Articles, Blog

Is Tea Tree Oil Safe?

August 25, 2019

“Is Tea Tree Oil Safe?” Is tea tree oil toxic? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the
topical use of the oil is relatively safe and that adverse events are minor,
self-limiting, and occasional. Published data, however,
add some caveats: it can be toxic if ingested; it can also cause skin irritation
at higher concentrations. Now, normally, tea tree oil
reduces skin inflammation. 27 volunteers had histamine
injected in their skin, the equivalent of like getting
bitten by a fire ant, but the big red swollen mark
significantly decreased after the application of tea tree oil. Here’s where the bump was
at 20 minutes after injection. Apply a placebo oil, and
it continues to get worse before finally beginning to calm down. But if at 20 minutes, you apply half
of a single drop of pure tea tree oil, it stops the inflammation in its tracks
and it immediately starts getting better. Some people are sensitive to it though
and it can instead trigger a rash. This is relatively rare though with only about 1% of older children
and adults having such reaction. And none of the 40 younger
children tested had a reaction, which is good since it can be found
in like 5% of diaper wipes and lotions. Most reactions, when they do occur, are
caused by the application of pure oil, so there are recommendations
to keep the concentration of tea tree oil products applied
to the skin under 1%. Moreover, manufacturers may want
to use antioxidants and dark bottles to minimize exposure to light, since aged, oxidized oils are more
likely to induce allergic reactions. Hundreds of different compounds
have been identified in tea tree oil, but the composition changes when exposed to light, air, humidity,
and higher temperatures. It can start turning a green-brownish
color, the viscosity changes, and the smell becomes turpentine-like.
All bad signs. Even fresh tea tree oil
shouldn’t be ingested though. Two hours before arriving at the pediatric
critical care unit, a 4-year-old’s mother had given him approximately
2 teaspoons of tea tree oil. Within 30 minutes,
he had trouble walking, and shortly thereafter fell into a coma. They note the tea tree oil was in
a bottle without a childproof cap, but it didn’t matter in this case because
the cap wasn’t mother-proof either. Similar cases are reported at
even less than two teaspoons, though the reported adult poisoning cases
have tended to involve larger doses. Thankfully, no human deaths caused
by tea tree oil have been reported, though note the qualifier “human.” It has been implicated in the deaths
of pets when used inappropriately when trying to treat fleas or something. Cats in particular are at risk because
of their habit of licking their fur. In humans, though, it can apparently
be used safely if you avoid ingestion, apply only diluted oil topically, and only
use oil that has been stored correctly.


  • Reply BudG September 10, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    First in India,
    First like,
    First comment.

  • Reply Colin September 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Idk is it?

  • Reply Eelke Aptroot September 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    So safe when used properly, yeah that figures…

  • Reply Bettina Vogel September 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Not mothersafe – like cowmilk – so I won't give teetreeoil to the cat either not for intake for anyone. But for outside-use it is ok. Thank for this – I like teetree-oil – the last oil in the house.

  • Reply lala lala September 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Dr. Greger please make a video about Perioral Dermatitis and how to cure it.

  • Reply Lilliana Gott September 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Everyone go to vegan zombie and donate so he can make his film vegan zombie it will help so many animals

  • Reply Carl P. September 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I often soak my dental tape or floss in teatree oil before use. Probably too extreme ha?

  • Reply littlesometin September 10, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Dr. Greger could you please make more videos on skincare; what the scientific literature says about certain ingredients, what works, what's just marketing etc.
    Skincare can be ridiculously expensive, but there's very little reliable information out there on whether it's actually worth it.

  • Reply Hiddden Hedge September 10, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Killed a toad last month after applying one drop to his skin where fly larvae had just been removed. Bad idea

  • Reply michael onello September 10, 2018 at 1:44 pm


  • Reply James Garland September 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    When sick I tend to add a few drops of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil to boiling water and steam for about 10-15min. This kicks the cold really quickly. However, is this considered ok?

  • Reply gdcat777 September 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I have never liked tea tree oil, the smell, the effect, even in a diluted state. I've had more irritation from off the shelf products and am throwing all of it away. It sucks.

