Tea tree oil, used for centuries by Australian natives, has been popular in the health supplement industry for many years and gradually becoming known by mainstream Americans. Tea tree oil has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity. See nail fungus for a natural treatment for this difficult condition.
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Tea Tree oil use and potential benefits
Tea tree oil has been tested in various skin and medical conditions including acne pimples, dermatitis, gingivitis, pediculosis (lice), dandruff, genital warts, and tinea pedis (athlete's foot). There is good research to suggest tea tree oil is beneficial in athlete's foot, and I have listed some of this research below.
Tea tree oil is an effective antiseptic, but is even better when mixed with silver. Researchers at England's University of Wolverhampton looked at putting tea tree oils or silver nitrate into liposomes. These microscopic spheres are made of phosolipids -- fats -- that occur naturally in cell walls' membranes. The liposomes greatly increased antimicrobial activity. Using liposomes allows controlled release, which lowers the concentrations of the agents needed to treat infected wounds, and could minimize any side effects. The discoveries were presented at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate, England, by researchers Wan Li Low and colleagues. Both the tea tree oils and the silver -- in the form of silver nitrate -- each effectively fight pathogens involved in skin infections in laboratory tests. However, both became even more effective in lower concentrations -- when combined.
In vitro and in vivo activity of Melaleuca alternifolia mixed with tissue conditioner on Candida albicans.
Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2008. Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile.
The aim of this study was to identify in vitro and in vivo activity of Melaleuca alternifolia oil mixed with different tissue conditioners on the Candida albicans strain. SMicrobiological tests were used to isolate Candida albicans from patients with denture stomatitis. The in vitro antifungal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia against Candida albicans was determined when it was applied directly and when it was mixed with tissue conditioners (Fitt, Lynal, Coe-Comfort). The responses of 27 denture stomatitis patients treated with Melaleuca alternifolia mixed with Coe-Comfort (n = 9), Nystatin mixed with Coe-Comfort (n = 9), and Coe-Comfort (Control Group, n = 9), were evaluated over a period of 12 days. In the in vitro study, Coe-Comfort or Fitt conditioners mixed with 1 mL, 20% (vol/vol) of Melaleuca alternifolia oil exhibited a total inhibition of Candida albicans. Patients treated with M. alternifolia mixed with Coe-Comfort showed a significant decrease in palatal inflammation compared with those treated with Coe Comfort. In addition, a significant inhibition of C. albicans growth was observed with M. alternifolia mixed with Coe-Comfort compared with only Coe-Comfort. Tea tree oil mixed with Coe-Comfort tissue conditioner is effective in treating denture stomatitis.
Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia).
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2008. Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.
Tea tree oil (TTO) (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been used recently as an effective topical application for the treatment of skin infections due to a variety of aetiological microbial agents, including mainly bacterial infections. We detail the first report in the peer-reviewed literature of the successful treatment with TTO of a paediatric patient with warts on her right middle finger. TTO was applied topically once daily to the lesions for 12 days, with a successful outcome, including complete re-epithelization of the infected areas. The case highlights the potential use of TTO in the treatment of common warts due to human papilloma virus.
Common forms of tea tree oil products are cream and shampoo.
Tea Tree Oil Research
Tea tree oil concentration in follicular casts after topical delivery: Determination by high-performance thin layer chromatography using a perfused bovine udder model.
J Pharm Sci. 2005.
Tea tree oil, a popular antimicrobial agent is recommended for the treatment of acne vulgaris, a disease of the pilosebaceous unit. Tea tree oil formulations (colloidal bed, microemulsion, multiple emulsion, and liposomal dispersion containing 5% w/w tea tree oil) were applied to bovine udder skin. The follicular uptake of tea tree oil upon application was determined by a cyanoacrylate method. Tea tree oil was determined by quantifying terpinen-4-ol content using high-performance thin layer chromatography. The accumulation of tea tree oil in the follicular casts was 0.43, 0.41, 0.21, and 0.16 percentage by weight (milligram oil/gram of sebum plug) for microemulsion, liposomal dispersion, multiple emulsion, and colloidal bed, respectively. This is the first study of its kind to quantify tea tree oil concentration in the follicles.
