Find out all about the origins of tea tree oil!
On this page I'll briefly go through everything I know about tea tree oil's history and origins.
Melaleuca Alternifolia originates in New South Wales Australia, where the Bundjalung have been using the leaves to heal themselves of a variety of ailments for the longest time.
They would boil the leaves to drink, or apply crushed leaves to their wounds. They would also bathe in a lagoon where M. Alternifolia leaves had fallen and macerated so as to heal their bodies.
Captain James Cook is the man who coined the Melaleuca Alternifolia as « Tea Tree ». He did this because the Australian Bundjalung people would boil the leaves and drink the brew for its healing properties. Although this plant has nothing to do with actual tea leaves form the plant Camellia Sinensis.
Later, in the 1920’s, Dr. Penfold studied the M. Alternifolia plant and discovered that the essential oil that was obtained from distilling the leaves, was 11+ times more antimicrobial than the leading antiseptic at the time; Phenol (carbolic acid).
One of the great advantages over Phenol, besides being 11 times more powerful, was that it wasn’t toxic. BIG PLUS!
During World War II, the efficiency of Melaleuca Oil was so well trusted that it was issued to the Australian soldiers as an essential part of their first aid kits.
After World War II though, it seemed to be pushed aside. Antibiotics were developed that were more efficient and natural remedies were getting a bad reputation. So for a while, people weren't mentioning tea tree oil.
In the 70’s, however, natural products were once again getting attention and Melaleuca Oil resurfaced.
More recently with MRSA (Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) a new interest is developing towards tea tree oil and its potential for curing antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Now you can find it in just about any kind of product, ranging from Shampoos to cleaners and floss.
Sadly, not everyone who produces Melaleuca Oil does so with quality in mind. The Australian government has established minimum requirements of purity for Melaleuca Oil. You can read more about that
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Find out about what skin conditions can be treated with Melaleuca oil