Tea Tree

About Tea Tree

Tea Tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), a tree that is indigenous to certain regions of Australia. The oil, which can range in colour from light yellow to clear and has a camphor-like smell, is obtained by steam distillation of fresh leaves from the tea tree.  

The tea tree plant has long been used by Australian Aboriginal communities as a way to treat wounds, burns and other skin ailments.  Although it has not been verified, it’s generally believed that tea tree was given its name by British explorer Lieutenant James Cook in the 1770’s after witnessing native Australians brewing tea with the leaves from the tree. It is believed that its first recorded use as a medicine was when the British Lieutenant served a tea brewed with the leaves to his troops as a way to ward off scurvy.


How It Works

Once the oil is extracted, it contains over 98 compounds; most notably, terpenoids (e.g. terpinen-4-ol, a-terpinene, terpinolene). These natural lipids are known for being antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal. In addition, tea tree oil is said to penetrate the lower skin layers with its anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, analgesic (pain killing) and cicatrisant (wound-healing) abilities. These unique properties have helped give tea tree a reputation as an all-round beneficial ingredient.

The oil’s antifungal properties make it effective against funguses such as Malassezia furfur, a type of skin scale, and various species of Candida (yeast), including candida albicans, which can result in oral and genital infections in humans.

Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make tea tree an ideal treatment for non-hormonal acne by helping clear the bacteria associated with this often painful skin condition, and reducing the inflammation it causes. It is effective in treating other bacterial infections as well.


Common Concerns

Because tea tree oil contains varying amounts of 1,8–cineole, a known irritant, tea tree oil can cause irritation and dermatitis in some individuals. Typically, reactions are mild and disappear with discontinued use, but in some cases can be more severe. This is especially true when the oil is used in high concentrations (50-100%). In concentrations as low as 2-5%, tea tree oil is also known to be hazardous to pets, especially cats who are both more sensitive to the ingredient and more likely to lick off any that is applied topically. Concentrations found in Nature’s Aid skin gel for pets falls below the toxicity level for cats and dogs. For more information check out naturesaidpets.com.


Quick Facts

Binomial Name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Common Name: Tea Tree
Source: Tea Tree bark and branches
EWG Score: 1


Proven and Possible Benefits


Acne Dandruff In-grown hairs Purify oily skin


Boils Blisters Sunburn Cold sores Nail fungus Insect bites Athlete’s foot Ward off bacteria Minor Cuts and scrapes Prevent the spread of infection Stop or slow minor bleeding Soothe itching and minor skin irritations Muscle and joint pain (e.g. gout, arthritis)




Information contained in this website is intended for educational purposes only and is no way intended for diagnosis. The Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada have not evaluated this information. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For health problems, please refer to a qualified health practitioner.


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