It was only in the 1920’s that Tea Tree Oil was first exploited commercially. In the last 100 years it has become a stalwart essential oil with myriad uses… including for hair loss. We take a closer look.
A History of Tea Tree Oil
The name Tea Tree was reputedly given to a range of shrubs by no less an explorer than Capt. Cook – who made an infusion, in the absence of his regular cup of tea. It seems he may have had a lucky escape too, the particular form of the shrub that modern Tea Tree Oil is extracted from is poisonous. Maybe his infusion did not extract enough to be dangerous, maybe he used a different, less toxic, type. In any case, it would be a long time before an Australian by the name of Arthur Penfold. Penfold noted its “powerful antiseptic properties” and no doubt it’s camphorous smell certainly lent itself to being marketed as a health product. The truth of that is evidenced by the fact that it is now grown commercially around the world… far removed from it’s original home in Australia. It should be pointed out that the variety which Penfold extracted his oil from remains the most important commercially, and that is predominantly still only grown in its original habitat.
Today the mystery around the precise chemical composition of Tea Tree Oil has been taken away by our drive for universal standards. The International Standards ISO #4370 dictates the 15 components that are all necessary for an oil to be designated Tea Tree Oil. The different varieties grown around the world may have slightly different properties, hence the range of colours available and accounts for the fact that there are 6 different recognised chemical combinations, but they all contain those same 15 components.
The good news is that Tea Tree Oil has been thoroughly examined for threat by a range of authorities. It is how we know that it is poisonous if taken internally for example. More important on a day to day basis, is that it is necessary to significantly dilute the oil to a 2% concentration before applying it externally. In too high a concentration there is an intimidating list of possible hazards: Skin irritation; Allergic Contact Dermatitus; Systemic hypersensitivity reactions to name but three.
It is unfortunate that research into the positive attributes of Tea Tree Oil has been far less vigorous. Some very small studies have shown some efficacy as an additional treatment to existing ones, it has also been investigated for use against nail fungus, dandruff, acne and athlete’s foot. Again, these were all very small studies, too small for the findings to have any technical relevance.
Fans of homeopathic remedies continue to use Tea Tree Oil, mixed with other ingredients, for a huge range of conditions, including hair loss. It is mixed with everything from eggs to castor oil by women the world over hoping to improve the condition of their hair. For hair loss the recommended mix is one teaspoon of Tea Tree Oil (in 2% solution) with 2 teaspoons of coconut milk… thoroughly massages into the scalp for 15 minutes, once a week.
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