Botanical Name: Leptospermum scoparium
Common Method of Extraction: Steam Distilled
Plant Part Typically Used: Leaves and Twigs
Color: Clear to Pale Yellow
Perfumery Note: Middle
Strength of Initial Aroma: Medium
Aromatic Description: Woody, earthy, balsamic.
Manuka Essential Oil Uses: Bronchial infections, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, influenza, skin infections, wounds, cuts, contusions, fungal skin infections, athlete’s foot, parasitic infection, ringworm, mites, head lice, scabies.
Although it’s also known as New Zealand Tea Tree Essential Oil and shares many of the same therapeutic benefits as Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), the aroma of Manuka Essential Oil does not have the medicinal aroma that Tea Tree does.
Aromatically, Manuka Essential Oil is earthy, yet fresh and pleasant.
Emotionally, Manuka Essential Oil tends to be a balancing and soothing essential oil that is grounding when needed. Although it cannot be closely compared to the smell of the earth after a fresh summer rain. Within his Manuka Essential Oil Profile, Salvatore Battaglia shares that “Von Braunschweig says that manuka is a protective oil similar to myrrh and cedarwood. She says that old psychic scars get smoothed and that the sesquiterpenes stabilise and protect the nervous system and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. Manuka’s vitalizing scent is well suited to gentle souls who express themselves through sensitive skin or frequent digestive upsets.” [R. Von Braunschweig. Manuka, Kanuka and Tea Tree Oil – 3 Eessential Oils with Interesting Effects on the Psyche. Proceedings of the Australiasian Aromatherapy Conference, Sydney, 1998. Source cited in Salvatore Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (Australia: The Perfect Potion, 2003), 228.]
Manuka Essential Oil blends well with essential oils in the wood, citrus, herbaceous, spice, mint and medicinal families. Although I characterize it as a middle note, I do find that it possesses characteristics of a base note, and it makes a good bridge between middle and base notes within natural fragrancing and blending applications.
Like many essential oils, Manuka Essential Oil can vary in its composition based on where the tree is grown. However most Manuka Essential Oils are particularly abundant in sesquiterpenes (50-70%) followed by approximately 20% ketones with single percentages of sesquiterpenols and monoterpenes. In comparison, Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), is most abundant in monoterpenes and monoterpenols with a small amount of oxides (particularly 1,8 cineole).
The composition of Manuka Essential Oil lends it to possess a much longer shelf life than Australian Tea Tree essential oil.
Manuka oil is may be used as a carrier oil: A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.
If applied to the skin undiluted, essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and other concentrated aromatics can cause severe irritation, sensitization, redness or burning or other reactions in some individuals. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential and other oils prior to topical application. The term carrier oil is derived from their purpose in carrying the essential oil onto the skin. Aloe vera gel and unscented body lotion are also commonly used as “carriers.” For the scope of this article, however, we will be focusing upon the use of natural vegetable oils as carriers.
Each carrier oil offers a different combination of therapeutic properties and characteristics. The choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought.
Natural lotions, creams, body oils, bath oils, lip balms and other moisturizing skin care products are also made using vegetable (carrier) oils. From a simple essential oil/carrier oil blend to a more complex natural lotion, your choice of carrier oil can make a difference in the therapeutic properties, color, overall aroma and shelf life of your final product.