Tea Tree Oil – a Natural Science
(20 Jan 2012)
New Zealand Tea Tree and Australian Tea Tree may share similar healing properties, but they are vastly different plants.
These two trees are part of the Myrtacea family of which there are well over 200 different species growing in Australia and New Zealand. The two widely known as “tea tree” are the Australian Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and the New Zealand Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium). The essential oil from these two trees is commonly used based on their therapeutic properties.
[left] New Zealand Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) [right] Australian Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Australian Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
The first reports of Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil’s antimicrobial activity were published in the 1920s and 1930s. This lead to an increased interest in the use of the oil and further research followed. Over 100 components were identified within the oil, two were deemed to be significant, terpinen-4-ol which is responsible for most of the antimicrobial activity of Tea Tree Oil and and 1,8 cineole which has proven beneficial as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
To the dismay of the large pharmaceutical industry, isolating individual components for patents does not always result in a superior product. It is the combination or the synergy of all these components that leads to its therapeutic properties. Nature knows best!
The Melaleuca alternifolia is cultivated in special plantations where it must meet stringent Australian standards. These internationally compliant standards have allowed the Tea tree oil industry in Australia to successfully trade on the global market.
New Zealand Manuka Oil (Leptospermum scoparium)
The New Zealand Manuka Oil (Leptospermum scoparium) has to date, been extracted from bush stands and is harvested by hand. Unlike the Australian tea tree, the Manuka does not regenerate if pruned right back to a stump, so care must be taken to only harvest a proportion of the leave of each tree. Due to the additional harvesting costs and lower yields, Manuka oil can be 3-4 times more expensive that the Australian tea tree oil.
There is no international standard that the Manuka oil must meet so the properties of the oil can vary in different regions of New Zealand. Research has shown that oil with the highest therapeutic properties comes from the East Cape. This triketone rich oil was shown to be active against pathelological bacteria, as well as having anthelmintic (anti worm) and insecticidal activity. At present the main commercial interest is focused on the triketone rich oil, but oils with other properties are also available.
Which Oil should I buy?
As you can see there is a lot more to “Tea Tree” than meets the eye. Next time you are choosing which Tea Tree Oil to purchase, ensure you are selecting the oil with the properties you are seeking. For instance, people with sensitive skin may have an adverse reaction the the 100% pure oils so use of the 20% oil blend is recommended.
Unwind with Tea Tree Oil.
Take time to unwind this summer with a soothing Tea Tree Oil massage.
Mix pure 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil with a quality cold pressed oil such as sweet almond oil to provide a soothing lubricant for a total body massage. It will help you maintain healthy skin tissue and provide a natural barrier to reducing moisture loss – a perfect antidote for the drying effects of the sun and sea!
Alternatively, try Tea Tree Manor Massage Oil or Massage and Body Lotion.
And if you are still looking for ways to de-stress then here is an ebook on How to Eliminate Stress from Your Life and Live Happier and Healthier!