  • Reply Person McPerson September 10, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Great info as always. I used to apply it to blemishes and it worked until the likely exposure to sunlight did turn my clear-bottled tto the darkened color. I haven't bought it in years but the inflammation results were good for me when I did use it and I did use a lower concentration as indicated is best. Thanks for breaking down the data as always, very easy to digest (unlike tto…never ever ingest!!)

  • Reply Maureen K September 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Another great video!

  • Reply Frank Chase September 10, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    I put some 100% TTO on the exterior of my ear to (hopefully) treat an infection, and it basically burned the skin off.  Be careful with this stuff, and remember to dilute!

  • Reply Michael Holland September 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    what do we think about using in a diffuser? Its definitely diluted to less than 1% so its safe for coming in contact with our skin but we're breathing it in…as long as we arent noticing any adverse effects it should be fine, right?

  • Reply lolitalovelolita September 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    I use teatree on my pets … not anymore though… 👀😸🐶❤

  • Reply macho tony September 10, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I use it as a mouthwash. I also rinse my mouth with water afterwards so I'm not swallowing TTO.

  • Reply Lichtblick September 10, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Öl ist Gift!

  • Reply Jennifer Jones September 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    “Stored correctly”. Ah…there’s the rub. It is not possible to know that manufacturers of tea tree oil containing products do this properly.

  • Reply VoteGreen September 10, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    The FDA wants Truth In Advertising on all natural products! Why doesn't the FDA want Truth In Advertising on all pharmaceutical drugs that promise the world?

  • Reply Mike D September 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    What software do you use to animate how you quote from documents? Thanks!

  • Reply Rachel P September 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I love TTO and have used it all my life. Definitely dilute with carrier oils, and do not use on pets unless washing away! It’s nice to add some to dog shampoo but make damn sure you rinse thoroughly! I use it in household cleaner I make, I add a few drops to my dishwasher and washing machine, and I mix it with coconut oil to use on any rashes or insect bites etc. I also love it in my shampoo and body wash!

  • Reply Natalie Carlson September 10, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I had mosquito bites ALL over my arms and legs when I was in India a few years ago and basically dumped an entire bottle of tea tree oil on my skin for some relief. Whoops. At least I had no reactions to it. xD

  • Reply Keepskatin September 10, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Oh shit, I need my tea tree oil. It helps my razor bumps. I should use more aloe vera also. Thankfully this video supports it's use to be safe.

  • Reply TheKetsa September 10, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    hmmm… I sometime use a drop of tea tree oil in water as mouthwash. Nothing bad to report so far.

  • Reply Flying Angel September 10, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Dear Dr Greger, (or anyone here that could help me)

    what can a woman in her mid 50´s do to low high blood pressure?

    I am asking because my mom is having an issue with high blood pressure at the moment and I am trying to find a way to help her out with it. her blood pressure is 180/80 as of today. she actually eats healthy, doesnt eat meat that much, but loves butter and occasionanny drinks milk and drinks lots of coffee. she went to the doctor to check because she is having medial pain in the thorax region and she is also reporting having rapid heartbeats, mostly when she is doing something or when she gets nervous or agitated about something. she said that she is also dealing with depression because of loneliness. she lives alone, has no partner or friends. we both live in germany and here we only have each other as family members. she is single since years and that is making her depressed. she is at home today and the doctor told her to rest a little bit.

    today we spoke on the phone, she cried and kinda talked to me like she was already saying good bye. I am kinda confused because you actually never expect something happen to your parents. I dont want to lose my mother and I would love to at least try to help her get better.

    Is there any types of food that she can eat to low down the bp?

    I am scared about her 🙁

  • Reply Олег Голованов September 10, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    "even less than two teaspoons".
    Cmon, its just 2 teaspoons of ESSENTIAL OIL, i usually drink it instead of water and no problem.

  • Reply Danielle Vaughn September 10, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Yes its safe if used topically when diluted but not safe to ingest. Got it! ❤🌿

  • Reply Patricia Davidson September 10, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Some people can not tolerate Tea Tree Oil. I am one who can't. I've had it in shampoos and lotions. Makes me sick too my stomach and irritates my skin.

