol, Limonen and Farnesol. (What does this mean? It means the oil contains several components that are possible allergens.)

LisaLise Products With Lemon Scented Tea Tree Oil
As yet, none, but the more I get to know this oil, the more I like it. Because it is a relatively recent aquaintance, I have so far only had a chance to use it in a mosquito repellant spray (it works!), personal use body wash, personal use body oil blend and this DIY hair treatment for itchy scalp. I have plans of testing it more in bath products and am also considering it for use in deodorant. 

PS: Although it is technically more correct to write 'ti tree' instead of 'tea tree', I find the labelling on these essential oils is commonly spelled 't-e-a', so I'm sticking with that.

The oil I use is Fairly Traded and organic.

Many thanks to Glenn Leiper for use of his photo of the Lemon Scented Tea Tree (which he photographed in the wild at Mt. Tamborine in Australia). Visit Mangroves to Mountains for more beautiful photos of Australian plants.

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