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Tea Tree Oil

Plant Part Used

Volatile oil

Introduction

The tea tree is native to only one area of the world, the northeast coastal region of New South Wales, Australia. The leaves of tea tree were used by the early settlers of Australia to make tea, hence the name "tea tree." During World War II, tea tree oil was routinely incorporated into machine "cutting" oils in Australian ammunition factories, where it was said to have reduced the number of infections resulting from abrasions caused by metal filings on the hands of workers.

Today, tea tree oil is used as a topical disinfectant and antiseptic for burns and cuts. It can also be used as an oral antiseptic rinse. Tea tree oil has been studied for its possible benefit in a number of other topical, oral and gynecological applications.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Topically: Apply topical oil product to infected areas as needed. Tea tree oil may be incorporated into an ointment product. Vaginal use may require a suppository product.

Oral: Dilute 5-10 drops of undiluted oil in cup of water, gargle, and spit out.

Most Common Dosage

Topically: Apply topical oil product to infected areas as needed. Tea tree oil may be incorporated into an ointment product. Vaginal use may require a suppository product.

Oral: Dilute 5-10 drops of undiluted oil in cup of water, gargle, and spit out.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The Australian standard (AS 2782-1985) for "Oil of Melaleuca (Terpinen-4-ol type)" sets a minimum content of terpinen-4-ol at 30% and a maximum 1,8-cineol content of 15%. (1)

Reported Uses

The therapeutic use of tea tree oil is largely based on its antiseptic and antifungal properties. Studies have looked at tea tree oil’s effectiveness against a wide range of organisms including those that can cause staph infections, vaginal infections and strep throat. (2) , (3) , (4) Other studies have reported that tea tree oil may even be effective against resistant Staphylococcus aureus, often found in hospitals that is usually not treatable with most medicines. (5) , (6) , (7)

In addition to fighting fungus infections, like Candida (or yeast), (8) tea tree oil may also help ward off the fungus that cause athlete’s foot. (9) What’s more, studies suggest that the remedy may be effective against a variety of nail fungi that can lead to nail disease. (10) Tea tree oil has also been researched for its use in treating acne. (11)

Tea tree oil may have specific applications in treating vaginal bacterial infections. The remedy has been researched for its ability to fight a wide assortment of invaders, including those that can lead to yeast infections. (12) , (13)

A special gel containing tea tree oil has increased the rate of wound healing associated with partial thickness burns when it is applied following repeated tap water. (14)

Tea tree oil is also being studied in animals and in the laboratory for ear infections and inflammation. (15) , (16)

 

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

For External Use Only. Toxicity has developed with internal use of tea tree oil when accidentally ingested by young children. (17) , (18) Supportive care for volatile oil poisoning is necessary - do NOT induce vomiting. Contact a poison control center or a healthcare professional immediately if ingested.

Allergy

Some sensitive individuals experience an allergic skin reaction when applying this supplement to the skin. (19) , (20) , (21) Test the product on a small area of the skin for sensitivity prior to use. Discontinue use of this product if a rash or skin sensitivity develops. Call your doctor or seek medical attention if you have fast or irregular breathing, skin rash, hives or itching.

Side Effects

Although tea tree oil shows promise in treating certain types of ear infections, it may also be toxic to certain parts of the ear leading to hearing damage. (22)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

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 1) Cultivation

 2) Safety

 3) Essential Oil

References

  1. Altman PM. Australian tea tree oil. Australian J Pharmacy. 1988;69:276-78.
  2. View Abstract: Mann CM, et al. The outer membrane of pseudomonas aeruginosa NCTC 6749 contributes to its tolerance to the essential oil of melaleuca alternifolia. Lett Appl Microbiol. Apr2000;30(4):294-7.
  3. Carson CF, et al. Efficacy and safety of tea tree oil as a topical antimicrobial agent. J Hosp Infect. Nov1998;40(3):175-8.
  4. View Abstract: Concha JM, Moore LS, Holloway WJ. 1998 William J. Stickel Bronze Award. Antifungal Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea-tree) Oil Against Various Pathogenic Organisms. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. Oct1998;88(10):489-92.
  5. View Abstract: Carson CF, et al. Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J Antimicrob Chemother. Mar1995;35(3):421-4.
  6. View Abstract: Caelli M, Porteous J, Carson CF, et al. Tea Tree Oil as an Alternative Topical Decolonization Agent for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Hosp Infect. Nov2000;46(3):236-7.
  7. View Abstract: Dryden MS, Dailly S, Crouch M. A randomized, controlled trial of tea tree topical preparations versus a standard topical regimen for the clearance of MRSA colonization. J Hosp Infect. Apr2004;56(4):283-6.
  8. View Abstract: Nenoff P, et al. Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against pathogenic fungi in vitro. Skin Pharmacol. 1996;9(6):388-94.
  9. View Abstract: Tong MM, et al. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Australas J Dermatol. 1992;33(3):145-9.
  10. View Abstract: Buck DS, et al. Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole. J Fam Pract. Jun1994;38(6):601-5.
  11. View Abstract: Bassett IB, et al. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust. Oct1990;153(8):455-8.
  12. Belaiche P. Treatment of vaginal infections of Candida albicans with the esential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. Phytotherapie. 1985:15.
  13. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In Vitro Susceptibilities of Lactobacilli and Organisms Associated with Bacterial Vaginosis to Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Jan1999;43(1):196.
  14. View Abstract: Jandera V, Hudson DA, de Wet PM, et al. Cooling the Burn Wound: Evaluation of Different Modalites. Burns. May2000;26(3):265-70.
  15. View Abstract: Zhang SY, Robertson D. A Study of Tea Tree Oil Ototoxicity. Audiol Neurootol. Mar2000;5(2):64-8.
  16. View Abstract: Hart PH, Brand C, Carson CF, et al. Terpinen-4-ol, the Main Component of the Essential Oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil), Suppresses Inflammatory Mediator Production by Activated Human Monocytes. Inflamm Res. Nov2000;49(11):619-26.
  17. View Abstract: Del Beccaro MA. Melaleuca oil poisoning in a 17-month-old. Vet Hum Toxicol. Dec1995;37(6):557-8.
  18. View Abstract: Jacobs MR, et al. Melaleuca oil poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1994;32(4):461-4.
  19. View Abstract: Knight TE, et al. Melaleuca oil (tea tree oil) dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol. Mar1994;30(3):423-7.
  20. Greig JE, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis following use of a tea tree oil hand-wash not due to tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis. Dec1999;41(6):354-5.
  21. View Abstract: Khanna M, Qasem K, Sasseville D. Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Tea Tree Oil with Erythema Multiforme-like ID Reaction. Am J Contact Dermat. Dec2000;11(4):238-42.
  22. View Abstract: Zhang SY, Robertson D. A Study of Tea Tree Oil Ototoxicity. Audiol Neurootol. Mar2000;5(2):64-8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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