Can you eat tea tree oil?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat tea tree oil?” and discuss what is its side effects?

Can you eat tea tree oil?

NoYes, you cannot eat tea tree oil. For acne and other superficial skin problems, tea tree oil is typically harmless when used topically. Tea tree oil is harmful if ingested, therefore avoid using it orally. There is evidence of toxicity of tea tree oil by studies with animals and from cases of human poisoning. 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 tea tree oil have been reported in the literature (1).

Steaming Australian tea tree leaves yields an essential oil known as melaleuca oil, often known as tea tree oil. Tea tree oil, when used topically, is thought to be antibacterial. Acne, athlete’s foot, lice, nail fungus, and insect bites may all be treated with tea tree oil.

There are various over-the-counter skincare products that include tea tree oil, such as soaps and lotions. Tea tree oil, on the other hand, should not be ingested. If ingested, it may result in major health complications.

Rapid industrialisation and increasing disposable consumer incomes are the other major factors driving essential oil production in the developing countries of China, India, Vietnam, and Thailand. The majority of consumers by country, according to the data provided by Directorate Marketing of the USDA, are in the US (40%), Western Europe (30%), and Japan (7%) (2).

Typical applications: 

Tea tree oil has been used for a variety of purposes, both conventional and speculative, according to the NLM. All of these applications haven’t been studied for safety or efficacy, according to NLM. Tea tree oil has traditionally been used to treat a wide range of skin ailments, including abrasions, abscesses, acne, bacterial infections, blemishes, blisters, boils, burns, cuts, fungal infections, inflammation, insect bites, rashes, sunburn, viral infections, wounds, burns, cuts, canker sores, corns, eczema, insect bites, rosacea, scabies, and more (3). 

Colds, coughs, bronchial congestion, and irritation of the nose and throat are among the respiratory ailments that have been reported (2). Melanoma, body odor, and infections of the bone and prostate are all cited as traditional applications. Among the chemical components of the tea tree oil, terpinen-4-ol was recognized as the component responsible for its antitumor and proapoptotic activity (4). Tea tree oil exhibited strong cytotoxicity towards human lung cancer cell line, human breast cancer cell line and human prostate cancer cell line (5).

Study after study shows that tea tree oil has some anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties when it comes to individual cells. Tea tree oil has been shown to be beneficial and safe in a small number of human investigations, however, these results have not been replicated. Tea tree oil’s ability to strengthen the human immune system has yet to be shown by scientific research, although this effect was reported in animal studies (6).

Here are a few studies looking at how they affect skin conditions:

Its use in the treatment of furunculosis in a study in the United States showed that the application of the neat oil 2-3 times daily appeared to hasten clearing of the boil site and reduce the necessity for surgery. In a comparative study of tea tree oil versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne, a product containing 5% tea tree oil resulted in a significant reduction in the number of acne lesions. In addition, there were fewer unwanted side effects with the 5% tea tree gel than with the 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. A study reported a patient’s apparent success using vaginal pessaries containing tea tree oil for treating anaerobic vaginitis (7).

  • Tea tree oil and clotrimazole were evaluated in 1994 research for the treatment of fingernail fungus. They both had a similar impact.
  • It was discovered in 1990 research that tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide both worked, although tea tree oil took longer to take effect and had fewer negative effects.
  • Tolnaftate was shown to be more effective than tea tree oil in healing the fungus infection in 1992 research, however tea tree oil improved the patient’s symptoms as much as tolnaftate.

Side Effects

Tea tree oil’s side effects include skin irritation, particularly at higher quantities. It has also been linked to skin problems, including hives, allergic contact dermatitis, skin irritation and photosensitization (1,3). So far, there has been one case of breast augmentation among boys under the age of 18 who used lavender and tea tree oils in their personal care products. 

If this were a frequent effect, it would have been noticed long ago; the authors published the information so that doctors may use essential oils in the treatment of boys with breast growth.).


Tea tree oil is considered to be toxic if ingested, therefore it’s best not to use it unless absolutely necessary. Mistakenly delivered to him by his mother, the infant ended up in the hospital (from which he recovered). 

For whatever reason, tea tree oil should not be swallowed. Traditional applications of tea tree oil include mouthwash, foul breath therapy, and toothache and oral ulcer treatment (7).

Tea tree oil and pets

Anecdotal evidence suggests that high doses of tea tree oil applied to the skin of cats and dogs may cause toxicity and death. Muscle tremors, weakness, trouble walking, low body temperature, and excessive salivation have all been reported as possible side effects. It’s just as important to obey label directions for dogs as it is for human beings (1).

Non-medicinal uses

Tea tree oil may be found in a variety of home items, including cleaning products, as well as in toothpaste. As a “natural” and “green” product, it is marketed as such. Although “natural” does not always equal “non-toxic,” tea tree oil is unpleasant to certain individuals and is dangerous if ingested in large amounts. Studies report tea tree oil’s effectiveness inhibiting growth of several different bacteria, and because tea tree oil is a safe and sustainable material to use, its use as a common cleaning agent (8).

Studies are also required to assess whether or not tea tree oil is safe for the environment. In order to keep these goods out of the hands of youngsters, they should be kept in their original containers, away from medications or food.

To learn more about eating tea tree oil click here

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

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In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat tea tree oil?” and we discussed what is its side effects?


  1. Carson, Christine F., Katherine A. Hammer, and Thomas V. Riley. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clin microbiol rev, 2006, 19, 50-62.
  2. Barbieri, Cinzia, and Patrizia Borsotto. Essential oils: market and legislation. Potential of essential oils ,2018, 107-127.
  3. Orchard, Ané, and Sandy van Vuuren. Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases. Evidence-Based Complem Altern Med, 2017.
  4. Di Martile, Marta, et al. Antitumor effect of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil and its main component terpinen-4-ol in combination with target therapy in melanoma models. Cell death discovery, 2021, 7, 1-13.
  5. Liu, Xia, et al. Antimicrobial activity and cytotoxicity towards cancer cells of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. Euro Food Res Technol, 2009, 229, 247-253.
  6. Baldissera, Matheus D., et al. Effect of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on the longevity and immune response of rats infected by Trypanosoma evansi. Res veter sci, 2014, 96, 501-506.
  7. Carson, C. F., and T. V. Riley. Antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. Lett Appl Microbiol, 1993, 16, 49-55.
  8. Fitzpatrick, Mary. Antimicrobial action of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on five common bacteria. 2013.