a poll conducted by Prevention Magazine and reported
by NBC News, one-third of Americans use herbal medicines
and spend an average of 54 US dollars on herbal products,
adding up to 3.4 billion dollars worth of sales. People
take herbs for several reasons. Individuals prefer
taking natural medicines than pharmaceutical drugs
and OTC drugs for self treatable health problems.
In today's societies, natural medicine is becoming
more mainstream. The baby boomers now make up a large
portion of consumers in the natural products industry.
Sales of herbs in the United States market alone in
the natural health food stores and chain stores rose
over 20% between 1994 and 1996, and continue to rise
in popularity, while other countries in the world
are following suit. In a poll conducted by Prevention
Magazine and reported by NBC News, one-third of Americans
use herbal medicines and spend an average of 54 US
dollars on herbal products, adding up to 3.4 billion
dollars worth of sales. People take herbs for several
reasons. Individuals prefer taking natural medicines
than pharmaceutical drugs and OTC drugs for self treatable
the herbs are consumed to maintain wellness and increase
strength and elevate immune system functions. Thirdly,
herbs are taken to prevent degenerative diseases.
The scientific studies and implementation of these
herbs is timely, due to the fact that airborne viruses
and immune deficiency disorders are becoming more
commonplace in our societies and many allopathic medicines
do not seem to have the capacity to control, let alone
cure, these chronic illnesses.
alternifolia, (tea tree oil) has become increasingly
more known and used as a first aid remedy for a number
of skin ailments. The scientific research in Australia
and in the U.S. have confirmed the efficacy in treating
bacterial and fungal skin infections and also verifying
minimal adverse reactions.
quote Dr Paul Belaiche, Chief of Phytotherapy Department
at the University of Paris, France, "The essential
oil of Melaleuca has entered the team of
major essential oils and emerges as an antiseptic
and antifungal weapon of the first order in phyto-aromatherapy."
Discovery of Tea Tree Oil
1770, Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy
disembarked from the H.M.S. Endeavor at Botany Bay,
Australia – near the eventual site of Sydney. From
there, he travelled north through the coastal regions
of New South Wales, where he came upon groves of trees
thick with sticky, aromatic leaves that, when boiled,
rendered a spicy tea. The early explorers could not
have known that 150 years later, Melaleuca alternifolia
(tea tree) as it was called by Captain Cook, would
be used as a medicinal agent for cuts, burns, bites,
and a host of skin ailments.
1923, Dr. A.R. Penfold, curator and chemist at the
Government Museum of Technology and Applied Sciences
in Sydney, Australia, conducted a study of the leaves
of the tea tree. Dr Penfold discovered their essential
oils to be thirteen times stronger as an antiseptic
bactericide than carbolic acid, considered the universal
standard in the early 1900s. Dr Penfold noted Melaleuca
alternifolia is quite common, and exists in very large
areas in the North Coast district of New South Wales.
It yields 1.8% of an oil of pale lemon tint, with
a pleasant terpenic myristic odour. This is prepared
on a commercial scale, and is particularly recommended
as a non-poisonous, non irritant antiseptic of unusual
strength, the Rideal-Walker coefficient being 11.
oil contains 50-60% of terpenes (pinenes, terpinene
and cymene), from 6-8% of cineole (accounting for
the camphoraceous odour) and an alcohol terpineol,
which supplies the pleasant nutmeg-like odour, also
small amounts of sesquiterpenes and their corresponding
alcohols. The valuable antiseptic properties of the
oil and its spicy flavouring note should prove useful
in dentrifices and mouthwashes."1"
a 1972 study done on various foot problems, i.e.:
athletes foot, fungal infections, under-toenail corns,
and calluses, Dr. Walker used tea tree oil in three
different formulas; first as a pure oil; second, 40%
oil with 10% isopropyl alcohol (which allows the oil
to be water miscible, giving it another name, Melasol)
and third, 8% oil with lanolin and chlorophyll. Sixty
patients were involved in the study.
were put on Melasol, 20 applied the ointment and 8
used the pure oil. Treatments varied from three weeks
to four years. Out of 68 patients, 58 found relief
from their foot problems over a period of six years.
At least four different fungal conditions are affiliated
with athlete's foot, all of which responded well using
tea tree oil. "2"
treatments from fungal infections of the nails (onychomycosis)
include debridement (removal of foreign matter and
dead or damaged tissue), topical medication, and systemic
therapies. This study assessed the efficacy and tolerability
of topical applications of 1% clotrimazole solution
compared with that of 100% Melaleuca alternifolia
(tea tree) oil for the treatment of toenail onychomycosis.
a six month double-blind, mutilcentre, randomised,
controlled trial of 117 patients with distal subungal
onychomycosis, participants received twice-daily applications
of either 1% clotrimazole (CL) solution (topical antifungal
drug), or 100% tea tree (TTO) oil. Debridement and
clinical assessment were performed at 0, 1, 3 and
6 months; cultures obtained at 0 and 6 months. After
6 months, the two groups were comparable based on
culture cure (CL=11%, TTO=18%). Three months later,
approximately half of each group reported continued
improvement or resolution.
was concluded that, while all current therapies have
high recurrence rates, the use of a topical preparation
in conjunction with debridement is an appropriate
initial treatment. Topical therapy, including the
above two preparations, provides improvement in nail
appearance and symptoms, while oral therapy has the
disadvantage of high cost and potentially serious
study reinforces the need to use a potent (in this
case 100%) concentration of tea tree oil to produce
better short-term and long-term efficacy. In children
and those with skin sensitivity, a 70% solution may
be better tolerated. "3"
patients are susceptible to contact with infectious
bacteria that can be easily transmitted through hospital
staff members. One such common bacteria is Staphylococcus
aureus. The bacteria was tested for antibiotic resistance.
