Today' Spotlight's: Background, "Benefits" & Uses for Tea Tree, Eucalyptus & Frankincense Essential Oils
Essential oils have several benefits that can help enhance your health and create a sense of relaxation. These organic and natural extracts are taken from plants and other natural sources. In addition, they have a variety of uses and may have positive impacts on your well-being.
The thought behind essential oils is that when they are inhaled or adsorbed (through the skin), this can stimulate a part of the brain that influences our emotions. This in turn may simulate other actions within the body, like a sense of relaxation, better breathing, even changes in our vitals signs (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.)
However, many of these oils have been used for centuries for other applications, and to help yield other positive physiological and psychological outcomes.
In this post, we'll discuss the uses and benefits of three popular essential oils. Tea tree, eucalyptus, and frankincense are well known and frequently purchased by consumers for therapies such as aromatherapy, massage (oils), used during medication, yoga sessions, and even applications such as car diffusers.
What Are the Uses of These Essential Oils?
So what exactly are the uses of tea tree, eucalyptus, and frankincense essential oils?
Typically, these oils can be used to help relax the mind, and improve various facets of your health. Many essential oils, research indicates, can be used for medicinal purposes. However keep in mind, much of the research on essential oils is still in it's infancy stages (we believe), some not tested in actual human studies, and others have been tested in fairly small sample sized studies.
We here at RN to Zen, are trying to present information to our audience on the current information and literature about each, as some of these oils (mainly due to there aroma) are used in our soaps, baths bombs and other bath and beauty products.
Tea Tree Essential Oil Uses
tree oil (TTO) comes from specific leaves native to Australia and has
been used as a form of traditional medicine for hundreds of
years, within certain cultures.
The oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifoilia.
The aboriginals of Australia extracted this oil and used it to treat coughs and heal their skin. They had specific ways in which they were able to extract the oils, by crushing the leaves. Oils from these leaves can also be extracted via steam distillation.
Today, tea tree oil is still used for some of these medicinal purposes. You've likely come across cleaning products that indeed include this versatile essential oil. It can be found in detergents, shampoos, skin and nail creams, just to name a few.
tea tree oil to the skin, along with carrier oils (like many essential
oils), can be an alternative type of skincare treatment.
Main Components of Tea Tree Oil
Terpinen-4-ol, y-Terpinene, alpha-Terpinene, 1,8-Cineiole, Terpinolene
What Some of the Research Says
Tea tree essential oil (TTO) can help reduce skin inflammation and help speed-up the wound healing process, according to research studies. Research does in fact support much of the anecdotal evidence of it having anti-inflammatory properties. TTO has demonstrated having affects on immune responses as well. For instance, inhibiting certain inflammatory mediators.
One particular study of 124 patients, 5% tea tree oil gel was compared to a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. The results confirmed anecdotal evidence. Tea tree oil in fact had a significant effect on both reducing number of inflamed and non-inflamed legions, however slower then the peroxide lotion. Fewer side effects were noted with the Tea tree oil compared to that of the peroxide lotion.
Another study in 2016 included a smaller sample size of 18 participants, also concluded tea tree oil products, significantly improved mild to moderate acne with low side-effects.
Animal studies have also shown similar anti-inflammatory actions. Like this study on mouth infections in mice, showing to suppress inflammatory activity.
Patients in another study used a 3.3% water-miscible tea tree oil solution as part of a wound healing regimen. At the end of the treatment study, the tea tree oil solution did not appear to inhibited any wound healing. In fact the majority of wounds reduced in size. However, it seems inconclusive if the reduction in size of healing was solely benefited by the tea tree oil solution or other parts of the wound-healing regimen.
Tea tree oil can be found in many types of holistic stores. Like anything you purchase, doing proper research is important (specifically, if want to use essential oils for therapeutic application). Purity of these oils can differ from supplier to supplier. Usually cheaper oils of tea tree are not 100% pure extracts!
