Unusual Oil Of The Month: Kanuka

by Penny Price October 24, 2022 7 min read

Unusual Oil Of The Month: Kanuka

Kanuka Essential Oil is often confused with Manuka Essential Oil - both Manuka and Kanuka belong to the same family of plants (the Myrtaceae family), however they are different in a number of ways.

About Kanuka Essential Oil & The Myrtaceae Family

Firstly, Kanuka oil has a much sweeter scent than Manuka oil, and isn’t as well known or researched. Kanuka Essential Oil has been found to be more effective in treating acne, eczema, stress and anxiety. It is a lighter oil than Manuka oil, with a much higher concentration of alpha-pinene and other monoterpenes, and as a result it takes less time to distil. Most of the plant material used for producing Kanuka oil is harvested by hand.

Other oils from the Myrtaceae family include Tea Tree, Cajeput, Niaouli, Myrtle, Ravansara, Clove and Cinnamon Essential Oils – along with all the Eucalyptus Oils, and as you may have guessed, all these oils are highly antiseptic and antiviral. Other properties from this family include pain relief (analgesia), cooling (febrifuge), warming (to the circulatory system), and antifungal properties. Kanuka is no different and displays all these qualities so can be used in any of the situations where you would use one of the other oils – and it does smell much nicer that Tea Tree, with less risk of allergic reaction.

Because Kanuka Essential Oil is comprised of small, light molecules (top notes) it can penetrate the skin more easily than many other oils in the family, although it is not quite as quick as Eucalyptus Globulus, it is a very close second. Knowing that it penetrates quickly means that you can use it in emergency situations where you need the oil to be in the tissues immediately. One example of this would be for chicken pox, to help catch it early, or for a sudden sprain, for example, to the ankle, where you could apply a compress.

Kanuka The Tree & Obtaining Kanuka Essential Oil

The Latin name of Kanuka Essential Oil is Kunzea ericoides, and it has many synonyms such as Kunzea peduncularis F. Muell., Leptospermum ericoides A. Rich. burgan, kanuka , Kanuka-Oelbaum , tree manuba, tree manuka , white tea tree, white tea tree.

Kanuka Essential Oil is made by distilling leaves and twigs from the Kanuka tree, which is endemic to New Zealand, and is not found anywhere else in the world.

Kanuka is a small bushy tree with pointed leaves on full branches. The leaves are small and aromatic. The flowers are small, white, and 5-petalled (and I think, rather beautiful). When the trees are in flower, the mature specimens are covered in a mass of white blossom, though immature plants can flower less well. The tree can grow in the UK and be fairly hardy, but as Kanuka is indigenous to New Zealand it is more settled there and produces a much better essential oil.

Traditional Uses Of Kanuka Essential Oil

Kanuka Essential Oil was used originally by the Māori people of New Zealand for pain and inflammation relief, especially with skin diseases. Kanuka Essential Oil is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and has a pleasant perfume. Kanuka comes from the Māori language. Māoris and early settlers used Kanuka and its healing properties for fractures, pain, inflammation, and skin diseases. It also helped to promote calmness and a restful sleep. Chewing on young shoots or using the seeds in a drink was used to help to cure dysentery and diarrhoea.

Kanuka Essential Oil Properties

There are many properties of Kanuka Essential Oil, as you would expect from its family history, including being: antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. Useful for muscular pain relief and to relieve swelling, sprains, strains, and sports injuries, Kanuka Essential Oil can help to clear inflammation, spots and boils, and relax the skin.

Kanuka Essential Oil is now used for treating acne, muscle pain and swelling, insect bites, sinusitis, athletes’ foot, candida, chicken pox, cold sores, colds, corns, cuts, itching, migraines, ring worm, warts, urethritis, whooping cough, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia – to name but a few!

Kanuka is a strong oil that acts quickly so we tend to use small doses in children. See the recipe for Chicken Pox further on. The main chemical constituents within the oil are mainly monoterpenes and ketones, including Pinene, Terpinene, Limonene, and Leptospermone.

The Benefits & Uses Of Kanuka Essential Oil

The health properties of Kanuka oil are quite similar to that of Manuka oil. However, Kanuka oil does not contain triketones, and exhibits much higher levels of alpha-pinene. As a result, Kanuka oil is thought to be less effective at destroying gram positive bacteria, and more useful for helping to control fungal infections.

Kanuka can aid the memory as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, as alpha-pinene has been shown to help with improving short term memory. Alpha-pinene is also present in Rosemary Essential Oil. Kanuka is also effective as a bronchial dilator, decreasing resistance in the airways and increasing airflow to the lungs. This is largely due again to the alpha-pinene content. The oil is also an effective insect repellent.

Because of the penetrative qualities of Kanuka Essential Oil, it is wonderful for use in massage. The light molecules can penetrate deep into muscle tissue quickly to offer pain relief for aches and pains, fibromyalgia and sciatica.