Topical tea tree oil effective in canine localised pruritic dermatitis--a
multi-centre randomised double-blind controlled clinical trial in the veterinary
Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2004.
Tea tree oil, a volatile oil, is well known for its broad antibacterial and antifungal activity. A standardised and stabilised 10% tea tree oil cream was tested against a commercial skin care cream (control cream) in the management of canine localised acute and chronic dermatitis. Fifty-seven dogs with clinical manifestations of mostly pruritic skin lesions or alterations, skin fold pyodermas and other forms of dermatitis, corroborated by predominantly positive fungal and bacterial skin isolates, were enrolled by seven practising veterinarians and randomly allocated to two study groups and were treated twice daily with a blinded topical preparation. After 10 days of treatment, success rates of 71% for the tea tree oil cream and 41% for the control cream (over-all efficacy documented by the veterinary investigator) differed significantly, favouring tea tree oil cream treatment. Accordingly on day 10, the tea tree oil cream caused significantly faster relief than the control cream for two common clinical dermatitis signs, pruritus (occurring in 84 % of dogs) and alopecia. Only one adverse event was reported in the tea tree oil group (suspected not to be causally related to the study drug) and none in the control cream group. The tested herbal cream appears to be a fast-acting safe alternative to conventional therapy for symptomatic treatment of canine localised dermatitis with pruritis.
The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
using a dressing model.
Patchouli, tea tree, geranium, lavender essential oils and Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) were used singly and in combination to assess their anti-bacterial activity against three strains of Staphylococcus aureus: Oxford S. aureus NCTC 6571 (Oxford strain), Epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus (EMRSA 15) and MRSA (untypable). The individual essential oils, extracts and combinations were impregnated into filter paper discs and placed on the surface of agar plates, pre-seeded with the appropriate strain of Staphylococcus. The effects of the vapours of the oils and oil combinations were also assessed using impregnated filter paper discs that were placed on the underside of the Petri dish lid at a distance of 8mm from the bacteria. The most inhibitory combinations of oils for each strain were used in a dressing model constructed using a four layers of dressings: the primary layer consisted of either Jelonet or TelfaClear with or without Flamazine; the second was a layer of gauze, the third a layer of Gamgee and the final layer was Crepe bandage. The oil combinations were placed in either the gauze or the Gamgee layer. This four-layered dressing was placed over the seeded agar plate, incubated for 24h at 37 degrees C and the zones of inhibition measured. All experiments were repeated on three separate occasions. No anti-bacterial effects were observed when Flamazine was smeared on the gauze in the dressing model. When Telfaclear was used as the primary layer in the dressing model compared to Jelonet, greater zones of inhibition were observed. A combination of Citricidal and geranium oil showed the greatest-anti-bacterial effects against MRSA, whilst a combination of geranium and tea tree oil was most active against the methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (Oxford strain). This study demonstrates the potential of essential oils and essential oil vapours as antibacterial agents and for use in the treatment of MRSA infection. tea tree oil use tea tree oil acne tea tree oil shampoo.
Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising
Am J Infect Control. 2004.
Halcon L, Milkus K. School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to be a major health concern worldwide. In particular, Staphylococcus aureus, both methicillin-resistant and -sensitive, are of concern in their ability to cause difficult skin and underlying tissue infections. Melaleuca alternifolia oil (tea tree oil), an essential oil, has demonstrated promising efficacy in treating these infections. Tea tree oil has been used for centuries as a botanical medicine, and has only in recent decades surfaced in the scientific literature as a promising adjunctive wound treatment. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and has demonstrated ability to activate monocytes. There are few apparent side effects to using tea tree oil topically in low concentrations, with contact dermatitis being the most common. Tea tree oil has been effective as an adjunctive therapy in treating osteomyelitis and infected chronic wounds in case studies and small clinical trials. There is a need for larger clinical trials to further examine efficacy of tea tree oil as an adjunctive wound therapy, as well as improved guidelines for developing plant-based medicines. benefit of tea tree oil tea tree oil and genital wart tea tree oil product.
