Age-old rem­edy

Tea tree has been used for cen­turies by the abo­rig­i­nal tribes be­fore it was re­dis­cov­ered and pack­aged as a cure-all for mi­nor ail­ments.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By MA­JORIE CHIEW

NOT all tea tree oils are the same. The oil of the pa­per­bark tree species Me­laleuca al­terni­fo­lia is one of the most re­searched and sci­en­tif­i­cally proven ther­a­peu­tic oils known to­day.

This va­ri­ety of tea tree has been used for cen­turies as a gen­eral an­ti­sep­tic by the abo­rig­i­nal tribes (who called it yuk pooy) for heal­ing cuts, burns and skin in­fec­tions.

In 1777, Cap­tain Cook wrote in his jour­nal of the “tea plants of the South Pa­cific” which he brewed for their spicy and re­fresh­ing drink. That was how tea trees got their com­mon name.

There are about 300 va­ri­eties of tea trees but Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion in Bal­lina, New South Wales, grows the species Me­laleuca al­terni­fo­lia that is na­tive to Aus­tralia.

In Aus­tralia, the main tea tree grow­ing area is in the far north coast of New South Wales. Smaller quan­ti­ties are grown a short dis­tance south on the mid-north coast and also in far north Queens­land near Ma­reeba.

“Mod­ern re­search has sci­en­tif­i­cally proven tea tree oil’s pow­er­ful abil­ity to in­hibit mi­cro-or­gan­isms. A min­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion of 2% is re­quired to in­hibit the growth of many types of mi­crobes,” said Mor­gan Bell, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing man­ager (re­tail brands), In­te­gria Health­care.

Tea tree oil con­tains a ger­mi­ci­dal ac­tive, Ter­pinen-4-ol, which is mainly re­spon­si­ble for its an­tibac­te­rial and anti-fun­gal prop­er­ties.

The Ter­pinen-4-ol va­ri­ety (or chemo­type) of tea tree ( Me­laleuca al­terni­fo­lia species) typ­i­cally con­tains more than 30% Ter­pinen4-ol and is the va­ri­ety used in com­mer­cial tea tree oil pro­duc­tion.

As­soc Prof Dr Reg Lehmann, gen­eral man­ager of R&D at In­te­gria, said: “Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion 100% pure tea tree oil is a nat­u­ral an­ti­sep­tic and con­tains no less than 36% Ter­pinen-4-ol. This ex­ceeds the min­i­mum spec­i­fi­ca­tion of Ter­pinen4-ol set by Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards by at least 20%.” It is also low in para-cymene con­tent to min­imise skin ir­ri­ta­tion.

Dr Lehmann also cited that the oil’s high ef­fi­cacy is its clin­i­cally MANY Aus­tralians “grow up” with Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion, Aus­tralia’s orig­i­nal tea tree oil com­pany that was es­tab­lished in 1976.

“You can find tea tree oil and eu­ca­lyp­tus oil in the medicine cupboards of many Aus­tralian homes,” said Johan du Toit, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of In­te­gria Health­care Pty Ltd, a leader in nat­u­ral health­care.

In­te­gria is also the hold­ing com­pany for the group’s nat­u­ral health­care brands, plan­ta­tions, man­u­fac­tur­ing plants and net­work of dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres.

“Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion (which is part of In­te­gria) has three ma­jor com­peti­tors in Aus­tralia but it is the biggest man­u­fac­turer of tea tree oil prod­ucts,” said du Toit, 60.

Some 20% of In­te­gria’s sales comes from Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion. To date, the brand is in more than 30 coun­tries. It has a to­tal of 41 ther­a­peu­tic and per­sonal care prod­ucts, of which 36 are tea tree-based.

In go­ing or­ganic last year, se­lected prod­ucts have un­der­gone re­for­mu­la­tions (with nat­u­rally de­rived in­gre­di­ents) and a change in pack­ag­ing.

Cur­rently, the brand has 11 or­ganic hair­care and per­sonal care prod­ucts.

In North Amer­ica, du Toit said the brand’s fast-sell­ing prod­ucts are from the hair­care, skin­care and acne range.

In Asia, Hong Kong is one of the strong­est mar­kets with an­nual sales of 40,000 bot­tles of tea tree oil and 45,000 tubes of tea tree blem­ish gel for acne, said Ng Ka Keong, gen­eral man­ager of in­ter­na­tional sales proven ef­fec­tive­ness against Golden Staph, a peni­cillin-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria.

Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion man­u­fac­tures and ex­ports hair­care prod­ucts, soaps, throat lozenges, tooth­paste, cos­met­ics, cold sore creams, per­sonal in­sect re­pel­lents, de­odor­ants, acne treat­ment, vagi­nal douches, foot sprays and pow­ders.

Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion 100% pure tea tree oil is said to be a mul­ti­pur­pose rem­edy for a myr­iad of bac­te­rial and fun­gal skin ail­ments such as acne, oily skin, blis­ters, sun­burn, ath­lete’s foot, in­sect bites, rashes, dan­druff and other mi­nor wounds and ir­ri­ta­tions.

