Manuka Essential Oil: Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects
Manuka essential oil is a tree oil that has long been used by the native populations of New Zealand. The oil has traditionally played a role in preventing bacterial infections, improving symptoms of dry scalp, and for its relaxing nature.
Manuka oil is a relatively unknown oil and is commonly confused with other tea tree
oils. In recent years, interest in manuka honey and manuka oil have spiked. As a result, the oil is becoming increasingly popular in the western world and in medical research circles. Discover more about manuka essential oil and its potential benefits for skin, oral, and preventative health.
What Is Manuka Essential Oil?
Manuka oil is extracted from plant parts of the manuka myrtle known by the botanical name Leptospermum scoparium. The tree is native to the east cape of New Zealand and is also called the broom tea-tree or New Zealand tea tree.
While the name is similar, this plant and its resulting essential oil are different than tea tree essential oil. Tea tree oil is made from the plant parts of the tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia. These two trees belong to the same family known as Myrtaceae and feature many of the same characteristics and benefits though they are still distinct oils. The oil is also separate from manuka honey, which is wildly popular in health food circles.
Manuka oil is extracted from the stems, leaves, and twigs of the manuka tree. The plant parts are subjected to an extraction method known as steam distillation where water is used to draw out the plant oils. The resulting oil contains high concentrations of linalool, a-pinene, and geraniol.
Manuka essential oil blends well with tea tree oil, clary sage oil, and Melissa essential oil. To enhance the invigorating properties of the oil, combine it with citrus oils such as bergamot oil, grapefruit seed oil, or lemon oil.
Uses and Benefits of Manuka Essential Oil
Manuka essential oil has long been used by the local Maori people in New Zealand, Sailors like the famous Captain Cook were also given manuka tea to help treat symptoms of scurvy (1). Today, modern science has only begun an investigation into the essential oil. Here are some potential benefits of manuka oil backed by recent scientific studies.
Manuka essential oil may help to alleviate symptoms of dry skin and scalp. That’s because the oil helps to increase hydration and features antibacterial properties that can prevent skin infections that cause dry skin. It’s a common ingredient in skincare products —, particularly in Asia.
A study published in Pharmazie found that Australian tea tree oil and manuka oil demonstrated the strongest antimicrobial activity against staphylococcus aureus. Manuka oil was particularly effective against gram-positive bacteria and antibiotic-resistant strains (2).
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of manuka oil may also offer some benefits for oral health. A study published in Oral Microbiology and Immunology found that manuka essential oil helped to inhibit bacterial growth more effectively than lavender oil, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil. The study found that manuka oil was extremely effective against the bacteria that cause cavities and gingivitis (3).
Manuka oil boasts anti-inflammatory properties that may help to decrease inflammation, redness, and histamine reactions to bug bites. These properties work to reduce swelling that can cause localized pain at the bite point (4). Research published BioMed Research International found that a combination of manuka oil, oregano oil, and clove bud oil was effective in eliminating mosquito larvae (5).
Deodorant, Shampoo, & Body Wash
The antibacterial properties of manuka oil make it a great ingredient for DIY shampoos and soaps. The oil can also be used to keep shoes smelling clean and fresh and may lower the risk of Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. Just add a few drops of the oil to your shoe inserts or shampoo recipe and relish the fresh and fragrant feel.
Side Effects of Manuka Essential Oil
Manuka essential oil offers few side effects when used properly. The most common side effect is skin irritation. To avoid skin issues, apply a few drops of manuka oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Do not apply the essential oil directly to the skin. Test the oil on a small patch of skin and wait 24 hours before applying more liberally.
Always seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional before using essential oils. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize manuka oil as a viable treatment for any ailments or conditions. The recent research listed here is for educational purposes only and does not mean these benefits can be used for treatment.
Keep essential oils out of reach of children as they may ingest the highly concentrated plants. Do not use manuka oil on children under the age of two as their sensitive skin and immune systems are more likely to develop adverse reactions.
Manuka oil is an essential oil derived from the New Zealand tea tree. This essential oil may help to prevent fungal infections and protect skin and oral health. The oil is also an excellent ingredient to add to homemade deodorants or body wash. Manuka oil boasts powerful antibacterial properties that work to fight bacteria that cause body odor.