Cajeput Essential Oil: What You Need to Know About This Tea Tree Oil Relative

Learn why this Tiger Balm ingredient is revered for relieving pain.
Cajeput Essential Oil: What You Need to Know About This Tea Tree Oil Relative

Cajeput oil is not well known, even though it is related to essential oil powerhouses like tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil. These oils boast strong, penetrating aromas and are pale yellow or light green in color. Cajeput oil features a bold aroma that is uplifting and invigorating. It also boasts extensive health benefits for skin and is a good pain relief addition to any home.

Cajeput oil was formerly known as white tea tree oil. It is an ingredient in Tiger Balm and revered for its pain-relieving properties. It has been used in Asia as a treatment for the common cold. This oil is also a common ingredient in cough medicines as well as soaps and detergents. Read on to learn more about cajeput essential oil and how you can use it to get rid of insects, even skin tone, and enhance mood.

What Is Cajeput Essential Oil?

Cajeput essential oil is derived from a variety of cajeput trees known by the botanical names Melaleuca cajuputi and Melaleuca leucadendra. These trees are known in Indonesia as kayaputi and in the USA as punk trees or paperbark trees. The Cajeput tree is related to the melaleuca family, which produces tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia).


Cajeput trees are cultivated widely in Vietnam, Malaysia, New Guinea, Australia, and across the Indonesian archipelago. These trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and feature red, white, and purple flower blossoms. The tree has a white, thin, and flaky bark that is similar to parchment paper in texture. The oil derives its name from the Indonesian words ‘kayu putih’ meaning white wood. The main country of origin and the largest oil-producing region is the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.


The oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the cajeput tree using an extraction method known as steam distillation. It takes around 100 pounds of these materials to produce one pound of essential cajeput oil. The cajeputi plant parts are harvested on dry, hot days and mashed into a thick pulp. The pulp is allowed to ferment overnight before the oil is steam distilled.


Cajeput, or cajuput oil, features a piercing aroma that helps to clarify the mind and senses. The oil has a high concentration of terpenes and camphor that lends a fresh, tingling essence to the fragrance. The oil is often described as a blend of rosemary, camphor, and cardamom. The aroma is fruity and sweet with a biting finishing note. It is similar to eucalyptus and tea tree oils in fragrance strength. Cajeput essential oil blends well with clove bud oil, lemon oil, cedarwood oil, and oregano oil.

Health Benefits of Cajeput Essential Oil

1. Skin Care

Cajeput essential oil is full of antioxidants that help skin looking its best. These antioxidants fight free radicals that can cause premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. The oil is popular in the skincare industry and often used in cosmetics and face creams. Cajeput oil is an astringent that can help to tone skin and even out the appearance of dark spots.

How to Use:

Add 2 drops of cajeput essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil like argan oil to control oily skin. Replace your morning and evening toner with 2 drops of cajeput oil and 2 drops of jojoba oil.

2. Fights Infections

Cajeput oil boasts antiseptic properties that help the immune system fight off infections and viruses. This oil has been used in traditional medicine to treat sore throat, stomach infections, and cough. Cajeput oil can be applied topically to wounds, cuts, and scrapes to prevent infection. This oil also has antibacterial properties that help to fend of bacteria during flu season that can make your sick. One study found that the main compounds responsible for these health benefits are alpha-terpineol and eucalyptol.

An emulsion of cajeput oil and water is used to treat bacterial and fungal infections that can kill fish. These emulsions are sold as medications in local pet stores under the names Melafix and Bettafix. The oil works to prevent rot and to promote cell regeneration.

Cajeput oil has been used historically to treat serious infections including cholera with mixed results. The oil was effective in bringing down the high fevers associated with the disease, but did not cure patients of all symptoms. Research has shown the oil is an effect treatment of symptoms of illness, but may not entirely defeat stronger viruses.

How to Use: Fever Reducer and Wound Salve

Rub 2 drops of cajeput essential oil to your temples or forehead to reduce fever. Combine 2 drops of cajeput oil with 4 drops of coconut or rosehip oil to create a soothing and protecting wound salve. Clean open wounds with warm water and apply the oil mixture directly to the affected area. Cover with a bandage if desired. Repeat as needed until the wound heals.

3. Pain Relief

Cajeput essential oil has analgesic properties that can help to relive the sensation of pain. It has been useful in the treatment of joint pain such as arthritis as well as for sore muscles. This oil is also antispasmodic, meaning it helps to relax muscles that can cramp and cause pain. Cajeput oil is also effective in relieving menstrual cramps.