When us­ing 100% pure tea tree oil, a small per­cent­age of in­di­vidu- als may have al­ler­gic re­sponses re­sult­ing in vary­ing de­grees of skin ir­ri­ta­tion. This can of­ten be elim­i­nated or re­duced by di­lut­ing the con­cen­tra­tion. Tea tree oil is not rec­om­mended for in­ter­nal use.

For up to 40,000 years, the Aus­tralian Abo­rig­ines have been har­vest­ing the tea tree for a va­ri­ety of medicines. His­tor­i­cally, they boiled the leaves with ashes to stop the sting and poi­son of cat­fish barb wounds and, to re­lieve con­ges­tion, they in­haled vapours from crushed leaves.

But tea tree oil was re­dis­cov­ered in 1923 by Dr Arthur Penfold (18901980), the lead­ing New South Wales state govern­ment chemist, in­clud­ing Prof Tom Ri­ley from the Tea Tree Oil Re­search Group at the Uni­ver­sity of Western Aus­tralia.

“Last year, we pre­pared a re­view of the safety, ef­fec­tive­ness, qual­ity and his­tor­i­cal uses of tea tree oil which was sub­mit­ted to the Euro­pean Medicines Agency to sup­port an Euro­pean mono­graph on tea tree oil. Next year, there are plans for fur­ther re­search on tea tree oil prod­ucts,” said Arran Bres­lin, qual­ity con­trol lab man­ager of In­te­gria.

Bres­lin ex­plained dur­ing the lab tour that the lab acted as a gate­keeper. It looked at all the raw ma­te­ri­als com­ing in and the fin­ished prod­ucts be­fore they leave the premises.

Herbal drugs are very com­plex and re­quire lots of test­ing. Test­ing meth­ods also have to be so­phis­ti­cated to en­sure qual­ity of fin­ished prod­ucts, said Tanja Briski, as­sis­tant qual­ity con­trol lab man­ager.

“Un­scrupu­lous com­pa­nies buy cheap raw ma­te­ri­als and don’t do testings,” she said.

Low qual­ity raw ma­te­ri­als, she warned, not only have low amounts of ac­tive com­po­nents but may even have harm­ful com­po­nents. In­te­gria, she em­pha­sised, only buys raw ma­te­ri­als from good sup­pli­ers.

Reece Ryan, pro­duc­tion man­ager of In­te­gria, briefed us on the man­u­fac­tur­ing process, while Mor­gan Bell, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing man­ager of re­tail brands, gave a tea tree oil and or­ganic per­sonal care pre­sen­ta­tion. – By Ma­jorieChiew

The Gale En­cy­clo­pe­dia Of Al­ter­na­tive Medicine re­ports that Dr Penfold’s dis­cov­ery spread quickly, and to­day, tea tree oil is read­ily avail­able in health food stores. Ex­tracted by steam dis­til­la­tion, tea tree oil is found in many home reme­dies.

Dur­ing World War II, tea tree oil was in the First Aid kit of Aus­tralian sol­diers as a handy an­ti­sep­tic. The troops also sang praises of tea tree oil’s in­sect re­pel­lent and anti-fun­gal prop­er­ties.

At home, tea tree oil has a range of uses uses – from sham­poo to a rem­edy for smelly feet, for boils, bunions and as a mouth­wash or vagi­nal douche.

When an­tibi­otics were more freely avail­able af­ter the war and hailed as the cure for all dis­eases, tea tree oil be­came largely ig­nored.

It is said that an­tibi­otics have an im­por­tant place in mod­ern medicine for the treat­ment of se­ri­ous in­fec­tions, but they were and still are be­ing overused for the treat­ment of mi­nor ail­ments. Many pathogens have now de­vel­oped re­sis­tance against these drugs.

In the 1970s, in re­sponse to the pro­gres­sive fail­ure of many an­tibi­otics to con­trol re­sis­tant pathogens, there arose a need for a safe, ef­fec­tive and ad­verse-re­ac­tion-free top­i­cal an­ti­sep­tic, and tea tree oil was re­dis­cov­ered. The oil ex­pe­ri­enced a mod­est re­vival in the be­gin­ning as it was then dif­fi­cult to ob­tain and un­re­li­able in sup­ply and qual­ity.

The first com­mer­cial tea tree plan­ta­tion of plant stock se­lected for high qual­ity medic­i­nal oil was set up in 1976 in north-east­ern New South Wales by Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion, which later be­came In­te­gria Health­care Pty Ltd, with state-of-the-art man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties, and chem­i­cal and mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal re­search lab­o­ra­to­ries.

An­ti­sep­tic: ‘Mod­ern re­search has sci­en­tif­i­cally

proven tea tree oil’s pow­er­ful abil­ity to in­hibit mi­cro-or­gan­isms,’ says Mor­gan Bell, here show­ing a flow­er­ing tea tree at Thurs­day Plan­ta­tion in

Bal­lina, New South Wales, Aus­tralia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.