The Unique Powers of Australian Tea Tree Oil

Although Americans have discovered Australian Tea Tree only recently, it has quickly found its way into countless household products like soaps, deodorants, shampoos, topical ointments, cosmetics, and herbal remedies.

Australian tea tree oil has been used for almost 100 years for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-microbial properties. In Australia, tea tree oil is considered the strongest natural antiseptic - 4 to 5 times stronger than the usual household disinfectants. And it is 100% natural, biodegradable, and environment-friendly.

Where does Australian Tea Tree Oil Come from?

It is a volatile essential oil obtained by steam distillation of freshly harvested foliage of the Australian Tea Tree. It takes about a ton of branches and leaves to make 12–22 lbs. of the essential oil.

There are over three hundred varieties of Melaleuca tree but only one, the Australian Melaleuca Alternifolia, has both antiseptic and fungicidal properties. This bushy tree with needle-like leaves, related to Eucalyptus and Myrtle, grows to about 20 feet and is native to the low-lying wetlands of Northern New South Wales in Australia.

How was it Discovered?

Australian Tea Tree

Since the beginning of time, Australian Aborigines have used the tea tree for its healing properties. They treated cuts, burns, and skin infections by crushing its leaves and spreading the pulp over the affected area. They bathed in the healing waters of “magical healing lagoons,” where tea trees dropped their leaves and created a naturally antiseptic bath. In the 1770s, the British explorer Captain Cook observed the Aborigines brewing leaves of the tree to make a tea for curing various ailments. He then brewed a strong tea for his sailors to prevent scurvy. He coined the name “tea tree” and took the medicinal plants back to England for study.

However, scientists ignored the tea tree until 1920s, when Australian physicians began to use its essential oil to sterilize wounds after surgery. They found it to be much stronger than phenol (carbolic acid), the most widely used antiseptic at that time. And average Australians began to use it as a common household remedy for skin conditions and fungal infections. Then, the British Medical Journal reported that tea tree oil was "a powerful disinfectant – non-poisonous and non-irritant.”

During World War II, this “cure-all” became standard issue in the first-aid kits given to Australian soldiers and sailors for treatment of tropical infections, wounds, and everything else from head lice to trench foot. In 1955, the United States Dispensatory stated that Australian tea tree oil was actively germicidal "with an antiseptic action 11 to 13 times that of carbolic acid." But the US “Big Pharma” had little interest in promoting a natural medication that is inexpensive and non-patentable.

The Recent Comeback of the Tea Tree Oil

After the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics in the late 1940s, tea tree oil fell out of favor as an antibiotic.

But in the 1980s, it was found that some forms of staphylococcal bacteria(the “hospital killer bug”), became resistant to methicillin and vancomycin antibiotics (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or M.R.S.A.). After antibiotics failed, Australian Tea Tree oil was re-discovered as effective even against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The renewed interest in tea tree oil as an alternative to antibiotics led to more extensive laboratory research. It has proved that Australian Tea Tree oil possesses a broad range of antiseptic, antiviral, and fungicidal properties.

The Unique Powers of Australian Tea Tree Oil

There are other essential oils that also kill bacteria but Australian tea tree oil is unique – it also kills fungi, including molds and mildew. It has a broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. It is effective against all three categories of infectious organisms:

  • Bacteria (antiseptic/bactericide)
  • Viruses (viricide)
  • Fungi, molds & mildew (fungicide)

The list of its therapeutic properties is long: anti-infectious, antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, balsamic, expectorant, fungicide, immune-stimulant, insecticide, and stimulant. Its antifungal properties make it effective against a variety of fungal infections of the scalp, skin, and toenails. Its antiviral activity makes it a suitable treatment against the herpes group of viruses like cold sores, shingles, and warts.

The tea tree oil should be a part of any first aid kit. It can help with most minor conditions. Its anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties reduce swelling and soothe pain, while its antibacterial action prevents infections and reduces scarring. Use it topically for all skin ailments, cuts, burns, acne, cold sores, boils, warts, ringworm, skin rashes, herpes, corns, lice, insect bites, and fungal infections. As an organic solvent, it dissolves pus (lumps of white blood cells), allowing the blood stream to clean it away, and helps to heal infected wounds, boils, sores, and pimples.

Sample Research Results

Research has proven that Australian tea tree oil kills both gram negative and gram positive bacteria, even stubborn germs like Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherischia coli. Unlike some synthetic antiseptics, it works without damaging healthy cells. The following tables show how effective it is in inhibiting the growth of some infamous microorganisms (MCI - minimum inhibitory concentration).

Fungi and Yeasts MIC %
Aspergillus niger 0.3-0.4
Aspergillus flavus 0.4-0.5
Candida albicans 0.2
Pityrosporum ovales (Malassezia furfur) 0.2
Trichophyton mentagrophytes 0.3-0.4
Trichophyton rubrum 1.0
Gram Positive Bacteria MIC %
Bacillus cereus 0.3
Bacillus subtilis 0.3-0.4
Corynebacterium spp. 0.2-0.3
Micrococcus luteus 0.2-0.3
Propionibacterium acnes 0.4-0.5
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) 0.2-0.3
Staphylococcus aureus (NCTC 4163) (staph infection) 0.2
Staphylococcus epidermis (staph infection) 0.5
Enterococcus faecalis 0.5-0.75
Gram Negative Bacteria MIC %
Enterobacter aerogenes 0.3
Escherichia coli (E. coli) 0.2
Klebsiella pneumoniae 0.3
Legionella spp 0.75-1.0
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 9027) 1.0-2.0
Pseudomonas putida 0.5
Shigella sonnei 0.5

Tea Tree Products and Applications

The tea tree oil is now used in the US in a wide range of products - pharmaceutical, therapeutic, cosmetic, household and industrial, including:

  • Therapeutic Topical Products – antiseptic and antifungal solutions, gels, creams, lotions, ointments, and sprays.
  • Inhalers & Vaporizers – to clear up sinuses or bronchial congestion, and to help with colds and influenza, asthma.
  • Cosmetic & Toiletry Products – shampoos, soaps, creams, lotions, wipes, deodorants, and ointments.
  • Dental Products – mouthwashes, toothpaste, toothpicks, and disinfectants.
  • Household Products – solution or semi-solid disinfectants, cleansers.
  • Industrial Products – disinfectant sprays and air-conditioning duct disinfectant.

