Tea tree oil

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 06.03.2024

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Melaleucae alternifoliae aetheroleum; Melaleucae alternifoliae aetherolum; tea tree oil

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Essential oil obtained by steam distillation from the leaves of the tea tree (Meleleuca alternifolia).

The quality of tea tree oil (Melaleucae aetheroleum) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

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The various commercially available substance mixtures contain about 100 currently known components, including eucalyptol and terpinen-4-ol (at least 30%), limonene, alpha-terpinene, delta-terpinene, alpha-pinene, ascaridol, cineol, myrcene and numerous other organic compounds.

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Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, analgesic and antipruritic

Field of application/use
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HMPC monograph: traditional herbal medicinal product: 1) for the treatment of small superficial wounds and insect bites. 2) For the treatment of small boils (furuncles and mild acne). 3) for the relief of itching and irritation in mild athlete's foot (athlete's foot) 4) for the symptomatic treatment of mild inflammation of the oral mucosa.

ESCOP monograph: bacterial infections and fungal infections of the skin including furunculosis, athlete's foot, nail fungus and dandruff; for eradication of MRSA (multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) during hospitalization; for vaginal infections such as trichomonal vaginitis, vaginal candidiasis and cervicitis.

According to studies, well effective in scabies (alternative therapeutic approach in case of resistance to first-line therapeutics such as permethrin).

Tea tree oil is increasingly used in naturopathic products and in complementary medicine. It is recommended for wounds, skin inflammations, fungal diseases (e.g. dermatomycoses), acne, psoriasis, herpes labialis, warts, gingivitis, burns, neurodermatitis, oral mucosa diseases, corns, insect bites, pediculosis capitis, scabies, sinusitis and many more.The use is based on the antiseptic, bactericidal, fungicidal, acaricidal and wound-healing effects of tea tree oil.

Undesirable effects
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Allergic contact dermatitis has been demonstrated to 1.8-cineole (eucalyptol), d-limonene, alpha-terpinene, aromadendrene and p-cymene. Sensitization potency: Low. Sensitization frequency: Rare. Oxidation products (peroxides, hydroperoxides and endoperoxides) formed during the oxidation of tea tree oil are suspected to be the cause of sensitization.

Remark. The terpenes contained in tea tree oil also occur in many other plants and plant oils so that a considerable cross-reactivity has to be expected.

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Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to rosin.

Pregnancy and lactation - no safety studies are available yet.

Children under 12 years: lack of experience

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Store away from light and at a moderate temperature to reduce oxidation. In addition to commercially available cosmetic products containing tea tree oil, 5% tea tree oil in petrolatum is an inexpensive, pharmaceutically stable preparation.

Tea tree oil formulations are no longer included in the NRF or other commonly used formulary.

Do not use orally or as an inhalation.Do not use in eyes or ears.

Notice. Tea tree oil mixtures with essential vegetable oils, e.g. Oleum origani cretici, as listed in the Supplementary Book to the German Pharmacopoeia, 6th edition, 1926 (!!), are not recommended, as many essential oils are not available in pharmaceutically acceptable quality and may therefore not be used in pharmacies. For the preparation of tea tree oil mixtures, only the following are available in pharmaceutical quality: Oleum amygdalae, Oleum olivarum, Oleum Avocado.

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