Captain Cook named this tree after finding that its aromatic, resinous leaves made a satisfying substitute for proper tea. One hundred and fifty years later, an Australian government chemist named A.R. Penfold studied tea tree leaves and discovered their antiseptic properties. Tea tree oil subsequently became a standard treatment in Australia for the prevention and treatment of wound infections. During World War II, the Australian government classified tea tree oil as an essential commodity and exempted producers from military service.
However, tea tree oil fell out of favor when antibiotics became widely available.
What Is Tea Tree Used for Today?
Note antibiotic antiseptic
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Tea Tree?
Tea tree preparations contain various percentages of tea tree oil. For treating acne, the typical strength is 5% to 15%; for fungal infections, 70% to 100% is usually used; and for use as a vaginal douche (with medical supervision), 1% to 40% concentrations have been used. It is usually applied 2 to 3 times daily, until symptoms resolve. However, tea tree oil can be irritating to the skin, so start with low concentrations until you know your tolerance.
Like other essential oils, tea tree oil can be toxic if taken orally in excessive doses.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/91/2013 -