How to Use: Massage Oil or Oil Pull

Mix 4 drops of cajeput oil with 6 drops of jojoba oil to create massage oil. Gently heat in the microwave to further the pain relief benefits. Gently rub into sore muscles to relieve muscle cramps. Add 2 drops of cajeput oil and 2 drops carrier oil to relieve headaches. Simply massage into temples, on the forehead, or at the base of the neck. For people with arthritis or chronic pain, add a few drops of cajeput oil to your daily lotion and apply liberally.

4. Alleviates Stomach Problems

The antispasmodic properties of cajeput essential oil also help to relieve stomach problems. The chemical compounds in the oil work to relax stomach muscles that tighten and cause stomach cramps. In addition, cajeput oil is a carminative. That means it helps to prevent the formation of gas in the intestinal system. Excess gas can cause bloating and discomfort, especially after rich meals.

How to Use: Before or After Meals

Add a drop of cajeput oil on the skin just below your nose. Breathe in the pungent aroma just after or before a meal to prevent the buildup of excess gas.

5. Therapeutic Properties

The piercing fragrance of cajeput essential oil helps to uplift mood and induce clarity. This oil is particularly useful during times of distress and confusion. The oil can help induce relaxation and allow you to focus on making decisions. Cajeput oil can reduce feelings of anxiety and help to alleviate symptoms of depression.

How to Use: Aromatherapy

Cajeput essential oil can be used in small amounts in aromatherapy to uplift mood. The pungent nature of this oil can trigger respiratory problems when used in a diffuser. The oil can be particularly dangerous for people with breathing conditions. Instead, rub 1 drop of the oil onto your hands and cup them beneath your nose. Breathe deeply and unwind. If you are worried about a respiratory reaction, mix the oil with carrier oil before inhalation. Avoid if you have asthma.

6. Kills Bugs

Cajeput oil has strong insecticidal properties that help to eliminate insects such as mosquitoes and ants. A study published by the Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases examined the use of cajeput oil against mosquitoes. Scientists alternated a 5% and 10% cajeput oil concentration on two types of mosquitoes. Both types of mosquito are carriers of the Dengue virus. Results showed both concentrations killed mosquitoes on contact, with the 10% concentration being more effective overall.

A second study conducted by researchers at Seoul National University examined the effectiveness of cajeput oil in eliminating termites. The scientists soaked pieces of filter paper in cajeput oil and placed it in a community of termites. The termites ate the filter paper and died within 24 hours. The filter paper maintained its effectiveness for at least three months after the cajeput oil was initially applied.

How to Use: Bug Spray or Bug Diffuser

You can soak mosquito nets in cajeput oils to deter the critters. If you have termites, soak a few pieces of filter paper in cajeput oil and place near their nest or areas of wood damage. Essential oils like cajeput that contain terpineol can be toxic to cats. Avoid using it as a termite repellent if you have pets.

You can also make your own mosquito spray by combining several essential oils in a large spray bottle. The most useful oils for natural bug sprays are lemon of eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, citronella oil, and lavender essential oil. Add 30 drops of each oil to a large spray bottle along with a cup of witch hazel. Shake well and reapply every 90 minutes. You can also add a few drops of these oils to your diffuser to ward of insects when hanging out in the garden or on the front porch.

Cajeput Essential Oil: cotnainer and wooden spoon

Side Effects of Cajeput Essential Oil

Cajeput oil is considered generally safe for use. Always follow proper dosage instructions to avoid negative side effects. AS with most natural products, there are a few things to keep in mind when using cajeput essential oil.

Skin Irritation

Pure cajeput essential oil is nontoxic, but it can cause skin irritation in some individuals. Always test the oil on a small portion of skin before applying liberally. Make sure to wait a few hours between the spot test and your next application to avoid allergic reactions. Never apply cajeput essential oil to the skin without using carrier oil such as rosehip oil. Keep the oil away from sensitive areas including your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Use On Children and In Pregnancy

Cajeput should not be used on children under six years of age. Be careful not to diffuse the oil in areas where young children may be present. There isn’t enough information to ensure cajeput oil is safe during pregnancy. Avoid using cajeput oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Respiratory Problems

Cajeput oil can be irritation to the respiratory system. Only use 1 or 2 drops in a diffuser or blend with other oils to reduce the risk of breathing problems. The inhalation of cajeput oil can trigger asthma attacks in certain individuals. The sharp fragrance of the oil can cause inflammation throughout the respiratory system for asthma sufferers. Don’t use cajeput oil if you or a family member has been diagnosed with any type of asthma.

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