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  • If You Like Tea Tree Essential Oil, You Need to Meet Manuka

    Basic Info About Manuka

    Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a flowering shrub native to New Zealand and Australia. It grows in the bush and is harvested from the wild. Plants grown at higher altitudes have greater antibacterial properties than those grown at low altitudes. So if you find a reputable supplier listing a high altitude manuka, make sure to order a bottle.

    What’s Manuka Good For?

    It is often called New Zealand Ti-tree (tea tree) because it has highly antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties like tea tree does. Because of this, you can use it instead of tea tree during spring cleaning.

    Manuka has long been used by the Maori people for issues such as bronchitis, rheumatism, and similar ailments. While it has many of the same properties as tea tree, manuka also has a few that tea tree doesn’t.

    Here are a few ways to make excellent use of manuka’s therapeutic properties.

    Diffuse for:

    • Bronchitis
    • Sinusitis
    • Most respiratory infections
    • Nasal/sinus congestion
    • Staph and strep infections

    Use as spray (with dispersants) or apply diluted to skin when needed for:

    • Keeping insects at bay (insecticidal)
    • Cold sores
    • Cuts, scrapes, boils, ulcers
    • Acne
    • Insect bites and stings
    • Allergic rashes (anti-histamine action)
    • Candida and thrush
    • Muscle pain
    • Rheumatism

    While doing research for this article, I saw several anecdotal stories of using it to ease symptoms of chronic fatigue but none of the accounts mentioned how they used it. I present it here only as information, not as a recommendation.

    Precautions When Using Manuka

    Manuka has a drying effect on the skin, so if you have dry skin make sure to dilute it well before applying.

    Manuka Blends

    While similar in effect to tea tree, the aroma of manuka is nothing like it. Manuka has a slightly sweet, some say, honeyish smell. It blends well with just about any oil that has a similar therapeutic use.

    Manuka Trivia

    Manuka is a distant cousin to tea tree. In order to explain, we need a quick high school science review. Plants and animals are divided into 7 categories:

    1. Kingdom
    2. Phylum
    3. Class
    4. Order
    5. Family
    6. Genus
    7. Species

    When we refer to the proper or Latin name of a plant we use the Genus and species names where the Genus name is capitalized and the species name is always lowercase.  In human terms, you can think of genus as the immediate family and family as the extended family.

    Tea tree’s Latin name is Melaleuca alternifolia and manuka’s is Leptospermum scoparium, so they’re not closely related enough to be in the same genus. They are, however, both in the Myrtaceae family which makes them the plant equivalent of distant cousins.