Tea tree oil: cutaneous effects of the extracted oil of Melaleuca
Dermatitis. 2004 Jun;15(2):59-66.
Crawford GH, Sciacca JR, James WD. Department of Dermatology and the Clinical Services and Residency Program, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA
The use of botanical extracts for their perceived therapeutic benefits has gained increased popularity in this country and abroad. In particular, tea tree oil (the extracted oil of Melaleuca alternifolia) has gained widespread use for its purported antimicrobial and therapeutic effects. In parallel with this increased use is an expanding series of reported adverse effects, including allergic contact dermatitis, systemic contact dermatitis, linear immunoglobulin A disease, erythema multiforme-like id reactions, and systemic hypersensitivity reactions. We present a review of tea tree oil with regard to its history, chemistry, purported medicinal uses, and possible adverse cutaneous effects. tea tree oil for head louse tea tree oil for louse tea tree oil nail fungus.
The effects of a tea tree oil-containing gel on plaque and chronic
Aust Dent J. 2004.
This clinical study assessed the effects of topically applied tea tree oil -containing gel on dental plaque and chronic gingivitis. This was a double-blind, longitudinal, non-crossover study in 49 medically fit non-smokers (24 males and 25 females) aged 18-60 years with severe chronic gingivitis. Subjects were randomly assigned to three groups and given either tea tree oil -gel (2.5 per cent), chlorhexidine (CHX) gel (0.2 per cent), or a placebo gel to apply with a toothbrush twice daily. Treatment effects were assessed using the Gingival Index (GI), Papillary Bleeding Index (PBI) and plaque staining score (PSS) at four and eight weeks. No adverse reactions to any of the gels were reported. The data were separated into subsets by tooth (anterior and posterior) and tooth surface (buccal and lingual). The tea tree oil group had significant reduction in PBI and GI scores. However, tea tree oil did not reduce plaque scores, which tended to increase over the latter weeks of the study period. Although further studies are required, the anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil -containing gel applied topically to inflamed gingival tissues may prove to be a useful non-toxic adjunct to chemotherapeutic periodontal therapy.
Antifungal effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its
components on Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004.
The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism of action of tea tree oil and its components against Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast cells were treated with tea tree oil or components, at one or more concentrations, for up to 6 h. During this time, alterations in permeability were assessed by measuring the leakage of 260 nm absorbing materials and by the uptake of Methylene Blue dye. Membrane fluidity was measured by 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene fluorescence. The effects of tea tree oil on glucose-induced medium acidification were quantified by measuring the pH of cell suspensions in the presence of both tea tree oil and glucose. The treatment of C. albicans with tea tree oil and components at concentrations of between 0.25 and 1.0% (v/v) altered both permeability and membrane fluidity. Membrane fluidity was also increased when C. albicans was cultured for 24 h with tea tree oil, as compared with control cells. For all three organisms, glucose-induced acidification of the external medium was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner in the presence of 0.2%, 0.3% and 0.4% tea tree oil. Data from this study support the hypothesis that tea tree oil and components exert their antifungal actions by altering membrane properties and compromising membrane-associated functions.
Herbal medicines for treatment of fungal infections: a systematic review of
controlled clinical trials.
