Despite export it to other countries. Tea tree oil

Despite advances in modern technologies,
the healthcare industry is continuously challenged with the threat of microbial
infections. The overuse of antibiotics has further escalated this problem, resulting
in the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Efforts to
develop new methods for controlling microbial infections are extremely
important. Accordingly, essential oils such as tea tree oil have emerged as novel,
viable, and safe options for the treatment, and/or eradication of these
microbes. Tea tree oil components are discussed in terms of current uses and future
potential as antimicrobials. They have been around for thousands of years and
used well before any modern medicine was around. The review also presents some
safety concerns to ensure safe and effective exploitation of essential oils in the





We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now


Tea tree oil is a popular essential oil used mostly for
its strong antimicrobial characteristics. It is volatile as an essential oil, and
it is sourced from an Australian plant called Melaleuca alternifolia. It is widely used to treat a number of
different conditions. Tea tree
oil (TTO) is most commonly associated with skin conditions such as acne, which
is caused by a bacterium known as Propionibacterium
acnes. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat this condition however
there are now antibiotic resistant strains present (Coates et al. 2002).

Tea Tree Oil first became known to the western world in around
1732. It was discovered by Captain James Cook when he arrived in Australia. He discovered
a spicy and refreshing tea from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree. It was from this that the plant became
known as “tea tree”. The native Australians at the time used it to treat skin
infections and wounds. When James Cook realised this he returned with a sample
of the plant and had a doctor test it for its healing properties. The doctor
confirmed that it had a powerful antiseptic characteristic. Shortly after this,
the use of TTO expanded, and it is now well-known worldwide as a non-synthetic antimicrobial
(Halcon et al. 2003).Australia is the only country where the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree grows therefore
they must export it to other countries.

Tea tree oil is made up of many different chemical
components which give it its antiseptic powers. The four main chemical
components of tea tree oil would be as follows; Terpinen-4-ol, ?-Terpinene, ?-Terpinene
and Terpinolene. Some other components include ?-Terpineol, ?-Pinene, Limonene
and ?-Cymene. There are approximately 98 different components which can be
present in tea tree essential oil. The concentrations of these components vary
from oil to oil. However there are certain standards put in place by the
Australian and International Standards Organizations to ensure quality of oil
i.e. a minimum and maximum concentration range for each component (Halcon et
al.2003). Tea tree oil can come in six different chemical combinations. There
is a terpinen-4-ol type which is the one that is commercially produced, a
terpinolene type, and four 1, 8-cineole types.

As I’ve already mentioned, the natural antimicrobial
effects of tea tree oil are well recognized worldwide. In recent decades
natural and alternative remedies are becoming more and more popular. This
review compiles current developments in the acceptance of the antimicrobial power
of TTO and its components, as well as clinical efficiency. Specific mechanisms
of antimicrobial action are reviewed and analysed, mainly with regards to skin
bacteria to see if it could be used to replace traditional treatment methods of
antibiotics and harsh chemicals.





TTO shows antimicrobial action against a large range of
Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts and fungi (Kulik et al.2000). However
it usually is more active to
Gram-positive than to Gram-negative bacteria. The microbes that will be focused
on in this review are two gram positive microbes that affect the skin, Propionibacterium acnes and
methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) .We will also look at the fungus athlete’s foot.

Tea-tree oil is a popular component of skin preparations,
and a number of its suggested uses imply an anti-microbial effect (Drury 1991).
Tea-tree oil is recommended for the treatment of acne vulgaris. A study comparing
a tea-tree oil gel to benzoyl peroxide lotion demonstrated the efficacy of the
oil for treating this condition (Bassett et al. 1990). Propionibacterium acnes
and coagulase-negative staphylococci have been implicated in the pathogenesis of
acne vulgaris (Shanson 1989), and it is possible that the oil works by
eradicating these microorganisms from acne lesions. Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes)
colonize the skin and hair follicles. They are oxygen-tolerant, anaerobic
bacteria that prefer to grow in low oxygen environments. They can develop
sticky lumps known as biofilms that help them to attach to surfaces and adjust
their surroundings
( In many
situations, bacterial biofilms have been proven to add to long term infections,
and could help with the perseverance of P.
acnes infection in some individuals. As they are gram positive microbes they
have bulky cell walls that aid with shielding them from their surroundings. Still
these thick cell walls let hydrophobic particles pierce the cells without any
difficulty and move through the cell wall and inside the cytoplasm. Phenolic compounds
work this way and they are present in TTO, showing antimicrobial action against
Gram-positive bacteria such as P.acnes (Nazzaro
et al. 2013).

