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Tea Tree Oil Article April 2010 News


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In recognition of foot health month, the status of tea tree oil as an antimicrobial agent is reviewed. Tea tree oil shows great promise as an antifungal and antibacterial product. This includes topical infections of foot and toe nails.

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Tea Tree Oil Article April 2010 News

  1. 1. NMR News: Volume 3, Issue 4, April 2010 Evidence Supporting Usage of Tea Tree Oil for Topical Infections of the Foot and Other Areas is Promising, but Ongoing Research Needed By: Charles Spielholz, Ph.D. T clinical trials indicate that tea tree oil may be he tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is useful for the treatment of certain topical a shrub-like tree native to Australia infections, particularly infections that are where it grows in caused by fungi. However, wet areas. The oil isolated tea tree oil has not been from the leaves of this tree subjected to rigorous by a process of steam clinical trials. A short distillation has been review of the status of the associated, in traditional antimicrobial activity of tea medicine, with tree oil is provided. antimicrobial properties. Questions that need to be Microbial species thought answered through to be sensitive to tea tree appropriate biomedical oil include fungal, research approaches are bacterial, protozoan and also discussed. viral species. Preliminary data and pilot 1
  2. 2. NMR News: Volume 3, Issue 4, April 2010 Fungal infections that are believed to be preliminary clinical trials (4-6). These results susceptible to tea tree oil include those that are very promising and indicate a role for cause athlete's foot (tinea pedis), finger and tea tree oil as an agent for topical infections. toe nail infections (onychomychosis), jock Appropriately designed studies should be itch (tinea cruris), thrush (Candidiasis) as able to establish a systematic approach to well as others. Preliminary studies indicate the use of tea tree oil for topical fungal that tea tree oil infections. has antifungal activity and may There have been be a good several reports in the candidate as a scientific literature topical agent for that show tea tree oil treatment of may be effective fungal infections. against a wide variety Reports in the of bacteria in vitro (7- scientific 9). Most clinical trials literature have shown that tea tree oil has using tea tree oil as a topical antibacterial activity against Candidiasis in vitro (1, 2). In a have mostly centered on acne (10, 11) and preliminary clinical study, tea tree oil was infections in the mouth (12, 13). Gels successfully used to treat toe nail containing tea tree oil designed for the care onychomychosis (3). Tea tree oil was a of teeth have been shown to decrease component of a topical cocktail used in an gingivitis and gum bleeding (14), but did approach to treat athlete's foot in not reduce plaque (14). (Note that tea tree oil 2
  3. 3. NMR News: Volume 3, Issue 4, April 2010 is toxic when ingested and therefore it is not Experiments designed to elucidate recommended that pure tea tree oil be used the mechanism of action of tea tree oil orally). Antibacterial studies using tea tree against both bacteria and fungi indicate that oil are in the early stage and are not as the oil may be disrupting the function of advanced at the antifungal studies; however lipid membranes and causing alterations in results indicate that it is worth pursuing this the transport of potassium ions and the research. metabolism of glucose in respiration (17-22). A basic understanding of an agent’s Very little data has been collected mechanism of action helps support the that shows that tea tree oil has activity clinical observations. against protozoan and viral species. The only work that has been done in this regard The safety and toxicity of tea tree oil is in vitro (15,16); there have been no has not been well studied (23). Tea tree oil is published reports showing that tea tree oil toxic if taken orally. Such toxicity is has anti- protozoan or anti-viral activity in expected of any functional antifungal agent an animal model or similar living system. and will not limit the oils usefulness as a More importantly, there has been no work topical antifungal agent. Indeed, the oil performed on the purported anti- protozoan appears to be safe to use topically, at least or anti-viral activity of tea tree oil in the past when dilute, decade. No significant clinical work has although it has been done using tea tree oil as an anti- been observed protozoan or anti-viral agent. to cause allergic skin reactions 3