Traditional medicine has made use of many different plant extracts for treatment of fungal infections and some of these have been tested for in vitro antifungal activity. This systematic review evaluates antifungal herbal preparations that have been tested in controlled clinical trials. Four electronic databases were searched for controlled clinical trials of antifungal herbal medicines. Data were extracted in a standardized manner by two independent reviewers and are reviewed narratively. Seven clinical trials met our inclusion criteria. Tea tree oil preparations were tested in four randomized clinical trials and some positive outcomes were attributed to the intervention in all trials. Solanum species (two trials) and oil of bitter orange preparations (one trial) were compared with conventional treatments. In all cases encouraging results were reported. There are few controlled clinical trials of herbal antifungal medicines. The most thoroughly clinically tested is tea tree oil, which holds some promise. All herbal remedies require further investigation in rigorous clinical trials.
A randomized, controlled trial of tea tree topical preparations versus a
standard topical regimen for the clearance of MRSA colonization.
J Hosp Infect. 2004.
Two topical MRSA eradication regimes were compared in hospital patients: a standard treatment included mupirocin 2% nasal ointment, chlorhexidine gluconate 4% soap, silver sulfadiazine 1% cream versus a tea tree oil regimen, which included tea tree 10% cream, tea tree 5% body wash, both given for five days. One hundred and fourteen patients received standard treatment and 56 (49%) were cleared of MRSA carriage. One hundred and ten received tea tree oil regimen and 46 (41%) were cleared. There was no significant difference between treatment regimens. Mupirocin was significantly more effective at clearing nasal carriage (78%) than tea tree cream (47%) but tea tree treatment was more effective than chlorhexidine or silver sulfadiazine at clearing superficial skin sites and skin lesions. The tea tree preparations were effective, safe and well tolerated and could be considered in regimens for eradication of MRSA carriage.
Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase by Tea Tree oil.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004.
Pediculosis is a widespread condition reported in schoolchildren. Treatment most commonly involves the physical removal of nits using fine-toothcombs and the chemical treatment of adult lice and eggs with topical preparations. The active constituents of these preparations frequently exert their effects through inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. Increasing resistance to many preparations has led to the search for more effective treatments. Tea Tree oil, otherwise known as Melaleuca oil, has been added to several preparations as an alternative treatment of head lice infestations. In this study two major constituents of Tea Tree oil, 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol, were shown to inhibit acetylcholinesterase at IC50 values (inhibitor concentrations required to give 50% inhibition) of 0.04 and 10.30 mM, respectively. Four samples of Tea Tree oil tested (Tisserand, Body Treats, Main Camp and Irish Health Culture Association Pure Undiluted) showed anticholinesterase activity at IC50 values of 0.05, 0.10, 0.08 and 0.11 microL mL(-1), respectively. The results supported the hypothesis that the insecticidal activity of Tea Tree oil was attributable, in part, to the anticholinesterase activity of Tea Tree oil.
Terpinen-4-ol, the main component of Melaleuca alternifolia ( tea tree oil
inhibits the in vitro growth of human melanoma cells.
J Invest Dermatol. 2004.
The search for innovative therapeutic approaches based on the use of new substances is gaining more interest in clinical oncology. In this in vitro study the potential anti-tumoral activity of tea tree oil, distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia, was analyzed against human melanoma M14 WT cells and their drug-resistant counterparts, M14 adriamicin-resistant cells. Both sensitive and resistant cells were grown in the presence of tea tree oil at concentrations ranging from 0.005 to 0.03%. Both the complex oil (tea tree oil) and its main active component terpinen-4-ol were able to induce caspase-dependent apoptosis of melanoma cells and this effect was more evident in the resistant variant cell population. Freeze-fracturing and scanning electron microscopy analyses suggested that the effect of the crude oil and of the terpinen-4-ol was mediated by their interaction with plasma membrane and subsequent reorganization of membrane lipids. In conclusion, tea tree oil and terpinen-4-ol are able to impair the growth of human M14 melanoma cells and appear to be more effective on their resistant variants, which express high levels of P-glycoprotein in the plasma membrane, overcoming resistance to caspase-dependent apoptosis exerted by P-glycoprotein-positive tumor cells.
Antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree)
J Appl Microbiol. 2003.
To investigate the in vitro antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia ( tea tree oil. Activity was investigated by broth microdilution and macrodilution, and time kill methods. Components showing the most activity, with minimum inhibitory concentrations and minimum fungicidal concentrations of < or =0.25%, were terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, linalool, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, followed by 1,8-cineole. The remaining components showed slightly less activity and had values ranging from 0.5 to 2%, with the exception of beta-myrcene which showed no detectable activity. Susceptibility data generated for several of the least water-soluble components were two or more dilutions lower by macrodilution, compared with microdilution. All tea tree oil components, except beta-myrcene, had antifungal activity. The lack of activity reported for some components by microdilution may be due to these components becoming absorbed into the polystyrene of the microtitre tray. This indicates that plastics are unsuitable as assay vessels for tests with these or similar components. This study has identified that most components of tea tree oil have activity against a range of fungi. However, the measurement of antifungal activity may be significantly influenced by the test method.
Antimycotic activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil and its major
Lett Appl Microbiol. 2003.
The aim of this study was to analyse the antimycotic properties of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil ( tea tree oil ) and its principal components and to compare them with the activity of 5-fluorocytosine and amphotericin B. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of the organisms were sensitive to the essential oil, with tea tree oil and terpinen-4-olo being the most active oils showing antifungal activity at minimum inhibitory concentration values lower than other drugs. This study provides a sample large enough to determine the antifungal properties of tea tree oil and terpinen-4-olo and suggests further studies for a possible therapeutic use.
Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002.
Dandruff appears to be related to the yeast Pityrosporum ovale. Tea tree oil has antifungal properties with activity against P ovale and may be useful in the treatment of dandruff. We conducted a randomized, single-blind, parallel-group study to investigate the efficacy and tolerability of 5% tea tree oil and placebo in patients with mild to moderate dandruff. One hundred twenty-six male and female patients, aged 14 years and older, were randomly assigned to receive either 5% tea tree oil shampoo or placebo, which was used daily for 4 weeks. The dandruff was scored on a quadrant-area-severity scale and by patient self-assessment scores of scaliness, itchiness, and greasiness. The 5% tea tree oil shampoo group showed a 41% improvement in the quadrant-area-severity score compared with 11% in the placebo group. Statistically significant improvements were also observed in the total area of involvement score, the total severity score, and the itchiness and greasiness components of the patients' self-assessments. The scaliness component of patient self-assessment improved but was not statistically significant. There were no adverse effects. Five percent tea tree oil appears to effective and well tolerated in the treatment of dandruff.
Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution:
a randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study.
Australas J Dermatol. 2002.
Tea tree oil has been shown to have activity against dermatophytes in vitro. We have conducted a randomized, controlled, double-blinded study to determine the efficacy and safety of 25% and 50% tea tree oil in the treatment of interdigital tinea pedis. One hundred and fifty-eight patients with tinea pedis clinically and microscopy suggestive of a dermatophyte infection were randomized to receive either placebo, 25% or 50% tea tree oil solution. Patients applied the solution twice daily to affected areas for 4 weeks and were reviewed after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment. There was a marked clinical response seen in 68% of the 50% tea tree oil group and 72% of the 25% tea tree oil group, compared to 39% in the placebo group. Mycological cure was assessed by culture of skin scrapings taken at baseline and after 4 weeks of treatment. The mycological cure rate was 64% in the 50% tea tree oil group, compared to 31% in the placebo group. Four (3.8%) patients applying tea tree oil developed moderate to severe dermatitis that improved quickly on stopping the study medication.
In vitro activity of tea tree oil against Candida albicans mycelial
conversion and other pathogenic fungi.
J Chemother. 2001 Aug;13(4):377-83.
