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Editor’s note: These are a sampling of the abstracts from published scientific studies regarding the anti-microbial efficacy of Tea Tree essential oil. It is pointed out that terpinen-4-ol is the primary anti-microbial component of the oil; the cineol does not have a significant anti-microbial effect. However, cineol is a well-regarded decongestant, a fact which implies the broad range of therapeutic possibilities for tea tree essential oil.
Study: Antimicrobial effects of tea-tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes.
Raman A, Weir U, Bloomfield SF.Department of Pharmacy, King’s College London, UK.
Major components of two tea-tree oil samples were identified using thin layer and gas-liquid chromatography (TLC and GLC). Using a TLC-bioautographic technique, the tea-tree oils, terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol and alpha-pinene were found to be active against Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes whereas cineole was inactive against these organisms. The MIC values of the three active compounds increased in the order alpha-terpineol < terpinen-4-ol < alpha-pinene for all three micro-organisms. MIC values of the tea-tree oils and terpinen-4-ol were lower for P. acnes than for the two staphylococci. This study supports the use of tea-tree oil in the reduction of acne symptoms and demonstrates that terpinen-4-ol is not the sole active constituent of the oil.
Study: In vivo activity of terpinen-4-ol, the main bioactive component of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against azole-susceptible and -resistant human pathogenic Candida species.
Mondello F, De Bernardis F, Girolamo A, Cassone A, Salvatore G.Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immune-mediated Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.
BACKGROUND: Recent investigations on the antifungal properties of essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (Tea Tree Oil, TTO) have been performed with reference to vaginal candidiasis. However, there is a lack of in vivo data supporting in vitro results, especially regarding the antifungal properties of TTO constituents. Thus, the aim of our study was to investigate the in vitro and the in vivo anti-Candida activity of two critical bioactive constituents of TTO, terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole. METHODS: Oophorectomized, pseudoestrus rats under estrogen therapy were used for experimental vaginal infection with azole (fluconazole, itraconazole) -susceptible or -resistant strains of C. albicans. All these strains were preliminarily tested for in vitro susceptibility to TTO, terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole for their antifungal properties, using a modification of the CLSI (formerly NCCLS) reference M27-A2 broth micro-dilution method. RESULTS: In vitro minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC90) values were 0.06% (volume/volume) for terpinen-4-ol and 4% (volume/volume) for 1,8-cineole, regardless of susceptibility or resistance of the strains to fluconazole and itraconazole. Fungicidal concentrations of terpinen-4-ol were equivalent to the candidastatic activity. In the rat vaginal infection model, terpinen-4-ol was as active as TTO in accelerating clearance from the vagina of all Candida strains examined. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that terpinen-4-ol is a likely mediator of the in vitro and in vivo activity of TTO. This is the first in vivo demonstration that terpinen-4-ol could control C. albicans vaginal infections. The purified compound holds promise for the reduction of vaginal candidiasis, and particularly the azole-resistant forms.
Study: In vitro and in vivo activity of tea tree oil against azole-susceptible and -resistant human pathogenic yeasts.
Mondello F, De Bernardis F, Girolamo A, Salvatore G, Cassone A.Laboratory of Bacteriology and Medical Mycology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.
A tea tree oil (TTO) preparation of defined chemical composition was studied, using a microbroth method, for it’s in vitro activity against 115 isolates of Candida albicans, other Candida species and Cryptococcus neoformans. The fungal strains were from HIV-seropositive subjects, or from an established type collection, including reference and quality control strains. Fourteen strains of C. albicans resistant to fluconazole and/or itraconazole were also assessed. The same preparation was also tested in an experimental vaginal infection using fluconazole-itraconazole-susceptible or -resistant strains of C. albicans. TTO was shown to be active in vitro against all tested strains, with MICs ranging from 0.03% (for C. neoformans) to 0.25% (for some strains of C. albicans and other Candida species). Fluconazole- and/or itraconazole-resistant C. albicans isolates had TTO MIC50s and MIC90s of 0.25% and 0.5%, respectively. TTO was highly efficacious in accelerating C. albicans clearance from experimentally infected rat vagina. Three post-challenge doses of TTO (5%) brought about resolution of infection regardless of whether the infecting C. albicans strain was susceptible or resistant to fluconazole. Overall, the use of a reliable animal model of infection has confirmed and extended our data on the therapeutic effectiveness of TTO (tea tree essential oil) against fungi, in particular against C. albicans.
Study: Antibacterial activity of essential oils on the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and measurement of their binding interaction using optical biosensor.
Chung KH, Yang KS, Kim J, Kim JC, Lee KY.Center for Functional Nano Fine Chemicals, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, Korea.
Antibacterial activity of essential oils (Tea tree, Chamomile, Eucalyptus) on Staphylococcus aureus growth was evaluated as well as the essential oil-loaded alginate beads. The binding interactions between the cell and the essential oils were measured using an optical biosensor. The antibacterial activity of the essential oils to the cell was evaluated with their binding interaction and affinity. The antibacterial activity appeared in the order of Tea Tree> Chamomile>Eucalyptus, in comparison of the inhibition effects of the cell growth to the essential oils. The association rate constant and affinity of the cell binding on Tea Tree essential oil were 5.0 x 10(-13) ml/(CFU-s) and 5.0 x 10(5) ml/CFU, respectively. The affinity of the cell binding on Tea Tree was about twice higher than those on the other essential oils. It might be possible that an effective antibacterial activity of Tea Tree essential oil was derived from its strong adhesive ability to the cell, more so than those of the other essential oils.*