Melaleuca leucadendron

Melaleuca leucadendron

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name

Myrtaceae 

Genus Name

Melaleuca

Vernacular Name

Cajeput, weeping paper bark, white tea tree, paper-bark tea tree, oleum cajuputi, swamp tea tree.

Original Habitat

This tree grows in areas such as the East Indies, New Caledonia, Madagascar, and Australia. The Cajeput tree is tall, growing upwards of 20 metres and has a flexible trunk. The bark is thin, white and papery. Cajeput flowers are off-whitish and the weeping leaves are the source of the essential oil.

Plant Part Used

Leaves

Formulation

The essential oil of M. leucadendron is regularly used in baked goods, frozen foods, candies and beverages. In the fragrance and perfume industry, it is rarely used. In therapeutic aromatherapy it is used primarily in formulations.[1]

Description

M. leucadendron essential oil is steam distilled from the weeping leaves of the tree. It is thin in consistency and is clear to a very pale yellow in colour with a fresh, camphorous aroma.

Chemical Constituents

Terpenic oxides: 1, 8 cineole (40-60%)
Terpenic alcohols: Alpha terpineol (10-15%)
Terpenes: Alpha and beta pinenes, limonene (17%)
Sesquiterpenols: Viridiflorol (15%), nerolidol (5-7%) [2][3][4][5]

Medicinal Uses

Antibacterial against Staphylococcus aureus, among others ++++
Antimycobacterial +++
Anticatarrhal, expectorant +++
Antiviral +++
Blood decongestant +++
Immune system energizer +++

Antibacterial: An in vitro test found M. leucadendron essential oil and its chemical constituents to have beneficial antibacterial activity. This activity was potentiated when combined with known antibiotics, and showed promise in antibacterial topical applications.[6]

The hydrodistillation of M. leucadendron showed antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans and Trichophyton mentagrophyte.[7]

Traditional Use

Chronic respiratory and catarrhal infections ++++
Sinusitis, bronchitis +++
Genital herpes, cervical dysplasia +++
Viral hepatitis, biliary lithiases ++
Psoriasis, boils, fungal dermatitis ++
Varicose veins, hemorrhoids, enteritis +++

Insect Repellant: M. leucadendron essential oil was tested with two additional oils against Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.  All three essential oils showed some level of repellency.[8] In a separate study, this essential oil also was protective against three types of mosquitoes, including the Yellow Fever mosquito for 8 hours on human skin.[9]

Contraindications and Precautions

Although this plant has been shown to be non-allergenic, some people do report allergic rhinitis.[10]

M. leucadendron is reported to have oestrogen-like properties and should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women and those at risk of breast cancer.

 

[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

References

1.     Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

2.     Farag RS. Chemical and biological evaluation of the essential oils of different Melaleuca species. Phytother Res. Jan2004;18(1):30-35.

3.     Lee CK. A new norlupene from the leaves of Melaleuca leucadendron. J Nat Prod. 27 Mar1998;61(3):375-376.

4.     Jedlicková Z. Antibacterial properties of the Vietnamese cajeput oil and ocimum oil in combination with antibacterial agents. J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 1992;36(3):303-309.

5.     Ajai K. Chemical composition of the essential oil from fresh leaves of Melaleuca leucadendron L. from north India. Journal of Essential Oil-Bearing Plants. CABI Abstracts.

6.     Jedlicková Z. Antibacterial properties of the Vietnamese cajeput oil and ocimum oil in combination with antibacterial agents. J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 1992;36(3):303-309.

7.     Lohakachornpan P. Chemical compositions and antimicrobial activities of essential oil from Melaleuca leucadendron var. minor. Thai J Pharma Sci. 2001;25(3-4):133-139.

8.     Noosidum A. Excito-repellency properties of essential oils from Melaleuca leucadendron L., Litsea cubeba (Lour.) Persoon and Litsea salicifolia (Nees) on Aedes aegypti (L.) mosquitoes. J Vector Ecol. Dec2008;33(2):305-312.

9.     Amer A. Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes. Parasitol Res. Sep2006;99(4):478-490.

10.  Stablein JJ. Melaleuca tree and respiratory disease. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. Nov2002;89(5):523-530.