Tea-tree (Melaleuca) – Benefits and Dosage

tea tree

Tea Tree Benefits

The virtues antiseptics, antibacterials, antimicrobials, antivirals and antifungals of the essential oil of Tea Tree are no doubt in the minds of experts medicinal plants. Despite the small number of published clinical trials, many in vitro and in vivo realize it.

For example, multiple trials in vitro indicate that melaleuca essential oil has a antifungal activity broad spectrum. Although there are clinical studies indicating that it may be useful in treating such infections in humans, many of these trials have methodological weaknesses.

Athlete’s foot

There are 2 tests of reasonable quality in the case of this infection caused by the fungus Tinea pedis. A cream containing 10% melaleuca essential oil was tested in a trial on 104 subjects with athlete’s foot: it was more effective than a placebo and as effective as a cream containing 1% tolnaftate for relieve symptoms. However, tolnaftate has been shown to be much more effective than melaleuca in eliminating the fungus.

Another double-blind placebo trial was conducted on 158 subjects: 25% and 50% solutions of melaleuca essential oil cleared the infection significantly more effectively than a placebo. Active treatment and placebo were applied twice a day for 4 weeks. However, these same solutions do not seem to be as effective as standard treatments such as clotrimazole or terbinafine (Martin).


In a single-blind trial of 124 acne sufferers, a gel containing 5% essential oil was as effective as a conventional anti-acne medication containing 5% benzoyl peroxide. The effects of melaleuca took longer to appear, but the essential oil led to fewer side effects than treatment with peroxide (redness, scaling, itching, etc.). In a more recent trial on 60 subjects, the application of melaleuca essential oil (25% in a base of sweet almond oil; twice a day for 45 days) was significantly more effective than a placebo gel. for reduce the number of lesions acne and their severity. However, clinical data remain insufficient to conclude that melaleuca essential oil is effective in treating this skin condition, due to their poor methodological quality.

Onychomycosis (nail infection with a fungus)

100% melaleuca essential oil applied topically for 6 months was as effective as clotrimazole (117 subjects). Symptoms decrease in approximately 60% of patients after 6 months of treatment. A cream containing butenafine and melaleuca essential oil was more effective than a placebo at treating onychomycosis in a trial of 60 subjects treated for 4 months.

Uncertain effectiveness

  • Dandruff. In a clinical trial with 126 subjects, a 5% essential oil preparation was more effective than a placebo at fighting dandruff.
  • Head lice and mites. Two small studies indicate that melaleuca essential oil alone or in combination with lavender seems as active or more active than conventional treatments for prevent or treat lice in humans. Datas in vitro confirm its insecticidal action against Pediculus humanus capitis, the scientific name of the famous head louse.

Tea Tree essential oil is also said to be effective against a small mite (moth) which lodges in the eyelash follicles (Demodex folliculorum).

