If you have ever used tea tree oil before, or if you have done enough research on this essential plant oil, you know that tea tree oil can irritate the skin. According to Dr. James A. Duke, using tea tree oil to treat a yeast infection should be done as a “last resort.” Dr. Duke recommends trying other safer herbal remedies before trying tea tree oil; due to the potential irritation of the skin that this oil can cause. If you still want to give tea tree oil a try, you need to use it properly. Ingesting just a small amount of tea tree oil can prove fatal. However, using the oil topically on the skin is quite safe.
The question becomes, "how safe is tea tree oil to use in the vaginal canal or topically on the vagina?" Inserting tea tree oil into the vagina should be safer than drinking it—which ingesting it, as stated, can kill you. However, it still may be quite dangerous to use more than a few drops in the vaginal canal. If enough tea tree oil is absorbed into your body through the vagina, you could get quite sick or even die. Topically, the oil should be relatively safe to use on the external part of the vaginal area—if none is used in the vaginal canal. It does sound somewhat dangerous; however, very small amounts of tea tree oil are used in toothpastes. You are not expected to swallow the toothpaste of course. And, there are plenty of tea tree oil shampoos. So, to be safe, if you want to use more than a few drops of the oil in the vaginal canal; first check with a professional herbal medicine expert, or regular medical physician.
If you have done research on natural remedies for Candida, you may have heard about Sarah Summer. Summer was herself a victim of recurrent yeast infections and suffered with chronic Candidiasis for many long years. After exhausting several different treatment options, including conventional drugs and other remedies, Summer found herself unable to stop her recurrent infections. Then, after much medical research, Summer was able to ascertain a simple system that permanently ended her recurrent yeast infections.
Summer’s treatments are all-natural, work on a variety of yeast infections, and can heal a yeast infection in approximately 12 hours. Sarah Summer has decided to publish her book electronically via a large publisher—a subsidiary of Keynetics Incorporated. Summer also offers an 8 week money back guarantee on her publication; allowing those who try Summer’s work to get a prompt refund if they find her treatments unsatisfactory. If you would like to learn a bit more about this powerful remedy, and this book, you can find out more at Sarah Summer’s website.
Research Regarding Tea Tree Oil
Of the species of Candida that attack the human body, approximately 80% of all virulent activity is caused by Candida albicans. Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis account for approximately 5 to 8% of infections; the remainder are caused by the other species of the Candida genus (Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 1999 Jan; 12). Consequently, your yeast infections is most likely the result of the most pathogenic Candida species: albicans.
One study looked at how 81 isolates of Candida albicans and 33 non-albicans Candida species responded to tea tree oil. The study was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy [42.5 (1998): 591-595]. The study also examined 3 common tea tree oil products to see if they also retained their antifungal capabilities. The study found that a tea tree oil gel containing 10% essential oil was able to effectively kill Candida albicans when the gel was diluted to just a quarter of a percent weight / volume. A 3% tea tree oil gel and a tea tree oil pessary (a pessary is a device inserted into the vagina to deliver medication) were also examined—just half a percent of the pessary was able to kill Candida albicans. The chart below shows the findings on how effective this essential oil was. Please note that MIC stands for ‘Minimum Inhibitory Concentration’ and MFC stands for ‘Minimum Fungicidal Concentration.’
The study also goes on to report that the minimum fungicidal concentration for all Candida species tested was never greater than ½ percent. Thus, just a small amount of tea tree oil can effectively kill Candida when it comes into contact with it. But, as you may have a significant amount of yeast in your vagina, you may want to try say a 1% concentration of tea tree oil in a carrier oil and apply it via a tampon. To be safe, you can always start with less essential oil and increase it gradually to see how your body will react. Again, do not use too much; you shouldn't use more than a few drops of tea tree oil in about two tablespoons of carrier oil.
Another study of how tea tree oil affected 11 isolates of Candida, was published in the British Journal of Biomedical Science [2001, 58(3):139-145]. The study found that all eleven isolates were highly susceptible to tea tree oil. A concentration of 1% tea tree oil was able to effectively kill all 11 isolates of Candida used in the study.