There are lots of other gram-positive bacteria that create
infections, such as MRSA. MRSA is a major cause of hospital infections and is
becoming increasingly difficult to combat as is it becoming resistant to all
current classes of antibiotics. Approximately 30% of burn wounds become
colonized by MRSA in hospitals. Alternative therapies are being sought for the
treatment of MRSA and essential oils are of particular interest. TTO is proven
to be effective in treating this antibiotic resistant strain of Staphylococcus; however there are
concerns over its toxicity. Even though essential oils are well known for being
antimicrobial, they are very rarely used by medical professionals. This is
mainly because of lack of scientific evidence regarding efficacy. Additionally
common medical care is extremely extensively accessible. Edwards-Jones et al. 2004
conducted a study trying to prove the efficacy of essential oils as
antimicrobial agents. The five oils used in the experiment that was carried out
were tea tree, lavender, geranium, patchouli and citricidal. TTO had the
highest clearing zone when placed in direct contact with two different strains
of Staphylococcus aureus one being
the methicillin resistant strain. Essential oils clearly work, so why aren’t
they being used to treat these bacteria? There is great potential for the use of
essential oils as natural antibiotics to control infections, especially
infections of the skin and to control antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
If there is no research done into new antibiotics, by the year 2050 a person
will die every three seconds from a bacterial infection (WHO). Seen as no new
antibiotics are being discovered it is time to start looking at natural
alternatives and for funding to be put into researching essential oils in more

As well as being antibacterial, TTO is also known for its
antifungal properties. TTO is well known to be effective in controlling the
fungi that make up athletes foot. Athlete’s foot is generated
from Tinea pedis. It is a fungal
disease that for the most part starts among the toes. It is often found in
people whose feet have come to be really moist from perspiration while enclosed
inside tightfitting shoes. It is infectious and can be disseminated through
infected floors, towels or clothing. In a 1972 study done on various foot
problems, Dr. Walker used tea tree oil in three different formulas to try
combating these problems. To start was unmixed oil, secondly was a mixture of 40%
oil with 10% isopropyl alcohol. This was known as Melasol. Third was 8% oil
with lanolin and chlorophyll and this was in ointment form. 60 people took part
in the experiment. 40 took Melasol, 20 used the ointment and 8 applied the unmixed
oil. The medical care changed from three weeks to four years. Of 68 patients,
58 got alleviation from their foot ailments over a time frame of 6 years. There
are four if not more various fungal diseases associated with athlete’s foot and
each of these show sensitivity to TTO.

Conventional treatments for fungal disease of the nails can
be; debridement which is removing alien materials and impaired tissue, and
topical treatment. This review evaluated the effectiveness of topical treatments
of 1% clotrimazole solution in comparison with 100% TTO for treating of Tinea unguium which is a fungal
infection of the toenail. In a 6 month
double-blind, multicentre, randomised, controlled trial of 117 people with
a Tinea unguium
infection, patients got twice-daily
treatments of either 1% clotrimazole (CL) solution, which is topical antifungal
drug medication, or 100% (TTO). Debridement and clinical evaluation were carried
out at 0, 1, 3 and 6 months. Samples were taken at 0 and 6 months. After 6
months, the both factions were compared based on culture cure (CL=11%,
TTO=18%). Three months on, almost half of both factions stated that they had
persistent positive progress. The conclusion was, even though all ongoing treatments
have high reoccurring percentages, using a topical application along with
debridement is a good treatment to start with. Topical treatment, with regards
to the previous two concoctions, provides benefit in how the nail looks and any
symptoms associated with it, while oral treatment has the limitation of expense
and possible severe negative effects. This experiment supported the requirement
to use a strong (in this case 100%) concentration of TTO to achieve improved short-term
and long-term efficiency. In children and people with sensitive skin, a 70%
solution may be superior.




In Vitro


A study done by
Walton et al in 2004 attempted to show the In Vitro Sensitivity of Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis to
Terpinen-4-ol. The experiment went as follows. The parts of TTO known as; terpinen-4-ol,
terpineol, and 1,8-cineole were utilized in vitro at concentrations equal to
those in 5% TTO.Terpinen-4-ol makes up 42% of TTO and was utuilzed at a
concentration of 2.1%, terpineol makes up 3% of TTO and was utilized at a
concentration of 0.15%, and 1,8- cineole makes up 2% of TTO and was utilized at
a concentration of 0.1%.Also, mites were shown to all 3 parts of TTO in a
combined mix and to 5% TTO directly also. An ivermectin solution of 100 µg/g
was also used for comparison as well as Emulsifying Ointment. The 5% TTO and active component terpinen-4-ol
were effective in reducing mite survival times. Mathematically relevant dissimilarity’s
in mite survival graphs were noticed for 5% TTO, terpinen-4-ol, and ivermectin
compared to the control which was Emulsifying Ointment. Variability was
observed in survival rates amongst each part of TTO. 85%of the mites had
deceased after 1 hour when shown to 2.1% terpinen-4-ol.