Often and unfortunately, ulcers on the feet become a common result of diabetes. Once an open wound is present on the foot, it also becomes prone to complications that may rise from infection.
Prevention of infection may be achieved through the use of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral essential oils like Tea Tree oil. Tea Tree oil is also a commonly recommended essential oil that has historically assisted with the recovery of foot ulcers for several reasons.
First, Tea Tree oil has an unusually high concentration of terpinen-4-ol, an alcohol, which constitutes up to 35% of the finest quality Tea Tree oils. Research indicates the Terpinen-4-ol, successfully helps the body achieve normal inflammation levels, as indicated in a November 2003, Australian study. Inflammation naturally occurs any time the body responds to trauma within the body. Inflammation results in redness, swelling, increased body temperature and pain. Thus, reducing inflammation may result in a reduction of the discomforts associated with the ulcer. Additionally, Tea Tree oil is used on foot ulcers is, because Tea Tree oil contains a unique blend of constituents that cannot be found in this combination anywhere else in nature. In 1978, G. Swords and G. L. K. Hunter authored an article titled: ‘Composition of Australian Tea-Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)’ in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (vol. 26, 1978, pp. 734-9). This article pointed out that Tea Tree contains viridiflorene, present at I %, B- terpineol (0.24%) 1-terpineol (trace amounts) and allyl hexanoate (trace amounts).
Second, Tea Tree oil has been reported to have strong antiseptic properties. An antiseptic is defined as an anti-microbial substance that is applied to living tissue or skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis (defined below), or putrefaction (defined below).
Sepsis is defined as a serious medical issue, resulting from the immune response to a severe infection, where by harmful bacteria enters the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream the entire body may be under attack. In severe cases organ failure and death may result. According to sepsis.com, “early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can greatly improve survival rates.” Unfortunately, “since November 21, 2001, it is estimated that 4,804,000 people have developed severe sepsis, and 1,377,000 are estimated to have died.”
A completely different issue that many people with foot ulcers sometimes face, is the strong, piercing, foul odor that can be produced by foot ulcers. Putrefaction describes this and is defined as the decomposition of animal proteins, speed up by bacteria that feed on that protein, allowing the flesh to rot or decompose, sometimes resulting in a putrid odor.
A small list of additional essential oils has also been noted to assist with ulcers:
Frankincense (Boswell carteri),
Rose (Rosa dmascena),
Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea),
Lemon (Citrus limonum) and Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Two processes are suggested for the application of essential oils to an open wound. First, you may choose to put one or two drops of the essential oil directly onto a cotton ball or a cotton swab. Then simply dab the ulcer with the cotton ball. Second, you may choose to make a compress. A compress can either be hot or cold. Typically, a cold compress is used in the presence of a fever, acute pain or swelling. You may choose to alternate between a hot and cold compress until you are able to determine which one produces the best results. You may even find that a combination of a hot and cold compress used at alternating times, is the best option.
To make a compress, place 6 drops of essential oil into a small bowl of water. Then soak a piece of absorbent material in the mixture. The material can literally be anything the holds the liquid, such as a towel or washcloth. Do not remove the piece of material until it cannot hold one more drop of the liquid mixture. Then remove the material and twist it until the excess liquid is drained out of the material. This is done simply to prevent excessive spillage. After draining the extra liquid, the cloth may be applied to the open wound. The compress should remain on the wound for at least 2 hours. However, leaving the compress on the wound overnight may be even more beneficial.
In summary, Tea Tree oil is a noted antiseptic and may work extremely well to reduce the microbial invaders that try to attack the body through the open sore of a foot ulcer. Tea Tree oil may establish a barrier so strong that it is able to keep bacterial and viral invaders out of the blood stream. This anti-microbial function of Tea Tree oil may also be the necessary component that results in a reduction or total elimination of the distracting odor that diabetic foot ulcers sometimes produce. In addition to these benefits, Tea Tree oil is also believed to possess qualities that may be able to assist the body with inflammation created by the body in reaction to the trauma of the ulcer. This benefits the body as the pain and the swelling associated with the inflammation is normalized or reduced.