The antifungal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia Maiden against yeasts (Candida spp., Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Debaryomyces hansenii) and dermatophytes (Microsporum spp. and Tricophyton spp.) is reported. We focused on the ability of tea tree oil to inhibit Candida albicans conversion from the yeast to the pathogenic mycelial form. These results, if considered along with the lipophilic nature of the tea tree oil which enables it to penetrate the skin, suggest it may be suitable for topical therapeutic use in the treatment of fungal mucosal and cutaneous infections.
Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and
eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture.
The antiviral effect of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil (EUO) against herpes simplex virus was examined. Cytotoxicity of tea tree oil and EUO was evaluated in a standard neutral red dye uptake assay. Toxicity of tea tree oil and EUO was moderate for RC-37 cells and approached 50% (TC50) at concentrations of 0.006% and 0.03%, respectively. These results indicate that tea tree oil and EUO affect the virus before or during adsorption, but not after penetration into the host cell. Thus tea tree oil and EUO are capable to exert a direct antiviral effect on herpes simplex virus. Although the active antiherpes components of Australian tea tree and eucalyptus oil are not yet known, their possible application as antiviral agents in recurrent herpes infection is promising.
Allergic contact dermatitis to tea tree oil with
erythema multiforme-like id reaction.
Am J Contact Dermat. 2000.
Division of Dermatology, McGill University Health Center, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The commercial production of tea tree oil, extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel, has considerably increased over the past 15 years in response to a strong demand for natural remedies and aromatic substances. The number of case reports that describe allergic contact dermatitis to this essential oil is also on the rise. We report an additional case of allergic contact dermatitis to tea tree oil that presented with an extensive erythema multiforme -like reaction. The patient was treated with systemic and topical corticosteroids. Five months later, he was patch tested to the North American standard series, to his own tea tree oil, to a fresh batch of tea tree oil, and to some related allergens. The skin biopsy showed a spongiotic dermatitis without histological features of erythema multiforme. Patch testing elicited a 3+ reaction to old, oxidized tea tree oil, a 2+ reaction to fresh tea tree oil, a 2+ reaction to colophony, a 1+ reaction to abitol, and a 1+ reaction to balsam of Peru. We believe this is the first report of erythema multiforme-like reaction secondary to allergic contact dermatitis from tea tree oil. Other interesting features are the stronger reaction to oxidized than to fresh tea tree oil, and concomitant reactivity to colophony, abitol, and balsam of Peru.
Q. I am on the quest to better my skin. I have acne problem and for many years I have tried numerous products that have not improved my skin. I have found your article on benefits of tea tree oil. I would like to buy 5 % tea tree oil which shows to be the most beneficial in regulating acne. I am interested if you know where I can buy 5 % concentrated tea tree oil. It seem that most tea tree oils on the market have less % in them.
A. We have not looked into in detail the various tea tree oil concentrates and which is better, we don't have much experience with tea tree oil and acne treatment.
Q. I would like to share the following information via healing with a natural product. I had developed a wart under my left arm pit and it use to be itchy at times, and as I like to use natural supplements, creams, oils for healing; I started to apply Nelson's Tea tree oil cream on the wart both day and night for about two weeks and slowly the wart turned brown at first, then black, shriveled up and just dropped off! This information may help other people who have warts. That is why I am sharing it with you and your research staff. Thanking you all for your informative website on healing with natural products.
I am very interested in your use of Tea Tree
Products as anti-bacteria and anti-fungus prevention. I have read fully through
the literature you provided about all the different kinds of benefits that Tea
Tree Oils provide but failed to find any scientific research or studies to back
up most of the claims. I have read that there were some studies conducted by
universities and other clinical trials were performed. My question is has there
been any study groups, scientific research, or clinical trials that have been
conducted in the Continental U.S.? If You could provide as much information as
possible on the subject that would be much appreciated.
This page is updated regularly with new published research studies.
Tea tree oil products
Now Foods, Tea Tree Oil, 4 fl oz (118 ml)