The students of
The Sydney College of Homeopathic Medicine
ALASTAIR GRAY and Dr CAROL PEDERSEN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The choice of this remedy
Methodology Employed in the Proving of Tea Tree
Traditional Use/Modern use
Toxicology of Tea tree
The substance; Tea Tree
Themes from the proving of Tea Tree
Primary Core Symptoms only
The Full Proving Document both Primary and Secondary Symptoms
The Chronology of the Major Provers
15. Thanks and Acknowledgments
Melaleuca Alternifolia (Mel-alt)
Dr Carol Pederson
Compiled by :
Pam Sutton and Alastair Gray
Melaleuca alternifolia; Medicinal Tea tree Oil
Tea tree, Paperbark
The choice of this remedy
The medicine for the proving of 2001 at the Sydney College of Homeopathic Medicine was double blind.
Neither the principal of the college nor myself as co-ordinator of the proving were aware of what the proving
substance was. It was chosen, selected, distributed and prepared by a third party.
2. Methodology of the trial
See the introduction of this book.
The trial was truly double blind in that neither the participants, control group, coordinator, supervisor, or
principal of the college knew the actual substance being proved. It was only unblinded after five weeks of
trialing the medicine.
The medicine selected for proving, Tea Tree, was prepared according to Hahnemannian guidelines as laid
down in the Organon of Medicine. The whole plant was chosen not just the oil, which has the recognised
Julia Twohig and Brauers Biotherapeutics. Thanks to Julia Twohig for having the remedy made, and ensuring
the pharmacy was impeccable. The medicine can be ordered from Brauers Biotherapeutics Tanunda South
There were a total of 23 participants. There were 17 women and 6 men ranging in age from 27 to
58 years. Twelve provers received verum and there were 11 supervisors for those provers.
There were no dropouts from this homeopathic drug proving.
Traditional and modern use of Tea Tree
Medicinal and other
What it’s used for now in cosmetics
The Australian aborigines have used tea tree oil for thousands of years to cure headaches, pain, colds and
also as an insect repellent.
It is generally thought botanist Sir Joseph Banks, on Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour, which landed in
Sydney’s Botany Bay in 1770, named the paperbark trees around the bay “tea trees”; he possibly even drank
a brew made from the leaves.
In 1922 Technological Museum chemist Arthur Penfold documented the oil’s antiseptic qualities in a paper
presented to the Royal Society of New South Wales – rating it far stronger than any of the “medical”
antiseptics of the time. In fact it was found to have a Redealwalker co-efficient of 11-13, meaning tea tree
oil is 11 to 13 times stronger than carbolic acid for killing bacteria and fungi. All this, and it didn’t harm the
Tea tree oil was standard Army-issue during World War II because of its antiseptic qualities, particularly in
the presence of pus and fungi. Athlete’s foot was rife in the damp, dark war conditions but tea tree oil
healed many a soldier’s tinea. During this time, all tea tree oil supplies were commandeered by the
Australian Defence Force and people working within the tea tree industry were exempt from military service!
Not only was it helping heal the front-line wounded, but also the oil was added to machine cutting oils in
munition factories to reduce injury infection rates.
It is generally thought the post-war introduction of new synthetic drugs brought about the demise in the use
of the “medicine kit in a bottle”. However, the Government had a large part to play essentially using up all
available supplies. Hence, with the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, tea tree oil was largely
forgotten and relegated to the folk medicine cabinets – until recently that is, with many people (both
scientists and the general public) rediscovering the benefits of natural remedies.
Since the 1930s there have been many scientific documents presented by various research institutions to
attest to the oil’s efficacy in treating a wide range of conditions – from ringworm and thrush to tonsillitis and
large diabetic ulcers.
In 1985, a study treating Candida albicans, proved the oil’s ability rapidly and successfully to cure the
leucorrhea and vaginal infections.
A comparative study between tea tree oil (5%) and benzoyl peroxide (5%) to treat acne showed the tea tree
oil significantly reduced the lesions and produced fewer unwanted side effects.
After it was discovered in the 1990s that tea tree oil – in concentrations as low as 1% - killed Legionella
bacteria (responsible for causing a type of pneumonia) often transmitted through air conditioning units, tea
tree oil is now dissolved in liquid carbon dioxide and used in these systems to control bacteria and fungi.
4.Toxicology of Tea Tree
The properties of the oil
Adverse reactions and poisonings
Several cases of melaleuca oil poisoning have been documented.
A 17-month-old boy ingested less than 10mls of oil and developed ataxia and drowsiness.
Confusion and inability to walk after ingesting less than 10mls of 100% oil was reported in a 23-month-old
boy. He was asymptomatic within 5 hours of ingestion.
However, there have been several cases of melaleuca oil poisonings in animals when the oil was applied
topically to cats and dogs. Typical physical signs were depression, weakness, difficulty in coordination and
Since 1990 US Patents have been granted to more than 15 treatments containing melaleuca oil.