  • Bad breath. The effects of chlorhexidine, garlic and melaleuca essential oil were compared in a study of 30 subjects. The results showed that a solution containing 0.2% essential oil could play the role of a oral antiseptic broad spectrum. Another trial was conducted in South Korea with 32 subjects treated in intensive care. A mouthwash made with melaleuca, peppermint and lemon essential oils was more effective than a conventional oral solution (benzydamine hydrochloride) in reducing participants’ bad breath.
  • Gingivitis. Two clinical trials indicate that topical use of a gel containing melaleuca essential oil (1.5% to 2.5%) can reduce plaque and gingivitis symptoms. However, this reducing effect on dental plaque has not been reported in another study (Arweiler).
  • Contact dermatitis.Two preliminary studies suggest that melaleuca essential oil (20% to 50%) reduces allergic contact dermatitis (or exema) to nickel, compared to a placebo (Pearce, Walengren).
  • Skin and mucous membrane disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes the topical use of melaleuca essential oil to relieve the symptoms of various common conditions of the skin and mucous membranes: acne, athlete’s foot, bromidrosis (generalized or localized foul-smelling sweat), boils and onychomycosis, as well as the vaginitis, the cystitis and cervicitis (inflammation of infectious origin of the cervix).
  • Vaginal infections. Multiple tests in vitro have established the germicidal action of the essential oil on several classic pathogens of vaginal environment, especially Trichomonas vaginalis and Candida albicans, but reliable clinical trials are missing. A series of case studies of 130 women was published in 1962. According to the author, treatment with melaleuca was as effective as vaginal suppositories containing a synthetic germicide. Treatment consisted of douching with a 1% essential oil solution and vaginal tampons soaked in a 20% solution, kept in place for 24 hours. A case study published in 1991 reported that a patient, who refused conventional metronidazole treatment, had successfully treated her bacterial vaginitis with tampons soaked in melaleuca essential oil.
  • Thrush (oral thrush). Results of a trial of 27 AIDS patients suffering from thrush indicate that an essential oil solution, with or without alcohol, can stop or reduce this oral fungal infection. During a trial in vitro, British researchers exposed melaleuca essential oil to yeasts taken from cancer patients suffering from oral candidiasis. The 301 samples tested were all sensitive to this treatment, including the 41 which contained yeasts resistant to conventional treatments based on fluconazole and itraconazole.
  • Staphylococcus aureus infection. Tests in vitro have shown that melaleuca oil has been more effective than conventional topical antibiotics in fighting staph infections, including methicillin-resistant strains. A clinical trial was carried out on 20 hospitalized patients infected with a methicillin-resistant strain of staphylococcus aureus: a nasal ointment containing 4% melaleuca essential oil and a body soap containing 5% were slightly more effective than conventional medical treatment (mupirocin and triclosan).
  • Genital herpes. In a single-blind trial of 18 people with cold sores, melaleuca essential oil treatment was slightly better than placebo, but the difference was not statistically significant.
  • Cystitis (urinary tract infection). Results of a preliminary trial (not published in Medline) indicate that an oral treatment for 6 months (8 mg of melaleuca essential oil in a capsule that dissolves in the intestine) would be effective against chronic cystitis caused by coliforms.


Tea Tree dosage

External use

Essential oil melaleuca, also called melaleuque, tea tree or tea tree, is sold pure (100% essential oil) or diluted in varying quantities in various products: lotions, creams, ointments, shampoos, tampons or vaginal suppositories. Continue the applications until the problem to be treated disappears.
Note. Melaleuca essential oil can be irritating: test a small portion of skin before starting treatment and dilute it in a little vegetable oil if necessary.

Skin infections

  • Apply pure essential oil on the affected parts, several times a day.


  • Apply a lotion or cream containing 5% to 15% essential oil on the acne affected areas, 2 to 3 times a day.

Fungal (fungal) infections: athlete’s foot, thrush (oral thrush), onychomycosis, etc.

  • Apply pure essential oil or a preparation containing at least 70% on the affected parts, 2 to 3 times a day. Warning, while treating thrush, do not swallow the essential oil.

Vaginal infections

  • They are treated by douching, suppositories or pessaries containing 1% to 40% essential oil. Apply 1 to 3 times a day.

Internal use

Usage internal essential oil melaleuca must be done under the supervision of a duly trained aromatherapist.



  • The internal use of melaleuca essential oil must be done under the supervision of a aromatherapist duly trained.
  • Topical application of essential oil from melaleuca can trigger skin reactions in people with allergies. It is advisable to first test on a small area of ​​the skin before applying the essential oil to the area to be treated. There have been several reports of allergic reactions (dermatosis) clearly attributed to tea tree oil. This contains in particular eucalyptol.


  • The people allergic with melaleuca or other members of the myrtaceae family (eucalyptus, myrtle).

Side effects

  • In 2007, American researchers reported a case of excessive development of mammary glands (gynecomastia) in a boy who regularly used shampoo and hair gel containing essential oil of melaleuca and lavender. The causal link has not, however, been established beyond any doubt.
  • Ingestion of the oil, even in small quantities, can cause serious neurological damage in young children (ataxia, motor disorders, stupor). Keep out of the reach of children.

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