Tea Tree Oil: First Aid from the "Healing Tree"

Nov 1, 1993

We received a surprising number of answers to our editorial question "Does anyone know what a Tea Tree is?" Because of both the quantity and quality of the letters we received, we have reprinted the most interesting and informative (or funny) responses. We extend our thanks to everyone who wrote us about Tea Trees.

The Gardener's View

A very good friend of my younger brother forwarded my address to you folks for a sample of your educational publication which I have found to be extremely valuable.

In the August edition, Laura B. Lyons submitted an interesting letter to you folks about a certain botanical plant which she found to be extremely beneficial in the abolishing of lancet scars on her finger tips. Please find enclosed information about this plant (if someone else has not already done so).

Darwin L. Babcock
Bieber, CA

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Excerpted from the Sunset New Western Garden Book, December 1986:

Tea Tree: Leptospermum; may take on the form of either an evergreen tree, a shrub, or a ground-cover originating in Australia and New Zealand (grown in Sunset zones 14 through 21). Due to its branching habit, this plant is neither rigid nor formal in its stature. Used as an all season landscape plant producing a profusion of white, pink, or red single flowers (depending on species (18)) in Spring in the shape of miniature roses. This plant grows best in full sun, good soil with good drainage that's low in alkali, and good irrigation when first transplanted (requiring less as plant becomes established). Leaves first used by Captain Cook as a medicine against scurvy after being brewed for use by his ships' crew.

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Family Ties

Your July issue of DIABETES HEALTH is the first issue I have seen and find it very interesting and informative. As a diabetes educator and also type 2 diabetic, my life is involved with diabetes on several levels.

You asked what Tea Tree oil is and where to find it. It is a very effective organic healing oil used in products made by the Melaleuka company, such as hand and body lotion, skin cleansing, and other products. I use it on my feet every day for foot care.

My daughter-in-law is an experienced user and distributor of the Melaleuka line of products and can be a resource and supplier for Tea Tree oil. She has literature explaining the products as well as all the information on ordering them.

Contact: Renee Lewicki
Rt. 3 Box #117
Westby, WI 54667
608-634-2395

Donna Lewicki, RN, CDE
Elmhurst, IL

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New Product

In your recent issue I noticed a letter to the editor discussing some unique properties of Tea Tree Oil. We at Can-Am Care have just introduced a skin cream called "Just for Fingers" which includes Australian Tea Tree Oil.

Australian Tea Tree Oil, derived from the Tea Tree, has been used for centuries by aborigines. They refer to it as the "healing tree." During World War II, the reliability and effectiveness of this natural antiseptic made it a standard issue to the Australian armed forces. As you know, modern synthetic drugs and antibiotics now have replaced this natural and more expensive product.

However, the unique characteristics of Tea Tree Oil, when combined with a cream, give some outstanding properties for diabetic patients. Can-Am Care is a manufacturer of lancets and we understand the side effects of the lancing process. That is why we researched and developed this new finger cream.

"Just for Fingers" cream is uniquely formulated to moisten, soothe, and heal dry, cracked, and calloused fingers. Australian Tea Tree Oil's organic nature allows the cream to penetrate quickly without any oily residue.

Australian Tea Tree oil is very expensive, however we have tried to keep our costs in line with the needs of today's diabetic patients. Therefore, our "Just for Fingers" cream retails at approximately 50% less than other well-known "Finger Care" creams.

If your subscribers need any additional information, they can call our customer service staff at 800-461-7448.

Herb Cover
Executive Vice President
Can-Am Care Corporation
Simi Valley, CA

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The Healthy View

I happened to read your request about Tea Tree oil, and I had just read the article I enclosed. I get The Healthy Cell News, put out by AVL publishers. They sell vitamins, but have some interesting articles also. The address on the paper is 16508 E. Loser Dr. Suite 104, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268, 1-800-624-7114. I hope this helps.

PS: I like your newspaper, its very informative. Keep up the good work.

Pam Thada
San Diego, CA

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Excerpted from the article "Tea Tree Oil: First Aid In A Bottle," page 3, The Healthy Cell News, August 1993 issue:

Melaleuca Alternifolia-Australia's "Tea Tree."

The oil from the leaves of the Tea Tree is made up of forty-eight unique, organic compounds, some of which have never been found in nature, so names had to be created. It appears that all forty-eight of these special compounds work in synergy to produce an essential oil that has antiseptic and fungicidal properties. The oil color may vary from colorless to pale yellow. The aroma is pungent and resembles eucalyptus.

The two most important chemical compounds found in Tea Tree oil are terpinen-4-ol and cineole. If the cineole content is above 15%, it will become caustic to the skin. In reality, cineole should be 5% or less. Terpinen-4-ol should be above 30%; in fact, the higher the better, since this compound contains the more active healing properties.

Tea Tree oil reached its peak of popularity during World War II, when it was considered a necessary commodity and became standard issue in the first aid kits of Australian soldiers and was widely used in their field hospitals. The confiscation of all Tea Tree oil supplies by the Australian government successfully removed it from the marketplace for the duration of the war. This occurrence, combined with the discovery of such "wonder drugs" as sulpha and penicillin, eventually pushed Tea Tree oil into obscurity.

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Old Texts

Excerpted from the section titled "Oil of Cajuput," page 182, United States Dispensatory, Osol-Farrar, Vol. 1, 1950 edition, Clippincott:

"From the leaves and terminal branches of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel, of New South Wales, is obtained a volatile oil commercially known as tea-tree oil and Australian tea-tree oil. It contains from 6 to 8 per cent of cineol, 50 to 60 per cent of terpenes, and some terpineol. It is actively germicidal, its phenol coefficient being from 11 to 13."

"The oil...is a colorless or greenish liquid with an agreeable camphoraceous odor and a bitter aromatic taste.

"Its most frequent uses...are externally in the treatment of various skin diseases. For this latter group of affections it is used for its anti-parasitic effect in such diseases as scabies, tinea versicolor, etc., and for its stimulating action in acne rosacea, psoriasis, and other chronic conditions."

Here is information about Tea Tree Oil from one of my old college texts.

Howard A. Knutson, RPh
Louisville, KY

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Categories: Diabetes, Skin Care, Type 2 Issues


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