  4. 4. NMR News: Volume 3, Issue 4, April 2010 in some individuals. The effect of tea tree oil approach to treating topical infections, on the fetus and in growing children is not especially fungal infections that have known; therefore tea tree oil should not be become resistant to antifungal medications used in children or by pregnant or nursing currently on the market; therefore it is well women. A complete picture of tea tree oil’s worth the effort to complete these studies. adverse will become clear as additional clinical trials are completed. References 1) D'Auria FD, Laino L, Strippoli V, Tecca M, Salvatore G, Evidence indicates that there may be Battinelli L, Mazzanti G. 2001. In vitro activity of tea tree oil against Candida albicans mycelial conversion and other a role for tea tree oil as a topical agent for pathogenic fungi. J Chemother. 13:377-383. fungal and bacterial infections. Additional 2) Ergin A, Arikan S. 2002. Comparison of microdilution and disc diffusion methods in assessing the in vitro activity clinical trials should be able to establish the of fluconazole and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against vaginal Candida isolates. J Chemother. 14:465-472. precise conditions, including which fungal 3) Syed TA, Qureshi ZA, Ali SM, Ahmad S, Ahmad SA. and bacterial species, the optimal dosages, 1999. Treatment of toenail onychomycosis with 2% butenafine and 5% Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil in and the time course of treatment required cream. Trop Med Int Health. 1999. 4:284-287. for maximum efficacy of tea tree oil for 4) Misner BD. 2007. A novel aromatic oil compound inhibits microbial overgrowth on feet: a case study. J Int topical infections. A clear definition of all Soc Sports Nutr. 4:3. adverse effects could also b established. 5) Inouye S, Uchida K, Nishiyama Y, Hasumi Y, Yamaguchi H, Abe S. 2007. Combined effect of heat, essential oils and Such clinical trials would need to be salt on fungicidal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes in a foot bath. Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai designed and carried out before tea tree oil Zasshi. 48:27-36. can be widely recommended for use as a 6) Inouye S, Nishiyama Y, Uchida K, Hasumi Y, Yamaguchi H, Abe S. 2006. The vapor activity of oregano, perilla, tea remedy for topical infections. It appears that tree, lavender, clove, and geranium oils against a Trichophyton mentagrophytes in a closed box. J Infect tea tree oil may have potential as a useful Chemother. 12:349-354. 4
  5. 5. NMR News: Volume 3, Issue 4, April 2010 7) Carson CF, Riley TV. 1993. Antimicrobial activity of the 18) Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, Bell HC, Gustafson JE, essential oil of Malaleuca alternifolia. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. Warmington JR, Wyllie SG. 2000. The mode of 16: 49-55. antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol. 88:170-175. 8) Carson CF, Riley TV. 1995. Antimicrobial activity of the major components of the essential oil of Melaleuca 19) Hada T, Inoue Y, Shiraishi A, Hamashima H. 2003. alternifolia. J Appl Bacteriol. 78:264-269. Leakage of K+ ions from Staphylococcus aureus in response to tea tree oil. J Microbiol Methods. 53:309-312. 9) Carson CF, Cookson BD, Farrelly HD, Riley TV. 1995. Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus 20) Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. 2004. Antifungal aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its Antimicrob Chemother. 35:421-424. components on Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J Antimicrob 10) Bowe WP, Shalita AR. 2008. Effective over-the-counter Chemother.53:1081-1085. acne treatments. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 27:170-176. 21) Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, Bell HC, Gustafson JE, 11) Martin KW, Ernst E. 2003. Herbal medicines for Warmington JR, Wyllie SG. 2000. The mode of treatment of bacterial infections: a review of controlled antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca clinical trials. J Antimicrob Chemother.51:241-246. alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol. 88:170-175. 12) Arweiler NB, Donos N, Netuschil L, Reich E, Sculean A. 22) Inouye S, Watanabe M, Nishiyama Y, Takeo K, Akao M, 2000. Clinical and antibacterial effect of tea tree oil--a pilot Yamaguchi H. 1998. Antisporulating and respiration- study. Clin Oral Investig. 4:70-73. inhibitory effects of essential oils on filamentous fungi. Mycoses. 41:403-410. 13) Groppo FC, Ramacciato JC, Simoes RP, Florio FM, Sartoratto A. 2002. Antimicrobial activity of garlic, tea tree 23) Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV, Nielsen JB. 2005. A oil, and chlorhexidine against oral microorganisms. Int review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. Dent J. 52:433-437. Food Chem Toxicol. 44:616-625. 14) Soukoulis S, Hirsch R. 2004. The effects of a tea tree oil- containing gel on plaque and chronic gingivitis. Aust Dent J. 49:78-83. 15) Mikus J, Harkenthal M, Steverding D, Reichling J. 2000. In vitro effect of essential oils and isolated mono- and sesquiterpenes on Leishmania major and Trypanosoma brucei. Planta Med. 66:366-368. 16) Schnitzler P, Schön K, Reichling J. 2001. Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Pharmazie. 56:343-347. 17) Cox SD, Gustafson JE, Mann CM, Markham JL, Liew YC, Hartland RP, Bell HC, Warmington JR, Wyllie SG. 1998. Tea tree oil causes K+ leakage and inhibits respiration in Escherichia coli. Lett Appl Microbiol. 26:355-358. 5