Product Safety

Australian Tea Tree oil is 100% natural and environmentally safe. It is produced from a naturally regenerating source. It has been widely used as a natural antiseptic for over 70 years in Australia and is currently in use worldwide.

Research shows that tea tree oil does not cause toxicity due to dermal adsorption and that it poses a low risk of skin irritation. You can test yourself for sensitivity by dabbing a drop on the inside of your forearm and waiting for several days. As with other commonly used essential oils, concentrated tea tree oil may be toxic when administered orally and hence the ingestion of pure tea tree oil is not recommended. Keep away from children and animals.

Household cleaners that use tea tree oil are a much safer and healthier alternative to chlorine bleach or most cleaners that contain possible cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde. Using Australian tea tree oil avoids the odors and health hazards of chlorine bleach.

The Natural Indoor Air Quality Solution

Australian Tea Tree oil is volatile and its vapors clean germs and molds in the indoor air. It is used as to purify indoor air in homes, offices, cruise ships, and hotels. When used in a hospital room, it does not interfere with other treatment for the patient.

The oil has been successfully used for the “sick building syndrome.” When placed inside the air-conditioning system, it helps protect office workers against the risks of legionella, immunological diseases, fatigue, headaches, colds, watery eyes, chronic coughs, and runny noses, resulting from breathing contaminated air.

Similarly, it protects passengers on ships or airliners against sudden epidemics. During the flue season, it can be used to prevent the spread of germs in homes and offices.

In addition, the tea tree oil is a natural deodorizer. Its vapors do not mask but break down musty or organic malodors, as well as smoke. There is a very long history of its therapeutic use in aromatherapy. Tea tree oil is inhaled using diffusers or vaporizers to clear up sinuses or bronchial congestion, and to help with colds and influenza, asthma, coughs, whooping cough, and viral infections.

The tea tree oil is penetrating – the oil and its vapors penetrate into porous materials, where they provide a lasting protection. The oil penetrates through the skin and even through fingernails. Its vapors saturate the air, spread by diffusion, and chase after biological pathogens into low-ventilated corners and even into upholstery, carpeting, sheetrock, and ceilings.

Regulations and the Mandatory Disclaimer

After years of testing to ensure that it is safe and effective, Australian tea tree oil has been approved by European government authorities and included in the European Pharmacopoeia. Its medicinal and therapeutic properties are no longer questioned. It has become widely used in Europe as an ingredient of many medicinal products such as antiseptics, skin creams and disinfectants, as well as in creams and lotions to treat insect bites, acne, athlete’s foot and a host of other bacterial infections.

However, the approval process with the US EPA or FDA is self-financed by companies and requires millions of dollars. There is no chance that an American pharmaceutical company will finance the research and approval of a natural, inexpensive, and non-patentable medication for the benefit of the population at large.

Therefore, any claims regarding the medical properties of tea tree oil are presented on this website for information only and as opinions not sanctioned by the US authorities. We provide no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the therapeutic properties of tea tree oil. But we can state that Australian Tea Tree oil is an effective natural deodorizer and cleaner, which is not disputed or regulated.

Although not officially sanctioned, the use of tea tree oil in household, medicinal, or cosmetic products marketed in the US is spreading rapidly because of its obvious yet undeclared benefits.

Australian Tea Tree Oil Composition

Australian Tea Tree oil is a complex of over 100 naturally occurring compounds, which all work together to produce its healing abilities. The main chemical components are Terpinen-4-ol, Cymene, Pinene, Terpinene, and Cineole. Terpinen-4-ol is present at the highest levels (minimum 30%) and is responsible for most of the antimicrobial activity. High-quality tea tree oil should have a Terpinen-4-ol content of at least 35–40% but a maximum cineole content of 5%. It has to meet the standards of the Australian Tea Tree Oil Industry Association (ATTIA).

Cheaper Tea Tree Oils

Cheap tea tree oil is now sold in health food stores and there are home-made concoctions against molds or bedbugs. More and more cosmetic products, like shampoos, now feature tea tree oil. But this is low-grade tea tree oil made from the residue left after the first pressing of essential oil or imported from China and South-East Asia without any research or quality control. Its effectiveness is much lower while its medicinal smell is stronger – not usable for BioZap.

Only the genuine Australian tea tree oil, whose composition is subject to the strict quality criteria of the Australian government, has been proven effective against molds and germs.

BioZap - the "Tea Tree Oil Air Cleaner"

The BioZap Air Purifier & Deodorizer utilizes genuine Australian Tea Tree Oil. It is mixed in a gel-like foam, which slowly evaporates and releases vapors of the essential oil over several weeks. A couple jars will solve the common problem of a musty basement. Placing a large jar in the suction duct of an air-conditioning system will clean the duct system and prevent the spread of mold and mildew odors through the house.

BioZap Mold & Mildew Cleaner uses the power of Australian Tea Tree Oil to clean molds and mildew stains. BioZap Pre-Soak helps to get rid of stains and smells that detergents cannot.