For centuries aboriginal Austrailians relied on the leaves of the tea ree to fight infections. Today tea tree oil is valued throughout the world as a potent antiseptic, and scientists have confirmed its powerful ability to combat harmful bacteria and fungal infections.
What it is
A championinfection fighter, tea tree oil has a pleasant nutmeg-like scent. It comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, or the tea tree, a species that grows only in Austrailia (and is completely different from the species of Camellia used to make black, oolong and green drinking teas). Extracted through a steam-distillation process, quality tea tree oil contains at least 40% terpinen-4-ol - the active ingredient responsible for its healing effects - and less than 5% cineole, a substance that causes skin irritation if too much is present. With the rise of antibiotics after the second world war, tea tree oil fell out of favour. Recently interest in it has revived, and more than 700 tonnes are now produced annually.
For acknowledgement, see our Supplement Guide, section 3.
Some associated supplements (not a definitive list):