The name tea tree is used for several plants, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, from the family Myrtaceae, related to the myrtle.
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odor and a colour that ranges from pale yellow to nearly colourless and clear. It is derived from the leaves of the tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, native to southeast Queensland and the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. The oil comprises many constituent chemicals and its composition changes if it is exposed to air and oxidizes.
History and/or folklore: Commercial use of tee tree oil began in the 1920s, pioneered by the entrepreneur Arthur Penfold.
Tea tree oil is claimed as useful for treating dandruff, acne, lice, herpes, insect bites, scabies, and skin fungal or bacterial infections.
It is known for its supposed:
• Antibacterial/antimicrobial activity which comes from its ability to damage the cell walls of bacteria – this claims still need to have be supported by more research.
• Anti-inflammatory activity – possibly due to its high concentration of terpinen-4-ol, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties.
• Antifungal activity – to kill a range of yeasts and fungi. The majority of the studies reviewed focus on Candida albicans, a type of yeast which commonly affects the skin, genitals, throat, and mouth.
• Anti-acne – According to study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314442, Topical application of 5% tea tree oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris.
• Contact dermatitis – According to study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20865268 that compared effectiveness of tea tree oil, zinc oxide, and clobetasone butyrate on treatment of contact dermatitis, the tea tree oil was more effective in suppressing allergic contact dermatitis than other treatments. However, it did not have an effect on irritant contact dermatitis.
• Dandruff – According to study https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190962202003134 participants with dandruff, who used a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo daily for 4 weeks showed significant improvements in overall severity, as well as in the levels of itchiness and greasiness, when compared with a placebo.
It is poisonous if consumed by mouth, and unsafe for direct use on small children, as it can cause allergic reactions.
Application of tea tree oil to the skin can cause an allergic reaction (skin irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, systemic contact dermatitis). The potential for causing an allergic reaction increases as the oil ages and its chemical composition changes.
ESSENTIQ PRODUCTS CONTAINING TEA TREE
Intimate Soap – Camomile, Calendula & Tea Tree