Tea Tree Oil (TTO) is an essential oil that has been researched and well-documented for its antiseptic properties and can also be used as an antimicrobial. Originating in Australia, it has been used there for over a century. One of its most common uses is treating eyelid issues. While TTO lives up to its reputation, there is an alternative that science has found to be even better. 4-terpineol (T4O), has the same active ingredient as TTO, but performs more functions and performs them better.

The Active Ingredient

TTO is derived from the Australian plant, melaleuca alternifolia. The primary active ingredient, which is also found in T4O products such as Cliradex, is the compound terpineol. This ingredient has several medicinal uses.

1. It Fights Microbial Infections

Perhaps the most useful function of T4O is its ability to fight fungal, bacterial and viral infections. T4O products have been shown by research to effectively kill harmful microbes and thus fight their related infections. Just as with TTO, the terpineol in T4O slows the growth of bacteria such as streptococcus pneumonia, streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli. In so doing, it helps to cure and prevent urinary tract infections, strep throat, sinus and bloodstream infections. T4O is also useful in combating respiratory illness and pneumonia.

Studies have also found T4O to be effective against viral infections including herpes and influenza. Research has also found it to be effective against warts.

As an anti-fungal, T4O performs equally well. It is an excellent method of treatment for jock itch, toenail fungus, athlete’s foot and candida. Subjects in studies found that it cleared up fungus and stopped itching with a two-week period.

2. Treatment of Head Lice

Anyone with children can most likely tell you a tale of horror concerning head lice. These parasites live in human hair and feed on blood. They transfer easily from person to person and can infest large numbers of students at the same school. T4O has proven effective at killing head lice and most importantly, their eggs. Preventing future generations of pests is key to ending the infestation.

Researchers found that using T4O as a treatment killed 100% of head lice within 30 minutes. When used for a period of five days, it prevented eggs from hatching.

3. Dry Scalp

In addition to clearing the head of lice, T4O is also effective in fighting dry scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis causes areas on the scalp to become dry and scaly. The condition is accompanied by a persistent itch. This is irritating as well as unhealthy. Studies have found that T4O can relieve these symptoms.

4. Skin Irritations

Due to its antimicrobial properties, T4O is an excellent treatment for rashes and skin irritations. Though the body of research is limited, some studies have found evidence that T4O may reduce inflammation and help the healing of wounds. It may also be helpful in treating insect bites and sunburn.

5. Fighting Skin Conditions Including Acne

As an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, T4O can also be effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It may also be an excellent way to clear up acne. Studies found that a twice-daily application for a period of 12 weeks significantly reduced facial blemishes.

6. Respiratory Tract Infections and Congestion

Since the beginnings of its medicinal use, melaleuca leaves have been ground and inhaled as a treatment for colds and coughing due to congestion. The leaves were also placed in solutions for use in relieving sore throats. As an antimicrobial, T4O can fight bacteria that cause infections of the respiratory system. In addition to helping to heal these infections, T4O is also a useful preventative for them as well as coughs and colds.

7. Treatment of Scabies

Scabies sometimes called the seven-year itch, is an infestation of the skin by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. It is highly contagious and the symptoms are a rash and constant itching. A study conducted at Flinders University in Australia found that terpineol significantly reduced the population of scabies mites in subjects. It has the advantage of killing mites both above and below the skin and it is a completely natural treatment.

8. Eliminating Bad Breath

Bacteria located in the throat and on the tongue and tonsils cause bad breath. Gum and breath spray merely mask the odor without doing anything to eliminate it. Mouthwashes work well, but the terpineol in T4O has been shown to be effective in killing the bacteria that cause bad breath. It is especially helpful after an oral procedure such as a root canal when fungus can develop in the mouth and cause bad breath. When using T4O in this way, it is important to rinse and spit out all of the liquid. T4O should never be taken internally.

9. Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance

While antibiotics have proven to be effective and useful in fighting bacteria, excessive use can create resistance to their effects, making future doses less effective. By using T40 in conjunction with a traditional antibiotic, the resistance may be prevented, thus allowing the medicine to continue to be effective. “The Open Microbiology Journal” published a study that found evidence of synergy between terpineol and antibiotics.

Where T4O Is Truly Superior

T40 performs all the functions of TTO but outperforms it significantly in one application. A common mite known as Demodex folliculorum can infest the follicles of the eyelashes causing a condition called demodex-associated blepharitis (DAB). A study found that the T4O product Cliradex killed demodex mites in 40 minutes on average. This was the fastest time of the substances tested, half of that of the closest competitor. T4O may well be the best treatment available for DAB.

TTO has been an effective treatment for many ailments for about 100 years. It is a proven product, but T40 contains the same active ingredient and has been shown to be even more effective in the same applications, especially in treating DAB. A terpineol product such as Cliradex is a good item to keep in your medicine cabinet.