  • Reply Nick Walton September 10, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Listened to this video while fully submerged in a bath of 100% tea tree oil. The paralysis is so relaxing! Though I am starting to feel slee

  • Reply Good Times September 10, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    It makes hippies smell. That was enough to warn me off.

  • Reply Shaz W September 10, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    I know this is not related to tea tree oil, but what do you think of videos like this? I see them as people pretending to know things that they don't fully understand and trying to make things black and white:

  • Reply Joseph1NJ September 10, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Not much value in this video is there.

  • Reply StoptheNWO2012 September 11, 2018 at 1:42 am


  • Reply Blank Space September 11, 2018 at 1:45 am

    I found diluted tea tree oil to be pretty ineffective especially at 1%. I apply just a drop onto rashes, irritation, acne and it works great. I never had a bad reaction, but obviously be careful to not use too much. A drop is enough

  • Reply Edgar September 11, 2018 at 2:54 am

    How not to die!

  • Reply Lisa Marie September 11, 2018 at 5:41 am

    Tea tree oil and lavender oil are endocrine disrupters. They increase estrogen and decrease testosterone according to a new study by NIEHS researchers. Causes gynecomastia in prepubescent boys. Stay far away from tea tree oil if you value your hormonal health

  • Reply Nature Positive September 11, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Do not put it at Mucosa areas on your body! It is dangerous.

  • Reply Dawn Ross September 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I had an infected bite on my leg, used a tiny dab of neat TTO on it a couple of times and it healed quickly. Also use it diluted as a mouthwash. Thanks for the info though, good to know.

  • Reply cp honey September 11, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I remember a video of a woman who for months to years had horrible allergic reactions – and continued to eat essential oils against them..
    Didn't know they could cause allergic or any bad reactions. Damn I'm half her age and knew that for years, it says so even on the bottles.. Felt bad for her still, so much suffering because of lack of knowledge.

  • Reply Rose Robertson September 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Corruption loud apply grovsv deal primary market pastor.

  • Reply Shaijah Wolf September 11, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Pls do a video on salicylic acid for acne

  • Reply Gorka September 11, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    what about castor oil for eyes, to eliminate the mocus?

  • Reply Freddie September 12, 2018 at 8:41 am

    But what If it is used in a toothpaste? One you can buy at your healthfood store.

  • Reply Finest Kind September 13, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I don't use it on my dogs because they'll lick it off.

  • Reply Treviath September 13, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    My question is why inflamation is bad? It's body's way of regulating its fixing mechanisms.

  • Reply William Read September 14, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Make some lyme disease videos please, and other tick disease videos

  • Reply Brian Gawlik September 19, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Tea tree oil is also commonly used in DIY mouthwash solutions. I've made my own from time to time. I'm curious to hear more about the safety in this context.

  • Reply Westwood1816 November 1, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I vaporized it in a diffuser and used it topically a lot with no side effects.  Then I decided to try using it diluted in water as mouth wash and spit it out.  Bad idea.  Needed to call 911 within 30 minutes.  It is HIGHLY toxic if ingested in my experience.  Luckily blood pressure and pulse stabilized by the time emergency crews arrived but I still felt very shaky and terrified for several hours.  It was very traumatizing.  Don't get any in your mouth or spray on cats because they lick their fur.  Now I am kind of afraid of it.

  • Reply Stu Garrett January 25, 2019 at 10:00 am this video is video touched me.

  • Reply Lu James January 30, 2019 at 8:17 am

    very useful information

  • Reply infinite8 March 17, 2019 at 5:00 am


  • Reply GreenGretel March 19, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    What's an example of a good tea tree oil brand/product that's safely diluted? Most of the tea tree oils for sale seem to be selling 100% tea tree oil, no mention of dilution…

  • Reply eduardo espinosa July 27, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Man I bathe myself in that stuff it’s awesome! Diluted in water obviously, I only ingested like 2-3 drops straight to my mouth when I had the worst cold and soar in my throat, actually helped, still here! Great for skincare also!

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