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Botanical Agents

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

13 years, 8 months ago

1785  0
Posted on Dec 30, 2005, 8 p.m. By Bill Freeman

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Tea Tree oil is distilled from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Australia. Tea tree oil earned widespread fame in the 1700s, when Captain Cook enthused about the oil

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Tea Tree oil is distilled from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Australia. Tea tree oil earned widespread fame in the 1700s, when Captain Cook enthused about the oil’s wound and burn healing properties. Australian soldiers were issued tea tree oil as a disinfectant in World War II. Today, Tea Tree oil is sold as a topical antiseptic and remedy for a whole variety of ailments, including sunburn, sores, cuts, arthritis, bruises, insect bites, warts, acne, fungal infections, mouth ulcers, and dandruff.

ROLE FOR ANTI-AGING:

Tea Tree oil’s main infection fighting ingredient is terpinen-4-ol, a compound that weakens bacteria so that the immune system can fight them more effectively and kills a variety of microbes, including some that other standard antibiotics are ineffective against. In 1995 an in vitro study revealed that an 0.5% solution of tea tree oil (lower than that found in commercial concentrations) can both inhibit and kill certain antibiotic- resistant bacteria that are common in hospitals, for example the potentially deadly bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Other studies have shown that the oil is also effective in fighting organisms responsible for vaginal infections, including Trichomonas vaginalis and Candida albicans.

THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:

Tea tree oil is used externally in concentrations of 0.4 to 100%, depending on what part of the body it is applied to and for what purpose. It should not be taken internally.

MAXIMUM SAFE LEVEL: Not established

SIDE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS:

Tea Tree oil can irritate sensitive skin, however it is generally regarded as safe to use when applied externally. Tea tree oil should never be swallowed as it may cause nerve damage.

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