Compounds, like teripnen-4-ol, within tea tree oil has been known to kill certain strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
One particular study discussed the antiseptic nature of TTO, especially with increasing concentrations. Like mentioned above, Tea tree oil (specifically certain compounds within it) have been linked to being active against a variety of bacteria on the skin, viruses, fungi & even mites.
With all that being said, it can be a great additive to things like hand sanitizers, deodorant(s), and when diluting it with water, you can also apply it to cuts and scrapes.
Hair & Scalp Support
There has been evidence and research to support tea tree oils ability to help with dry scalp, and dandruff. Tea tree oil is known to have antifungal properties with activity against the yeast Pityrosporum ovale (a part of normal human cutaneous flora) which can be an opportunistic pathogen and associated with dandruff.
One study in 2002 of 126 male and female participants, showed a 41% improvement in severity scores as compared to a placebo used, with tea tree oil appearing effective in the treatment of dandruff.
Can Help with Athletes Foot or Eczema
Tinea pedis, also known as athletes foot and symptoms, have also been studied in relation to tea tree oil action against. Like much of the evidence, when it come to differing essential oils, research has expanded from anecdotal to more evidence-based.
One such study that tested tea tree oil cream on 104 patients in treatment of tinea pedis, showed athletes foot reduction through this application.
Due to tea tree oils ability to help with skin inflammation, it's no wonder it is used as a natural treatment for the two. Contact dermatitis, specifically, is a form of eczema, that was included in a study looking at traditional topical therapeutic agents like zinc oxide, clobetason butyrate, and of course tea tree oil. Tea tree oil in the end, proved to be a more effective anti-eczematic agent then both of these treatments.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil Uses
One of the most well-known essential oils; eucalyptus oil's anecdotal evidence traces back many years and is said to be cleaning (great for wounds), immune boosting, have antiseptic properties, supportive of our respiratory system, and one of the "best" oils for aromatherapy applications.
There are over 500 Eucalyptus types which share similar properties. The leaves are first dried out, then crushed, then steam distilled, which releases the essential oils.
Eucalyptus oil is also found in
Australia, but can be found in many other places around the world, including Europe, and China. This essential oil has many healing properties, and like other essential oils has gained some steam as more evidence-based research has come about.
In particular, have you ever heard of Vicks Vapor-rub? This is a well known over-the-counter medication used to help symptoms of respiratory illnesses, like a cold or even the flu (acting as a cough suppressant).
Eucalyptus, is one of those essential oils that is involved in formulas like Vicks, to help with suppressing your cough. Using a
diffuser with eucalyptus essential oils can help safely bring these natural essential oil vapors into your respiratory tract, in a "cooling" delivery.
What does this do? Well it can help loosen up secretions and get them more mobile in your chest so that you are able to get those secretions up and out.
Main Components of Eucalyptus Essential Oils
alpha-Terpineol, 1,8 cineole, alpha-pinene, ß-pinene, Sabinene, Camphene, Limonene & Camphor
One of the more well known benefits of eucalyptus oil is helping to aide in relief from respiratory problems like bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether through vapor inhalation or oral route, it is said to be beneficial for both purulent and non-purulent respiratory problems.
An animal study showed anti-inflammatory effects on chronic bronchitis with the use of eucalyptus oil.
In addition to this, like tea tree essential oil,
eucalyptus can be used as a bug repellent and for wound treatments. In fact the CDC (Center For Disease Control) has approved eucalyptus oil for use as a mosquito repellent.
There was even a study that showed potential for eucalyptus and it's ability to repel the common house rat. Daily applications of different concentrations of eucalyptus oil were applied to areas to assess food consumption in those areas where the spray was applied. The applied area vs. the un-applied area of oil showed a significant decrease in food consumption in that area.
As far as wound healing, eucalyptus oil in one particular study showed to have the ability to eliminate microbial biofilms from hard surfaces, so it may be a useful adjunct with current infection control strategies.
