Tea Tree

Melaleuca alternifolia

Tea tree oil is best known for its ability to fight infections. It has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic properties and is used primarily as an essential oil due to its high cytotoxicity. To explore the characteristics, medicinal uses and prescribing considerations of this herb in more detail, check out the references indicated.

Characteristics

  • Common Names: Tea tree, Ti tree
  • Family: Myrtaceae
  • Habitat: Melaleuca alternifolia is native to Australia.
  • Parts Used: Leaves
  • Constituents: volatile oils (terpinen-4-ol, cineol)
  • Medicinal Actions: antimicrobial (bacteria, viruses), antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic, immunostimulant

Historical Uses

Melaleuca alternifolia was used by aboriginal Australians for coughs, colds, and skin infections as infusions or inhaled.

Medicinal Uses

  • Infections
  • infections such as wounds, infected rashes, impetigo, infected seborrheic dermatitis, furuncles, acne, warts, fungi (ringworm, athlete's foot), vaginal yeast infections (suppositories or douche), throat infections, oral thrush (gargle and spit)
  • chronic infections including cystitis and postviral fatigue syndrome.
  • Tea Tree Oil is effective against bacterial, fungal, viral and protozoa infections.
  • Caution with tea tree oil is required as it has a high level of cytotoxicity.

DBM Protocol - Adjunct Therapy - Melaleuca alternifolia 

The information provided is intended to augment the treatment. Although most herbs are generally safe, it is recommended that patients avoid self-prescribing especially when there is an underlying ongoing medical condition, if they are on any prescription medications or if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Formulations and Preparation

  • Infusion - 1/2 tsp per cup of water three times daily
  • Oil - may be used topically; dilute in carrier oil if burning of skin occurs (due to cineol- low quality oil has more)

Products should contain 30% or more terpinen-4-ol and less than 15% cineol.

Safety

The safety and prescribing considerations for this herb include:

  • Generally regarded as safe.
  • Side-effects are potential allergic hypersensitivity may occur with internal use, external use, or inhalation due to the volatile oils; skin irritation.
  • Caution should be taken with oral administration.
  • Drug-Herb Interactions.
  • Aminopyrine - Increased clearance of drug may occur due to induction of hepatic enzymes.
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