Is tea tree oil safe in Earthpaste?

By March 14, 2013 Learning No Comments

We created Earthpaste because we were frustrated trying to find toothpaste pure enough for our kids to use. Some brands skipped sodium lauryl sulphate, but not titanium dioxide. Others were fluoride-free but still had glycerin. We wanted toothpaste so pure each ingredient would help support good health, and after a lot of careful research, we made Earthpaste.

Since each Earthpaste ingredient is so important to us, we’re creating a series of posts discussing each one. We’ll start with the only ingredient our customers ever raise a brow at: tea tree oil.

Is it safe to use tea tree oil internally?

Tea Tree OilThis question is probably why you’re here, so let’s get to it! The popular medical reference site, WebMD, summarizes the concern quite well:

As a general rule never take undiluted essential oils by mouth due to the possibility of serious side effects. Taking tree tea oil by mouth has caused confusion, inability to walk, unsteadiness, rash, and coma.

Yes, that sentence ends with the word “coma”. No wonder you’re asking about the tea tree oil in Earthpaste! If we only chose ingredients we want our kids ingesting, why would we choose an ingredient like that?

Different perspectives

First, we should note that many herbologists and naturalists disagree with conventional warnings like this one. (Some, like Dr. Penoel, actually recommend 1-2 drops of undiluted tea tree oil to counter various ailments.) We’re not doctors, so we’re going to dodge that debate and proceed as if WebMD’s mainstream views are accurate, because you don’t need to be a naturalist or herbologist to be comfortable with tea tree oil in Earthpaste.

Diluted vs full-strength

The most important word in the WebMD warning is “undiluted.” We’d freak out if we saw our toddler chugging a dropper-full of straight tea tree oil, but when we see her with Earthpaste, we feel that warm-and-fuzzy happy parent feeling. Here’s why.

Just how diluted is it?

The amount of tea tree oil in Earthpaste is so small, we’re going to have to use our imagination to really get a feel for it. Let’s say your tube of Earthpaste were as long as a standard basketball court—94 feet. In a tube of Earthpaste that size, the tea tree oil would be about one quarter of one inch. For a natural comparison, if your tube of Earthpaste were as long as a blue whale, the tea tree oil would be shorter than a honeybee.

Maybe you’re not really into basketball courts and whales, so here are the raw numbers: Each tube of Earthpaste contains 0.0174 milliliters of tea tree oil, which is 0.00353 teaspoons, or roughly half a drop. Let’s say you get 50 amazingly natural teeth-brushings from each tube. Each time you brush, you’ll have 0.0000706 of a teaspoon of tea tree oil on your toothbrush, part of 0.42 teaspoons of Earthpaste. A very small number, and a long ways from the warnings over undiluted essential oils.

But what are the benefits?

If the amount is so little, you might wonder why we include tea tree oil at all. The amazing thing about essential oils—about nature, in general—is how well simple things work when combined in the right way. Even in tiny, diluted ratios, tea tree oil is a strong antimicrobial, helping your teeth and gums feel fresh and clean.

Still feeling unsure?

We’re sold on the safety—and benefits—of using tea tree oil in Earthpaste, but we understand if you’re not. Fortunately, Earthpaste Lemon Twist is there for you. It has all the benefits you’d expect from Earthpaste, a fresh, citrusy taste, and no tea tree oil — the perfect option, even if tea tree oil isn’t your thing.

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