Tea tree oil is one of the many herbal/plant solutions which can be used at home as a simple, but highly effective treatment for a wide spectrum of ailments.

It is a broad spectrum antiseptic with high levels of biocidal activity against bacteria, fungi and insects.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil distilled (steam distillation process) from the leaves of the paperbark tree species melaleuca alternifolia.

The tree is endemic to the moist, sub tropical coast of north eastern New South Wales and south east Queensland in Australia and has evolved its own natural defence mechanism against disease and insects.

It was the Australian aborigines who were first aware of these healing properties and used poultices of crushed leaves on cuts and abrasions.

Although it is believed that Captain Cook was responsible for telling the rest of the world about these remedies, it wasn¨t until the 1920s that tea tree oil began to be marketed commercially.

In 1925, A R Penfold first isolated the oil from the leaves by the steam distillation method and it was also he who established that its antiseptic efficacy was up to 13 times more powerful than carbolic acid (the most common antiseptic of the period).

In the 1930s and 40s, tea tree oil was acclaimed as the near perfect topical antiseptic and during World War II, the Australian army provided their soldiers with sprigs of tea tree in their first aid kits.

However with the advent of antibiotics after the war, tea tree oil was left on the shelf until its revival in the 1970s, when the first professional plantations were set up.

Since then, tea tree oil is widely used as a highly effective topical antiseptic and mild local anaesthetic for cuts, abrasions, skin infections, insect bites, boils and athletes foot.

For horses, tea tree oil has now become an essential part of most owners first aid kit. As well as helping to treat insect bites, stings and ringworm, tea tree oil has also proved effective in treating:

  • sweet itch

  • mud fever

  • rain scald

  • cracked hooves

  • saddle sores

  • thrush

    Information supplied by Equine Health and Herbal, manufacturers of a range of Tea Tree Oil based products, including shampoo, leg wash, cream and hoof oil.

    For further details contact 01787 476400 or visit www.equinehealthandherbal.co.uk