Research published in Revista Iberoamericana De Micología [17.2 (2000): 60-63], examined 50 isolates of Candida albicans, 21 isolates of Candida glabrata, and various other Candida species as well. The study sought to see how these fungi would react to the presence of tea tree oil. The study found that just half a percent concentration of tea tree oil was enough to kill half of all the Candida isolates it came into contact with. Only half of the Candida isolates were tested for an MFC value. The tea tree oil was able to kill every species of Candida tested. The chart below shows the range of the MIC; thus, a range of 50% means half of the Candida was inhibited at the below concentration. The chart below shows that a killing range of 50% was achieved, as mentioned, by just half a percent concentration of tea tree oil. Again, please note ‘Minimum Inhibitory Concentration’ is abbreviated MIC and ‘Minimum Fungicidal Concentration’ is abbreviated as MFC.
One study of relevance, analyzed how tea tree oil would affect Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. One strain of each species was used in the study. The study was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy [53.6 (2004): 1081-1085]. A standardized composition of tea tree oil is delineated by International Standards (ISO 4730). Compositional ranges for 14 of the major components of tea tree oil are stipulated in the ISO guidelines. Any tea tree oil that is compliant with these standards should possess good therapeutic activity. The tea tree oil used in the study was compliant with this ISO protocol. Some of the macro components of the tea tree oil were also examined regarding their activity against the species of Candida. These chemicals included:
Terpinen-4-ol (41.5% of total volume)
gamma-terpinene (21.2% of total volume)
alpha-terpinene (10.2% of total volume)
The study found that a 0.4% concentration of tea tree oil powerfully reduced the growth of Candida albicans. If you use about a 1% concentration of tea tree oil in a small amount of carrier oil (approximately a few tablespoons), this should be a great way to eliminate an infection. The researchers suggested that the different components of tea tree oil may have different modes of action against Candida; thus, this oil may work in manifold ways to stop yeast. This could possibly be the reason why tea tree oil is such an effective treatment for Candida problems.
Candida germ tubes are a key reason why the species of Candida that develop them (Candida albicans is one of these species) are more virulent. Consequently, natural medicines that deter germ tube growth will reduce the aggression of the Candida attacking the body. Tea tree oil is one such natural substance that can help to reduce Candida germ tube growth; thus, this is another reason to use this essential oil.
A study that demonstrated germ tube growth reduction, was published in Medical Mycology [38.5 (2000): 354-361]. The study demonstrated, for 10 different isolates of Candida albicans, the minimum MFC (which is the lowest concentration necessary to kill the Candida isolate), for all ten isolates, was no more than a 1% tea tree oil concentration. Many of the isolates were killed at 0.5 or 0.25% tea tree oil. Therefore, a weak concentration of this oil has potent candida killing ability. For germ tube formation, even lower concentrations that would not kill the yeast were examined. The study found that 0.031% concentration of tea tree oil drastically reduced germ tube formation for many of the isolates. And, a 0.25%, only a quarter of a percent concentration, totally eliminated germ tube growth. Below is a chart taken from the study showing the effects of various tea tree oil concentrations on a strain of Candida albicans’ ability to develop germ tube hyphae.
Another study worth mentioning, was a review of research detailing tea tree oil’s antimicrobial efficacy. The study was published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews [19.1 (2006): 50-62]. Fungal pathogens aside for a moment, the review cited a wide array of studies and presented a chart of the various bacteria tea tree oil could inhibit and kill. Only small concentrations of this oil were necessary to stop nearly all of the bacteria. For most fungal species, the review stated that the average MIC ranged from 0.03 and 0.5%, and MFCs generally range from 0.12 to 2%. In the chart showing tea tree oil’s effects against fungi, this oil was also shown to be very efficacious by a host of scientific research. For Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, and Candida parapsilosis, the MFCs of tea tree oil were all under 1%. Given the wide array of scientific studies that comprised this review’s data, and the analysis of the species of Candida that will be responsible for the vast majority of yeast infections, it is safe to assume your infection will be quickly terminated by using tea tree oil!
Taking tea tree oil by mouth is a bad idea, as a small amount of this oil can prove lethal. In the review of literature regarding tea tree oil, in Clinical Microbiology Reviews [19.1 (2006): 50-62], the authors summarized the findings regarding oral ingestion of this oil. The following quote was taken from this study, and details the primary side effect you need to watch out for when using this potent essential oil (TTO = tea tree oil):
TTO can be toxic if ingested, as evidenced by studies with animals and from cases of human poisoning. The 50% lethal dose for TTO in a rat model is 1.9 to 2.6 ml/kg, and rats dosed with ≤1.5 g/kg TTO appeared lethargic and ataxic (D. Kim, D. R. Cerven, S. Craig, and G. L. De George, Abstr. Amer. Chem. Soc. 223:114, 2002). Incidences of oral poisoning in children and adults have been reported. In all cases, patients responded to supportive care and recovered without apparent sequelae. No human deaths due to TTO have been reported in the literature.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil on Yeast Infections
If you have exhausted other herbal remedies, and you still wish to try tea tree oil to treat your yeast infection, there are several methods you can utilize to harness the power of tea tree oil. Some women who have had yeast infections that could not be completely eliminated using pharmaceuticals like clotrimazole and nystatin, have had better results using tea tree oil.
