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Kunzea ericoides

Kunzea ericoides

[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


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Kanuka, kanuka oil, white tea tree, kunzea oil

Original Habitat

Kanuka oil is similar to the very popular tea tree oil and it belongs to the same family. This plant is native to New Zealand and has traditionally been used for diarrhea and inflammation.[1] The Kunzea ericoides shrub grows upwards of six metres and it has small white flowers that bloom mid-summer in Australia and New Zealand.

Plant Part Used

Leaves, stems and branchlets


There is no reported use of Kanuka oil in foods, beverages or fragrance products.[1] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is primarily used as a single oil and less likely to be found in formulations.


Kanuka essential oil is steam-distilled, thin in consistency and pale yellow in color with a medicinal scent.

Chemical Constituents

Viridiflorene [2]

Medicinal Uses


Relaxant- Kanuka oil, among other oils, was tested on stimulated guinea-pig ileum for its potential relaxant effects. The results illustrated that Kanuka oil initially induced a contraction; however, it was followed by spasmolytic activity. Still, the mechanism of action was not identified. Other studies have also demonstrated this activity.[3]

Cytotoxic- Several oils from the Myrtaceae family were tested for their cytotoxicity. Among the oils, Kanuka oil demonstrated moderate cytotoxic activity.[4] Other comparison analysis revealed Kanuka as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[5]

Antibacterial- Kanuka has exhibited antibacterial activity. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is problematic in hospital settings. Several essential oils were tested against MRSA and other bacteria and yeasts. Although Kanuka oil did not have the highest antibacterial activity, it did show good efficacy.[6] Other studies have confirmed the antimicrobial activity.[3][5]

Traditional Use

Muscle aches and soreness+++
Wound care++
Pain associated with over exertion++

Mucositis- Patients with head and neck cancers used a mouthwash to treat their radiation-induced mucositis. Nineteen patients received an oral rinse that contained Kanuka and Manuka essential oils or just a plain water rinse. Although this was a small randomized placebo-controlled study, the essential oil mouthwash group showed a decrease in symptoms associated with radiation induced mucositis.[7]

Contraindications and Precautions

This oil is considered safe as no toxicity has been reported when used as directed.

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.


[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]


1.         Lis-Balchin M. An investigation of the actions of the essential oils of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides), Myrtaceae on guinea-pig smooth muscle. J Pharm Pharmacol. Jul 1998;50(7):809-811.

2.         Porter NG. Chemical, physical and antimicrobial properties of essential oils of Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides. Phytochemistry. Feb 1999;50(3):407-415.

3.         Lis-Balchin M. Pharmacological and antimicrobial studies on different tea-tree oils (Melaleuca alternifolia, Leptospermum scoparium or Manuka and Kunzea ericoides or Kanuka), originating in Australia and New Zealand. Phytother Res. Dec 2000;14(8):623-629.

4.         Schnitzler P. Comparative study on the cytotoxicity of different Myrtaceae essential oils on cultured vero and RC-37 cells. Pharmazie. Nov 2008;63(11):830-835.

5.         Wyatt RM. Phytochemical analysis and biological screening of leaf and twig extracts from Kunzea ericoides. Phytother Res. Nov 2005;19(11):963-970.

6.         Warnke PH. The battle against multi-resistant strains: Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 25 May 2009.

7.         Maddocks-Jennings W. Evaluating the effects of the essential oils Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) and Kunzea ericoides (kanuka) on radiotherapy induced mucositis: a randomized, placebo controlled feasibility study. Eur J Oncol Nurs. Apr 2009;13(2):87-93.

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