Tea tree oil is a well-known herbal remedy. As an antiseptic and antifungal, it’s a popular ingredient in many shampoos, soaps, and more. You might be wondering whether humans can ingest tea tree oil. If tea tree oil is great at killing bacteria on the outside of our bodies, wouldn’t it do good internally, too? After all, it’s natural, right?
Unfortunately, “natural” is not the same as “non-toxic”. Let’s make one thing clear from the start – humans can’t ingest tea tree oil. Most bottles of oil will clearly state “for external use only”.
Of course, you’re unlikely to be tempted to swig a whole bottle of tea tree oil just to see what it tastes like. You might be wondering whether humans can ingest tea tree oil because of an internal problem, or even an injury (like an ulcer) inside your mouth.
Let’s briefly discuss whether it’s safe to use tea tree oil inside your mouth, and how much tea tree oil is toxic.
Is It Safe to Use Tea Tree Oil In Your Mouth?
Some products do contain tea tree oil. For example, some mouthwashes, shampoos, or toothpastes might contain trace amounts of tea tree oil.
It’s important to realise that these products only contain a tiny bit of the oil – likely less than a drop. Tea tree oil contains terpenes, which is bad for our bodies and puts stress on the liver and kidneys. Drinking tea tree oil, or using a few drops or more inside your mouth, can lead to poisoning – and it probably tastes disgusting, too.
What Happens if I Lick Tea Tree Oil?
If you get a very small amount of tea tree oil in your mouth, you’ll likely be fine. For example, suppose you have a cold sore on your lip, and you decide to add a few drops of tea tree oil onto a cotton ball and dab the area, accidentally getting some oil inside your mouth.
It’s probably going to taste bad, but you shouldn’t get tea tree oil poisoning from such a small amount.
How Much Tea Tree Oil is Toxic If Swallowed?
Even as little as half a teaspoon of tea tree oil can produce serious effects, like vomiting, rashes, and more.
If you’ve ingested tea tree oil, even a small amount, contact a doctor or poison control. Remember, tea tree oil is usually sold in concentrated amounts. It’s designed to be administered a few drops at a time, either onto a cotton ball or into a diluted solution.
Tea tree oil is not meant to be taken internally.
Can You Use 100% Tea Tree Oil on the Human Body?
You can use 100% tea tree oil, but you should always follow the instructions carefully and use a dilution medium. For example, a few drops of tea tree oil can be added to a different type of oil, before being applied to the body.
This is because tea tree oil can have a powerful effect on the skin. It can cause tingling, itching, irritation, inflammation, or even a rash. However, you can absorb oils through your skin. So, applying too much tea tree oil to your skin – or using a powerful concentration of oil, undiluted – could lead to tea tree oil poisoning.
Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
Generally speaking, tea tree oil is a safe product to use. However, there are some warning signs you should watch out for. They could indicate that you’re suffering from tea tree oil poisoning, or that you’re developing an allergy to the oil.
Watch out for:
- Red, itchy, scaly, or irritated skin
- Localized tingling or burning
- Headaches and nausea, possibly accompanied by dizziness
- Loss of consciousness
If you notice one or all of these symptoms, stop using the product and see a doctor.
The Bottom Line
Used properly, tea tree oil is a powerful natural remedy for a number of minor health issues. However, it shouldn’t replace proper medicines or visits to your doctor. That being said, there’s no reason why tea tree oil shouldn’t be a staple of everyone’s medicine cabinet.