Herb Library: Natural Herbs and Herbal Supplements Directory: Tea Tree Oil


Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil


This fact sheet provides basic information about Tea Tree Oil. There are many plants known as "tea trees," but the species Melaleuca alternifolia is responsible for the "tea tree oil," which has recently gained popularity. Native to Australia, the tea tree is found in coastal areas. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 6 meters tall. Its narrow, 4 cm, "needle-like" leaves release a distinctive aroma when crushed. The fruits grow in clusters, and its white flowers bloom in the summer.

Tea tree oil (TTO) was first used in surgery and dentistry in the mid-1920s. Its healing properties were also used during World War II for skin injuries to those working in munition factories. Tea tree oil's popularity has resurfaced within the last few years with help from promotional campaigns and may be present in soaps, shampoos, and lotions.

Common Names

Tea Tree Oil, Melaleuca Oil

Latin Names

Melaleuca alternifolia

What It Is Used For

  • Tea tree oil has been used mainly for its antimicrobial effects. TTO should only be applied topically. Do not ingest orally.

How It Is Used

The amount of actual tea tree oil in various marketed preparations can range anywhere from 1 to 100. Often, the stronger products are used for hard-to-treat infections such as toenail fungus, while 5 to 10 tea tree oil gels have been used successfully to treat acne.

Commonly used dosages and durations include:
  • For treating fungal infections of fingernails or toenails use 100 tea tree oil twice a day for 6 months
  • For treating athlete's foot use 10 tea tree oil twice daily for up to one month
  • For acne use 5 to 10 tea tree oil once a day indefinitely
  • For oral candidiasis use one tablespoonful of 5 tea tree oil solution as a mouth wash taken up to 4 times a day. (Make sure to spit out)

What the Science Says

  • Research reveals no animal data regarding the use of tea tree oil as an antimicrobial.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.


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