Kanuka Essential Oil can, as we have seen, be used for a wide range of purposes, and we are still discovering new ways that it can benefit your health. Here are the more common ways that Kanuka oil tends to be used.

Clearing Blocked Airways With Kanuka Essential Oil

As a bronchodilator, Kanuka Essential Oil is useful for opening up airways and helping with normal breathing. Add 5 drops to a vaporiser to inhale, or mix with 1ml of your favourite carrier oil and rub onto your chest. You can also apply 2 drops of the oil to the elbow crook, so that the oil penetrates to the pulmonary vein going back to the lungs.

Kanuka Essential Oil For Relaxation & Stress Relief

Kanuka oil is used in aromatherapy for its sedating and calming properties. Again, add a few drops to a vaporiser for inhalation, or place 3 drops in the palm of your hands, rub your palms together, cover your nose and mouth and inhale. Alternatively, add 5-10 drops to your evening bath.

Kanuka Essential Oil As An Insect Repellent

Kanuka oil is great for keeping insects away! Just blend 5 drops of Kanuka Essential Oil with 1ml of Sunflower carrier oil and rub into exposed skin.

Kanuka Essential Oil For Athlete’s Foot & Fungal Infections

Kanuka is very effective for ridding the body of areas of fungus and keeping infections at bay. Apply 1-2 drops directly to the affected area twice daily or add 15 drops to a foot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Keep applying the treatment for at least 5 days after signs of infection have subsided.

Immune Support & Deep Cleansing Using Kanuka Essential Oil

Kanuka oil promotes a healthy immune system and is beneficial to use during winter when there are lots of colds, flu and other viruses in the air. Make a body lotion using 15 drops in 50ml of lotion or oil to apply to the neck and chest area twice a day, and again, use in the vaporiser to help to keep the home safe and bug-free.

Keeping Acne At Bay Using Kanuka Essential Oil

add 2-3 drops of Kanuka Essential Oil to 50ml of moisturiser and apply morning and evening for brighter, clearer skin.

I hope that you now have a clearer picture of Kanuka Essential Oil with all its wonderful benefits. Below I have made some recipes for you, so you can survive the winter with good health!

Let’s Make Recipes with Kanuka Essential Oil!
You may like to try some of my recipes as below, and if you do, please do give us feedback on how they worked – we love hearing from you!

Cold Sore Balm

To treat or to help prevent cold sores this winter, use the following recipe:

9ml shea butter
15 drops of Kanuka Essential Oil
4 drops of Geranium Essential Oil
1 drop of Melissa Essential Oil

Melt the shea until it is malleable and add the essential oils. Put into a 10ml jar and leave to cool. Apply throughout the day or when needed to the space above the upper lip (moustache area) and in front of the ears, in the little dip you will find there.

Chicken Pox Buster

You can actually use Kanuka Essential Oil undiluted on a cotton bud, and apply to each pox several times a day. In addition, use this lotion:

98ml Blending Lotion
30 Kanuka Essential Oil
10 drops Ho Essential Oil
10 drops Geranium Essential Oil

Mix thoroughly and put into a 100ml bottle with pump top. Apply regularly throughout the day until health returns.

Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Pain

With chronic inflammatory pain we need to apply our treatment oils and potions little and often. Here is a recipe for a body lotion below:

97ml Blending Lotion
1ml Kanuka Essential Oil
1ml Plai Essential Oil
0.5ml Marjoram Sweet Essential Oil
0.5ml Lavender Essential Oil

Blend everything together and put into a 100ml bottle with pump. Apply to all areas that are painful sparingly, but often throughout the day.

Bath Foam – you can use the above essential oils in a bath foam base so you can relax in the warmth of the water. This is really beneficial, especially if you follow it with the lotion.

Winter Vaporiser

In a 10ml bottle use the following:

3ml Kanuka Essential Oil
2ml Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil
2ml Ho Essential Oil
2ml Pine Essential Oil
1ml Lavender Essential Oil

Use 5-10 drops in a vaporiser for daily use, or put it on a tissue to inhale throughout the day, or on your child’s jacket pocket for school. You can also add to a rollerball (30 drops in 10ml coconut oil) or in a nasal inhaler just to be sure you are all safe!

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. We love to hear from you so do give us feedback on the blog and the recipes, and how they have worked for you or your clients. All the products mentioned are available from our website or you can phone your order through or get advice on 01455 251020. If you are interested in training with us, please call, or email Lizzie on courses@penny-price.com. Have a wonderful November! Thank You X

Penny Price
Penny Price

1 Response

Anne Polet
Anne Polet

November 06, 2022

Fabulous blog on Kanuka, I discovered this oil a while back and it’s been part of my client kit for chronic pain management – along with plai, Tumeric, black pepper, sweet marjoram –
Also will try for cold sores in winter as currently use Melissa, bergamot and tea tree – but Kanuka smells much nicer certainly to me
I haven’t used it much respiratory wise – so I’m going to try this too 🌸🌺

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