Tea tree oil dilutions of 0.2% - 2.0% were added to
the cultures of the bacteria, and growth measured.
The effective tea tree dosage to inhabit the bacteria
was 0.25%; 0.5% killed the bacteria. There were few
side effects from skin irritation. These in-vitro
results suggest tea tree oil may be useful in the
treatment of MRSA carriage. "4"
new protocol for antimicrobial testing of oils" is
a paper about the bactericidal testing of oil distilled
from the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia and M. linariifolia)
for FDA recognition of tea tree oil as a safe and
effective topical ingredient. It would be the first
natural topical antiseptic so recognised. The difficulty
in testing tea tree oil is that the pure oil is not
water soluble, and floats to the top of the bacterial
medium. The FDA's proposed method for testing has
been to use water soluble and/or miscible products
together with a chemical neutraliser.
this test, a protocol was established to test the
oil in non-water-soluble form, using a non-toxic solvent.
Tea tree oil demonstrated the FDA required bactericidal
3 log kill against Pseudomonas aeruginosa,
Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia
three organism have been selected by the FDA because
of their prevalence and life-threatening potential.
The authors have petitioned the FDA to include this
new protocol in proposed 21 CFR 333.71 (d) ii, "Bactericidal
Assay Procedures" in the testing monograph for First
Aid Antiseptic Drug Products. "5"
International Standard 4730
Standard 4730 states that tea tree oil should be extracted
from the Melaleuca alternifolia, Melaleuca
linafolia, or Melaleuca dissitifolia
species of the Myrtaceae family. Other tea
tree species, including Cajuput (Melaleuca cajuputi),
New Zealand Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium),
New Zealand Ti-Tree (Cordyline australis),
and Kanuka (Leptospermum ericoides), are
not highly regarded, as they do not contain the same
anti-microbial benefits, nor have they been in use
for nearly a century as has Melaleuca alternifolia.
1. Avoid contact with eyes.
2. Keep out of the reach of children.
3. Do not take internally without consulting your
health practitioner. This precaution does not include
the use of toothpaste, mouthwash (without swallowing)
4. Dilute with Extra Virgin Olive Oil before use on
5. Do a patch test before using on sensitive skin.
Extremely sensitive skin may need dilutions of the
pure oil. Dilutions of 1:250 are still bacteriostatic
against pathogenic streptococci and staphylococci,
typhus, pneumococcus, and gonococcus.
6. Store separately from homeopathic remedies.
7. Pregnant women should take extra precaution.
a few drops of tea tree oil on a cotton swab and apply
to the inside of the arm. If you have an adverse reaction,
irritation will appear on the skin within a matter
of minutes. If the patch test doesn't indicate any
irritation or allergic reaction, you may use a few
drops of tea tree oil directly on the problem area
of the skin once or twice a day.
Always keep tea tree oil in amber-coloured bottles
and store in a cool dry place. The oil will stay potent
and will not deteriorate from exposure to light, air,
and heat. Do not store in plastic bottles. Cap should
be on tight to avoid oxidation and evaporation.
not store or use tea tree oil near homeopathic remedies,
as it may contaminate your remedy.
life is generally two to three years if properly stored.
There have been reports of tea tree oil retaining
its efficacy after being stored for much longer periods
of time; however, perhaps due to stricter guidelines
from various government regulatory bodies, it is now
recommended that the oil be stored for a maximum of
for additional information
Tea Tree Oil Guide third edition, revised, 1998
by Cynthia Olsen Published by Kali Press, Pagosa Springs,
Co USA ISBN 1-890941-01
Penfold,A.R., and F.R. Morrison. "Some Notes on the
Essential Oil of Melaleuca alternifolia." Australian
Journal of Pharmacy, March 30, 1930. British
Medical Journal, 1933.
2 M Walker, Foot Problems, Current Podiatry,
3 D.S. Buck, D. M. Nidorf, and J.G. Addino, Treatment
of Nail Fungus: A Comparison of Two Topical Preparations.
Journal of Family Practice, June; 38(6):
4 Carson, C.F., B.D. Cookson, H.D. Farrelly, and T.V.
Riley. "Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia."
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy,
35: 421-424 1995.
5 Smith, Martha D., Patricia L. Navilliat. A new protocol
for antimicrobial testing of oils." Journal of
Microbiological Methods 28 (1997)