Tea Tree Oil

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Tea Tree Oil

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:24 am

Tea Tree Oil

Lymphedema People



Recently in several groups, there has been discussion about a topical ointment called tea tree oil, so I thought that perhaps an info page on it might be useful.

It is not used to treat lymhpedema and has absolutely no value at all for that. It IS used though as an antbacterial agent on the skin

**** Please note: The information contained on this page is NOT an endorsement for the product, it is for information only. ****


What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is the essential oil steam distilled from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia. It has also been known as melaleuca oil. The M. alternifolia species is unique to Australia and native to Northern New South Wales. Tea tree oil contains over 100 components, mostly monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and their alcohols. The component terpinen-4-ol is the most abundant (minimum 30%) and is said to be responsible for most of the antimicrobial activity. Levels of 14 components, including terpinen-4-ol are stipulated in the International Standard for Oil of Melaleuca, Terpinen-4-ol type (ISO 4730).



Tea Tree Oil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tea tree oil is an yellowish green-tinged essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odour. It is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia which is native to the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. The oil is claimed to have beneficial cosmetic and medical properties (including antiseptic and antifungal action).

The term "tea tree oil" is somewhat of a misnomer since Melaleuca alternifolia is a paperbark rather than a tea tree (genus Leptospermum). Tea tree oil should also not be confused with tea oil, the sweetish seasoning and cooking oil from pressed seeds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis or the tea oil plant Camellia oleifera.

History and extraction

Australian Aborigines have used oil extracted from the tree's needles for hundreds of years. Currently, tea tree oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves. Of the over 100 compounds contained in the oil, terpinen-4-ol is responsible for most of the antimicrobial actions.

Although tea tree oil is normally extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia commercially, it can also be extracted from Melaleuca dissitiflora and Melaleuca linariifolia. Tea tree oil is defined by international standard ISO 4730 ("Oil of Melaleuca, Terpinen-4-ol type"), which specifies levels of 14 components which are needed to define the oil as "tea tree oil."

Medicinal Usage

Tea tree oil has been recognized as a potent antiseptic in Australia anecdotally for much longer than there has been solid scientific evidence. However, studies have recently been conducted which support the role of tea tree oil in skin care and the treatment of various ailments.

Antifungal properties

Tea tree oil is a known antifungal agent, effective in vitro against multiple dermatophytes found on the skin. In vivo, shampoo with 5% tea tree oil has been shown to be an effective treatment for dandruff due to malassezia furfur, the most common cause of dandruff, being a fungi. [1] [2]

Candida is a genus of yeast responsible for yeast infections in humans, otherwise known as Candidiasis. Tea tree oil has been shown to act as an anticandidal agent in vitro, leading some to suggest that tea tree oil could be effective in humans as a topical treatment against candidiasis.[3]

Antiseptic properties

In the treatment of moderate acne, topical application of 5% tea tree oil has shown a significant effect comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide with less observed side effects; although, it does display a slower onset of action. [4]

Tea-tree oil is also effective for treating bug bites, scrapes, cuts, boils, and other minor wounds. It appears to have less of a stinging sensation than other antiseptics.


Tea tree oil is used almost exclusively externally. A patch test is advisable before using items containing tea tree oil because in high concentrations tea tree oil can cause irritation and some individuals may experience hypersensitivity since it can be allergenic.

Tea tree oil is toxic if taken in higher doses. [5] Data on oral tea tree oil toxicity in humans are sparse aside from several anecdotal reports of toxic effects following oral ingestion [6][7][8]. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea and disorientation. The use of tea tree oil in oral products like toothpaste is considered safe as long as the tea tree oil is not ingested and it is not accessible to small children.

According to a July 4, 2006 article [1] in the Washington Post, "A preliminary finding presented at the Endocrine Society's conference last month . . . suggests that shampoos, soaps and body lotions containing . . . tea tree oils may cause hormonal imbalances and breast growth in young boys."


^ Nenoff P, Haustein UF, Brandt W (1996). "Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against pathogenic fungi in vitro". Skin Pharmacol. 9 (6): 388-94. PMID 9055360.
^ Satchell AC, Saurajen A, Bell C, Barnetson RS (2002). "Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo". J Am Acad Dermatol. 47 (6): 852-5. PMID 12451368.
^ Hammer K, Carson C, Riley T (1998). "In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida spp.". J Antimicrob Chemother 42 (5): 591-5. PMID 9848442.
^ Bassett I, Pannowitz D, Barnetson R (1990). "A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne.". Med J Aust 153 (8): 455-8. PMID 2145499.
^ Hammer K, Carson C, Riley T, Nielsen J (2006). "A review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil.". Food Chem Toxicol 44 (5): 616-25. PMID 16243420.
^ Del Beccaro M (1995). "Melaleuca oil poisoning in a 17-month-old.". Vet Hum Toxicol 37 (6): 557-8. PMID 8588296.
^ Jacobs M, Hornfeldt C (1994). "Melaleuca oil poisoning.". J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 32 (4): 461-4. PMID 8057407.
^ Morris M, Donoghue A, Markowitz J, Osterhoudt K (2003). "Ingestion of tea tree oil (Melaleuca oil) by a 4-year-old boy.". Pediatr Emerg Care 19 (3): 169-71. PMID 12813303


Clinical Studies


Susceptibility of pseudomonads to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and components.

May 2006

Papadopoulos CJ, Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV.