Major components within eucalyptus oil, like 1,8-cineole, have antimicrobial effects against bacteria. Specifically, Myocbacterium tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), viruses and fungi.
The anti-inflammatory properties in eucalyptus oils may be beneficial to those that suffer from cold sores, as well in reducing the healing time.
Another study in 2012, provided support that eucalyptus oil has "encouraging results", and has properties that show inhibitory effects against Escherichia coli (E-coli), and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)
Like with other essential oils, it's imperative that you discuss treatment of any wound or infection, and whether going a more holistic route is appropriate, or if using it in conjunction with other treatments are appropriate and safe.
Helps with Symptoms of Pain
Eucalyptus oil not only has properties that help contribute to inflammatory relief, but may also have analgesic and spasmolytic effects.
If you think about it's anti-inflammatory benefits you can see that using it as a remedy for joint pain may also be beneficial. Using it with a carrier oil to rub on areas of chronic pain may help to relieve some symptoms.
Inhaled eucalyptus oil was a focus of one study on patients who received total knee replacements. The research found that of the patients who inhaled the oil for 30 minutes on 3 consecutive days were in less pain (based on an analog scale) then the control group (as well as lower blood pressures), then patients who did not receive eucalyptus oil inhalation(s).
Use these oils with devices like ultrasonic diffusers for better aroma disbursement!
Frankincense Essential Oil Uses
Let's now discuss the uses of the very popular and potent aromas of frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii). This particular oil is obtained from dry resin (which originally starts as sap droplets) from the Boswellia tree, native to certain regions, like Africa.
The hardened resin is then crushed. Steam distillation and CO2 extraction is the process that eventually produces this historically used, Frankincense essential oil and all of its beautiful aromatics.
Individuals often describe the scent of Frankincense as woody, earthy, spicy with a slight fruity undertone.
It can be diffused, as well as applied topically to the skin with carrier oils. Many people love this oil for it's calming aromas, to ease stress and anxiety symptoms. It has also long been used for stimulating the immune system, or cosmetically to reduce or eliminate surface bacteria from the skin.
Main Components of Frankincense
Limonene, Pinene, Borneol, Farnesol, Phellandrene, Myrcene
Help with Skin Irritation/Wounds
Studies have shown that extracts are able to reduce redness and irritation to the skin, as well helping to produce an even skin tone. It has been used for things such as bruises and infected sores. The oils have been found to have a soothing property on irritated skin. The main reason for this is the "steroid-like" structure in Boswellic acid compounds.
Bowel and Gut Health Support
One study in 2012 of 30 patients, each with chronic colitis, showed that B. serrata could be effective in it's treatment with minimal side-effects.
Another small study showed Frankincense resin as potentially being as effective as certain drugs at reducing symptoms of Crohn's, like mesalazine.
Frankincense is said to have "anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiseptic, anxiolytic and antineurotic effects", according to one research study that discussed it's therapeutic properties.
If you suffer from arthritis, the anti-inflammatory properties may be a great alternative or conjunct with other therapies for pain relief of joints and fingers.
This oil may be helpful when used to
reduce symptoms of asthma. A study of 40 patients who suffered from bronchial asthma, were given resin from Boswellia serrata, 70% showed improvement of disease.
A double-blind randomized clinical trial suggested that Frankincense is a safe and low-cost herbal medicine that can be helpful when used as an adjunct to conventional therapies for improvement in inflammation based disease of gingival (gingivitis).
Finally, frankincense may also have cancer fighting factors. Nothing is one hundred percent, but some studies suggest that regular exposure to this oil can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
A study in the International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases states that, Boswellic acid (a compound in Frankincense oil) has been found to have "anti-preoperative effects on various tumor cell lines", and Frankincense oil has been "found to distinguish cancerous cells from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability."
Another study investigated the anti-cancer activity of methanolic extract from Boswelia serrata on specific colon cancer cells, and suggested that these extracts indeed inhibit rapid growth, and may just be able to help prevent cancer cells from spreading.
