Latin Name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Other Names: Melaleuca oil, Australian tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia.
Historically, the leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which is how tea tree oil got its name. The part used medicinally is the oil from the leaves.
Tea tree has a long history of traditional use. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections by crushing the leaves and applying them to the affected area.
Tea tree oil contains consituents called terpenoids, which have been found to have antiseptic and antifungal activity. The compound terpinen-4-ol is the most abundant and is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil's antimicrobial activity.
People use tea tree oil for the following conditions:
* Athlete's foot
* Periodontal disease
* As an antiseptic
Tea tree oil is most commonly found as a pure essential oil. It is also an ingredient in creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, and shampoos.
Tea tree oil should not be confused with Chinese tea oil, cajeput oil, kanuka oil, manuka oil, ti tree oil, and niauouli oil.