Microbiology and Immunology Discipline, School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia.

OBJECTIVES: Thirty isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 15 isolates of Pseudomonas putida and 11 isolates of Pseudomonas fluorescens were tested for susceptibility to tea tree oil (TTO), the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia, and the components terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, cineole, gamma-terpinene and rho-cymene.

METHODS: MICs were determined by broth microdilution in Mueller-Hinton medium supplemented with 0.002% (v/v) Tween 80.

RESULTS: The MIC90 of TTO for all isolates tested was 4% (v/v) or less. Susceptibility to components tested varied between species.

CONCLUSIONS: Pseudomonas spp. are susceptible to TTO and some of its components although they are less susceptible than many other bacteria tested previously.

PMID: 16735435 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum


Natural oils affect the human skin integrity and the percutaneous penetration of benzoic acid dose-dependently.

June 2006

Nielsen JB.

Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark. jbnielsen@health.sdu.dk

Natural oils are extensively used in cosmetics and as treatment for a growing number of more or less specific ailments. Skin irritation and cases of allergy have repeatedly been described in the literature following exposure to these oils. The present study evaluated the extent to which three natural oils (eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, peppermint oil) would affect the skin integrity and the percutaneous penetration of benzoic acid when applied topically in relevant concentrations. An experimental in vitro model using static diffusion cells mounted with human breast or abdominal skin was applied. The three natural oils decreased the skin integrity dose-dependently. Concomitant dermal exposure to low concentrations of peppermint oil reduced the percutaneous penetration of benzoic acid. The present study lends support to the notion that low concentrations of peppermint oil may act protective against percutaneous penetration of some chemicals, whereas higher concentrations may decrease the integrity of the dermal barrier.

PMID: 16700820 [PubMed - in process]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum


Antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils.

June 2006

Schelz Z, Molnar J, Hohmann J.

Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunobiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Szeged H-6720, Szeged, Dom ter 10, Hungary.

The antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils (orange oil, eucalyptus oil, fennel oil, geranium oil, juniper oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, purified turpentine oil, thyme oil, Australian tea tree oil) and of menthol, the main component of peppermint oil, were investigated. The antimicrobial activities were determined on the Gram (+) Staphylococcus epidermidis and the Gram (-) Escherichia coli F'lac K12 LE140, and on two yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae 0425 delta/1 and 0425 52C strains. The antiplasmid activities were investigated on E. coli F'lac bacterial strain. Each of the oils exhibited antimicrobial activity and three of them antiplasmid action. The interaction of peppermint oil and menthol with the antibiotics was studied on the same bacterial strain with the checkerboard method. Peppermint oil and menthol displayed additive synergy with oxytetracycline. A new mechanism of plasmid curing was established for one of the oil components.

PMID: 16690225 [PubMed - in process]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum


Susceptibility to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil of yeasts isolated from the mouths of patients with advanced cancer.

May 2006

Bagg J, Jackson MS, Petrina Sweeney M, Ramage G, Davies AN.

University of Glasgow Dental School, UK. j.bagg@dental.gla.ac.uk

Yeasts that are resistant to azole antifungal drugs are increasingly isolated from the mouths of cancer patients suffering from oral fungal infections. Tea tree oil is an agent possessing antimicrobial properties that may prove useful in the prevention and management of infections caused by these organisms. In this study, 301 yeasts isolated from the mouths of 199 patients suffering from advanced cancer were examined by an in vitro agar dilution assay for susceptibility to tea tree oil. All of the isolates tested were susceptible, including 41 that were known to be resistant to both fluconazole and itraconazole. Clinical studies of tea tree oil as an agent for the prevention and treatment of oral fungal infections in immunocompromised patients merit consideration.

PMID: 16488180 [PubMed - in process]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum


Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.

Jan 2006

Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV.

Microbiology and Immunology (M502), School of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia.

Complementary and alternative medicines such as tea tree (melaleuca) oil have become increasingly popular in recent decades. This essential oil has been used for almost 100 years in Australia but is now available worldwide both as neat oil and as an active component in an array of products. The primary uses of tea tree oil have historically capitalized on the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions of the oil. This review summarizes recent developments in our understanding of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities of the oil and its components, as well as clinical efficacy. Specific mechanisms of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory action are reviewed, and the toxicity of the oil is briefly discussed.

Publication Types:

PMID: 16418522 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum


A review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil.

May 2006

Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV, Nielsen JB.

Microbiology and Immunology (M502), School of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. khammer@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

The essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia, also known as tea tree or melaleuca oil, is widely available and has been investigated as an alternative antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent. While these properties are increasingly well characterised, relatively limited data are available on the safety and toxicity of the oil. Anecdotal evidence from almost 80 years of use suggests that the topical use of the oil is relatively safe, and that adverse events are minor, self-limiting and occasional. Published data indicate that TTO is toxic if ingested in higher doses and can also cause skin irritation at higher concentrations. Allergic reactions to TTO occur in predisposed individuals and may be due to the various oxidation products that are formed by exposure of the oil to light and/or air. Adverse reactions may be minimised by avoiding ingestion, applying only diluted oil topically and using oil that has been stored correctly. Data from individual components suggest that TTO has the potential to be developmentally toxic if ingested at higher doses, however, TTO and its components are not genotoxic. The limited ecotoxicity data available indicate that TTO is toxic to some insect species but more studies are required.

Publication Types:

PMID: 16243420 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/quer ... med_docsum

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