There have also been multiple test tube studies in which Frankincense (components or compounds within) was the subject matter. Test-tube studies have suggested it may aide in fighting specific cancers like pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancers (in which these oils are able to "induce breast cancer-specific cytotoxicity."
Essential Oils in a Nutshell?
1. Help Reduce Anxiety
Diffusing any of these essential oils can
help reduce anxiety and help keep you more centered. Along with things like meditation and yoga the effects of essential oils may even be enhanced.
Proponents of using essential oils say that this type of aromatherapy helps keep you present, calm and grounded, and when coupled with a diffuser you can
safely and quickly reap the calming benefits, most likely effecting a part of the brain called the limbic system that controls emotions and nervous system.
2. Helps You Sleep Better at Night
Not all essential oils are known or practiced regularly with sleep. However, certain oils like frankincense, Lavender, and Patchouli are known to induce deeper levels of sleep at night. These oils can be great when used in aromatherapy diffusers that have automatic shut offs, that way you don't have to worry about it running all night.
3. Improves Your Mood
When you are less stressed and anxious, your mood may naturally, feel as if it's at a boost with these oils. Since essential oils help center the mind and body, you may find your mood boosted and improved.
In some cases, your energy levels can spike, especially with essential oils that are more associated with those symptoms like Bergamot, grapefruit, and sandalwood.
4. May Reduce Blemishes and Skin Inflammation
Tea tree, eucalyptus, and frankincense all have antibacterial properties. Applying these oils to your body (with carrier oils) can help heal up scratches and cuts. However, these oils may also help clear up your skin and reduce redness and inflammation.
Tea tree and eucalyptus, in particular, are known to help improve the look of your skin. They may help with acne, dry skin, and even psoriasis. Using these oils along with other treatments may be "just what the doctor ordered" to help unclog those pesky pours!
5. Can Help Reduce Stress Levels
Stress is becoming more and more common in today’s hectic and chaotic world. We can’t help but be stressed out by the world around us. Still, this does not mean that you can’t take steps to reduce your stress levels.
With the use of essential oils, you can aid your body to rest, recovery and hopefully promote relaxation. Essential oils won’t fix your life and they should not be used alone to try and treat medical conditions, but they can help you find time for yourself to unwind. Many of these oils can have a therapeutic effect on the mind and body.
In time you can see changes in your health and mood levels when you are less stressed. These oils may help you to deal with stress issues better or more effectively.
6. May Aide Hair & Scalp Health
Essential oils can be great for your
scalp and hair health. In particular, the use of tea tree oil can help reduce a
dry and flaky scalp. Many people deal with dandruff and other scalp issues, but
tea tree essential oil can help naturally improve this condition.
In fact, many hair and scalp products use percentages of tea tree essential oils, because of there proven hair and scalp benefits.
Side Effects of Essential Oils
Like with any essential oil we discuss here are RN to Zen, we do not ever suggest the ingestion of any of the oils. We believe in topical application of diluted essential oils for symptom relief, and aromatherapy. Before using essential oils for application and inhalation you should have a basic understanding of the oils and how to use them properly.
Please consult a medical or holistic expert when using essential oils as a therapeutic treatment, and never stop any current regimen useless consulting with a medical professional first.
The information we provide is based mostly on research that has been conducted on said essential oils, but keep in mind some of the studies are small sample sizes and some are animal studies, lacking human trials. We only try and produce the research that has been done, we do not conduct any research ourselves on the oils.
You may also run across information on these oils (on the web) that is anecdotal evidence at best, we DO try and provide more research driven material and knowledge, and give individuals a basic understanding of the oils.
Do not use essential oils when pregnant unless consulting a medical expert.
Do not use essential oils on children.
Thank you so much for coming by RN to Zen. We hope you've learned some new knowledge on these 3 beautiful essential oils. If you've used any of these oils in application, please be sure to share your experiences in the comments section.
- https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/noninfectious-health-risks/mosquitoes-ticks-and-other- arthropods