Tea tree essential oil is an important antibacterial and antifungal agents. Tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a clear and colorless to faintly yellow volatile oil, practically insoluble in water and it's odor is spicy-aromatic with the reminiscent of nutmeg (Wichtl, 2004). Its common name is Melaleuca and it is a small tree that grows up to 15 feet high and has a papery bark (Young 2002). It's key constituents are gamma terpinene (10-28%), alpha-terpinene (5-13%), 1,8 cineole (eucalyptol) (0-15%), alpha-terpineol (1.5-8%), para-cymene (0.5-12%), terpineol-4 (30-45%), limonene (0.5-4%), aromadendrene (trace-7%), delta-cadinene (trace -8%), alpha-pinene (1-6%), monoterpenes: a-pinene, ß-pinene, myrcene, sesquiterpenes, monoterpene alcohol (45-50%),terpene oxides and it has high levels of terpineol (Young 2002). The therapeutic actions of Melaleuca alternifolia are anti-infectious, antibacterial (large spectum action of gram positive and gram negative bacteria), antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, cardiotonic, analgesic and neurotonic (Young 2002).
There are a variety of medicinal uses for tea tree Australia such as athlete's foot, fungal infections, bronchitis, respiratory infections, gum disease, rash, sore throat, sunburn, tonsillitis, vaginal thrush, acne, parasites, head lice, herpes infection, psoriasis, common cold, boils, cuts, bites, warts, ingrown nails and impetigo (Hoffman 2003). Tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia) promotes cleansing and purity. It is for external use and people with sensitive skin should dilute it first with a fixed carrier oil, such as almond oil. There is a wide range of products containing tea tree oil including toothpaste, soap and shampoo (Hoffman 2003).
Tea tree New Zealand (Leptospermum scoparium) aromatics are different than tea tree Australia that it's oil has a sweet, honey-like aroma and is usually colorless to pale yellow or brown (Blinne 1999). Its common name is Manuka oil that is a small shrub or tree that grows to be about 26 feet high. Tea tree New Zealand key constituents are Beta-caryphyllen, Geraniol, Linalol, Alphapinene, Geranuylacetate, monoterpene hydrocarbons, pinene, terpinene, calamanene, lirnonene, myrcene and leptospermone (Blinne 1999). Unlike, Melaleuca alternifolia that has high levels of terpineol, tea tree New Zealand key constituent is leptospermone which is can be synthesized from phloroglucinol by a reaction with 3-methylbutanenitrile (isovaleronitrile) in the presence of a zinc chloride catalyst (Blinne 1999).
Tea tree New Zealand oil medical therapeutic actions are similar to tea tree Australia oil which is analgesic, anesthetic, antiasthmatic, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antipruritic, antiseptic, antiviral, antizymotic, aphrodisiac, deodorant, diaphoretic, expectorant, fungicidal, germicidal, immune stimulant, insecticide, nervine, sedative and vulnerary (Blinne 1999). Leptospermum scoparium medicinal uses are also very similar to tea tree Australia oil but tea tree Zealand also includes emotional uses such as fear, anxiety, stress, low libido and blending all aspects of self (Blinne 1999). It has been known to help with molding and shaping emotion and reality (Blinne 1999). It also gives patience, support, calming, caring and connecting all chakras to the heart chakra (Blinne 1999). Tea tree New Zealand oil have some other key uses that has been found effective in treating 39 separate micro-organisms including streptococci and staphylococcal fungal and bacterial infections on the skin (Blinne 1999). It blends well with most oils making it a desirable perfume note. In addition, because of its pleasant aroma, it can be used in place of Tea Tree Australia oil in situations where clients are adverse to tea tree oil (Blinne 1999).
Blinne, K. (1999, Summer), Leptospermum scoparium. In Scentsitivity: Journal of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. (Vol. 9 Issue 2, p8. 1p).
Hoffman, D. (2003). Materia Medica. In Medical Herbalism (p. 566). Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press
Wichtl, M. (2004). Melaleucae aethroleum. In Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals (4th ed., pp. 376-378). Stuttgart, Germany: medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers.
Young, G. (2002) Single Oils. In Essential Oils: Desk Reference, (2nd ed., pp 60-61) Lehi, UT: Essential Science Publishing