Tea Tree

Also indexed as:Melaleuca alternifolia
Tea Tree: Main Image
Botanical names:
Melaleuca alternifolia

Parts Used & Where Grown

The tea tree grows in Australia and Asia. This tall evergreen tree has a white, spongy bark. The oil from the leaves is used medicinally.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Acne Vulgaris
Apply 5% oil twice per day3 stars[3 stars]
Although tea tree oil is slower and less potent than benzoyl peroxide, it has been shown to improve acne with far fewer side effects.
Athlete’s Foot
Apply a 10% cream twice per day 2 stars[2 stars]
Tea tree oil has been traditionally used to treat athlete’s foot and has been shown to reduce athlete’s foot symptoms just as effectively as drugs and better than placebo.
Yeast Infection
Swish 15 ml of a 5% or less solution in mouth for 30 to 60 seconds four times per day, then spit out2 stars[2 stars]
One trial found that a mouthwash with diluted tea tree oil was effective in decreasing the growth of Candida albicans in people with oral Candida infections (thrush).
Halitosis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Volatile oils made from tea tree have antibacterial properties and may be effective in mouthwash or toothpaste form.
Head Lice
Apply shampoo to hair and leave on for one hour before washing outas Paw Paw, Thyme Oil, and Tea Tree Oil Shampoo1 star[1 star]
An herbal shampoo containing a standardized extract of paw paw, thyme oil, and tea tree oil has been found to be effective in treating head lice.
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
A 5% solution of tea tree oil has been shown to eliminate oral thrush in people with AIDS, according to one trial.
Infection
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Tea tree is an herb that directly attack microbes.
Vaginitis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Topically applied tea tree oil has been used successfully as a topical treatment for TrichomonasCandida albicans, and other vaginal infections.
Wound Healing
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Tea tree oil may be applied topically to skin wounds, although it is not recommended for burns.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Australian Aborigines used the leaves to treat cuts and skin infections. They would crush the leaves and apply them to the affected area. Captain James Cook and his crew named the tree “tea tree,” using its leaves as a substitute for tea as well as to flavor beer. Australian soldiers participating in World War I were given tea tree oil as a disinfectant, leading to a high demand for its production.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.