Keep in mind that tea tree oil is a very toxic substance and small amounts of the oil, such as a few teaspoons, can be fatal if ingested.
Skin and Nail Yeast Infections
Any yeast infection that occurs on the nails or the skin (such as on the outside of the penis and the skin around the opening to the vagina) can be treated by applying a few drops of tea tree oil to the infected area. If you want to help reduce the chances of the tea tree oil irritating your skin, you can dilute the oil with an equal amount of vegetable oil. If you experience too much discomfort, you should wash the oil off and halt your use it. Also, you can then try diluting it with even more vegetable oil to see if a weaker concentration causes irritation.
If you plan on using tea tree oil to treat diaper rash, make sure you consult a licensed medical doctor before you use tea tree oil on your baby’s skin. Make sure you do not use pure tea tree oil on a baby's skin. You may want to use a zinc ointment instead to treat diaper rash.
Vaginal Yeast Infections
If you have a vaginal yeast infection you can make a 1% concentration of tea tree oil in vegetable oil mixture, and apply it directly to the vagina. You can also combine a few drops of tea tree oil to some warm water and use this as a douche. You can also make a sitz bath and add several drops of tea tree oil to the bath water to treat the area around the genitals.
Because the vaginal area can be damaged easily, you should discontinue your use of tea tree oil if you experience any irritation or discomfort. Additionally, you should never use 100% tea tree oil on the vaginal area; instead, use the tea tree oil on the vaginal area only after you dilute it with vegetable oil. It would be wise to consult a medical doctor before you use more than a 5% concentration of this oil in a few tablespoons of carrier oil intravaginally.
If you are suffering from oral thrush, and want to use tea tree oil to cure it, you should first discuss this course of action with your doctor. As mentioned earlier, swallowing a few teaspoons of tea tree oil can be fatal. Ask your doctor about commercially prepared tea tree oil toothpaste and mouthwash. Such commercially prepared tea tree oil products are likely to have a safe concentration of this oil in them; and, may help clear up your oral thrush.
You can also make your own tea tree oil toothpaste and mouthwash by adding a very small amount of tea tree oil to these products. Before you decide how much tea tree oil to add to a toothpaste or mouthwash, make sure you consult a licensed medical doctor to be sure you are not getting a dangerous amount of the oil in your mouth. Of course, be careful to never swallow a oral hygiene product containing this essential oil!
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- Google Books — Duke, James A.. The Green Pharmacy (p.202-203 using Tea tree oil on the vagina)
- Google Books — Dr. Elvis Ali, et. al.. The Tea Tree Oil Bible: Your Essential Guide. Ages Publishing, copyright 1999 (p.157 oral thrush and tea tree oil)
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88907/ — Candida glabrata: Review of Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, and Clinical Disease with Comparison to C. albicans. Clinical Microbiology Reviews [1999 Jan; 12(1): 80–96]
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/42.5.591 — Hammer, Katherin A., Christine F. Carson, and Thomas V. Riley. "In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida spp." Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 42.5 (1998): 591-595.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11575735 — Banes-Marshall, L., P. Cawley, and Carol A. Phillips. "In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against bacterial and Candida spp. isolates from clinical specimens." British journal of biomedical science 58.3 (2000): 139-145.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15813697 — Vazquez, Jose A., et al. "In vitro susceptibilities of Candida and Aspergillus species to Melaleuca alternafolia (tea tree) oil." Revista iberoamericana de micología 17.2 (2000): 60-63. PDF Available Here
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkh243 — Hammer, K. A., C. F. Carson, and T. V. Riley. "Antifungal effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its components on Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae." Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 53.6 (2004): 1081-1085. Full Text Available Here, PubMed
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/mmy.38.5.354.361 — Hammer, K. A., C. F. Carson, and T. V. Riley. "Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil inhibits germ tube formation by Candida albicans." Medical mycology 38.5 (2000): 354-361. PDF Available Here, PubMed
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006 — Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. "Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties." Clinical microbiology reviews 19.1 (2006): 50-62. Full Text Available Here, PubMed Full Text