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Tea tree oil

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**Uses of Tea Tree Oil**:
– Limited evidence supports treating dandruff, acne, lice, herpes, insect bites, and skin infections.
– Traditional usage suggests effectiveness for minor wounds, insect bites, and athlete’s foot.
– Not recommended for nail fungus or head lice in children.
– Ineffective for demodex mite infestations.
– A Cochrane review found potential benefits for acne.

**Toxicity and Safety Concerns**:
– Highly toxic if orally ingested, leading to severe symptoms.
– Can cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin.
– Adverse effects include skin irritation and hypersensitivity reactions.
– Oxidized oil should not be used.
– Significant cases of poisoning, especially in children, have been reported in Australia.

**Composition and Characteristics**:
– Key components include terpinen-4-ol, γ-terpinene, and α-terpinene.
– Terpinen-4-ol is the major component in tea tree oil.
– Colorless to pale yellow with a fresh, camphor-like smell.
– Lower eucalyptol content reduces adverse reactions.
– Defined by ISO 4730 as containing specific chemical concentrations.

**History, Extraction, and Research**:
Tea tree oil industry originated in the 1920s in Australia.
– Extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia, with Australia being a major producer.
– Limited corporate interest due to nonproprietary nature.
– Global market size projected to grow significantly.
– Studies have investigated antimicrobial activity, effectiveness, and safety of tea tree oil.

**Medical and Veterinary Applications**:
Tea tree oil used in complementary therapies for acne vulgaris and onychomycosis.
– Explored for treating head lice, Demodex blepharitis, and antimicrobial properties in veterinary medicine.
– Associated with cases of gynecomastia in males and isoniazid-induced gynecomastia.
– Toxicity concerns in pets like dogs and cats, with reports of topical application leading to toxicity and death.

Tea tree oil (Wikipedia)

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil with a fresh, camphoraceous odor and a colour that ranges from pale yellow to nearly colourless and clear. It is derived from the leaves of the tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, native to southeast Queensland and the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. The oil comprises many constituent chemicals, and its composition changes if it is exposed to air and oxidizes. Commercial use of tea tree oil began in the 1920s, pioneered by the entrepreneur Arthur Penfold. As of 2017 the global tea tree oil market was valued at US$39 million.

Origin of this essential oil, the tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia
Tea tree plantation, Coraki, New South Wales

As a traditional medicine, it is typically used as a topical medication in low concentrations for the treatment of skin conditions, but little evidence exists of clinical efficacy.

Tea tree oil is neither a patented product nor an approved drug in the United States, although it is approved as a complementary medicine for aromatherapy in Australia. It is poisonous if consumed by mouth and is unsafe for children.

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