Tea Tree – the substance
Melaleuca is of Greek origin: mela (black) and leuca (white), which refers to the flaky bark of some species,
revealing blackened lower bark and white upper bark, probably resulting from fire. Alternifolia = alternating
leaves; ternifolia = leaves in 3.
While a few melaleuca species are medium to large-sized trees, most are small to medium shrubs. Peak
flowering time for most species is spring, with the occasional spasmodic flowering out-of-season.
The stamens make more of a visual impact than the small and inconspicuous petals, with the most common
colours being red, pink, mauve, purple and yellow. The flower clusters occur either at branch terminals or in
short spikes along the branches.
After flowering, woody seed capsules develop. These three-celled pods are usually tightly closed unless
stimulated by fire or the plant dies, at which stage the capsules burst open, shedding the small seeds.
Tea tree oil itself is clear, colourless to pale yellow, and has more than 100 constituents, though the main 2
are Terpinen-4-ol (35-40%) and Cineole (2-15%). It is the presence of Terpinen-4-ol which gives the oil its
Though Melaleuca species are found worldwide, the only place where Melaleuca Alternafolia is found naturally
is in a small area of northern New South Wales. They are popular in landscape design in both Australia and
overseas. Range: Australia - New South Wales, Queensland. An evergreen shrub growing to 6m by 4m. It
is hardy to zone 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and
female organs) and are pollinated by insects.
Melaleuca are often found around swamps or along watercourse edges, and also found in open forest,
woodlands or shrublands. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and
requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires
moist soil. Habitats and Possible Locations; Woodland, Sunny Edge.
Melaleuca Alternafolia is the most common species in commercial enterprise and is used extensively in
producing tea tree oil, with the last 10-15 years seeing a significant increase in both commercial operations
and domestic usage. Large commercial plantations produce about 100 tonnes of tea tree oil annually.
It’s been said that thousands of trees will be needed for future harvests, as they have just 1-2% yield by
weight (leaves and branches) after distillation. At more than $60 a kilogram, much of Australia’s tea tree oil
is sold to the United States.
Tea tree oil is used in a wide range of products, particularly personal grooming items, such as hair shampoos
and conditioners, soap, creams, gels, lotions, toothpaste, liniments, balms, insect repellents and germicides.
It’s also hailed as an effective treatment for skin complaints such as acne, impetigo, psoriasis, dandruff and
boils, and has been noted to relieve pain from haemorrhoids, scalds and burns. It is the predominant active
ingredient in many natural head lice treatments and is also known to deter ticks and leeches.
Tea tree oil has many unique properties. It is a broad-spectrum anti-microbial, killing many bacteria,
including some strains of staphylococcus and streptococcus. It does this by damaging the bacteria’s cellular
membrane and subsequently denaturing the cell contents.
The oil has excellent solvent properties, deeply penetrating the skin into infected tissue, acting solely on the
source of infection, and leaving the surface clean and healthy. It dissolves pus and still works effectively in
its presence and also acts as a mild anti-inflammatory.
According to microbiologist Professor Tom Riley and PhD student Christina Carson of the University of
Western Australia, tea tree oil is an extremely effective antiseptic and disinfectant and is useful in treating
acne. There is also limited clinical evidence about its effectiveness at treating vaginal infections.
The other area of growing interest is the oil’s apparent effectiveness in treating the increasing numbers of
hospital-acquired infections due to methicillin-resistant strains of S. aureaus (MRSA).
Professor Riley says despite increasing interest in using tea tree oil therapeutically, the industry suffers
because of a “paucity of information in appropriate peer-reviewed journals”. He says this is the main reason
why the US Government has knocked backed industry submissions to the FDA to register tea tree oil for
over-the-counter sales. He cites one of the main reasons was due to lack of published in vitro efficacy data.
However, the conclusions drawn from published research to date all point to the oil as having significant
antimicrobial activity – albeit in a laboratory setting. Riley points out the next step is to conduct randomized
clinical trials - which though expensive - “the potential benefits to the industry should justify the expense”.
“It has a good future, if managed properly,” Riley says. “Some manufacturers claim it is useful for every type
of complaint, making it sound a bit like snake oil. But with proper research we can confirm its great value for
Dr James Rowe, of Technical Consultancy Services says “unlike antibiotics there is no evidence of genetically-
acquired immunity and the oil is effective in the presence of blood, pus, necrotic tissue and mucous
It is interesting to note the oil’s beneficial components vary considerably between batches, creating
difficulties for scientists to determine its full application potential.
A complex mixture of more than 100 identified components, tea tree oil consists predominately of
monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and terpene alcohols; germicidal effects are mainly due to terpinene-4-ol.
Antimicrobial action increases in line with increased concentrations of terpinene-4-ol; however above 40%,
there appears to be no further measurable increase in antimicrobial activity.
Also important is the oil’s cineole levels, with human skin testing studies showing high levels of cineole which
seem to point to increased skin irritation incidences. The conclusions drawn from these data have major
implications for the industry, says Dr Ian Southwell, who headed this research project.
Dr Southwell says previously oils with a 5-10% cineole component were acceptable, but now buyers want
these levels as low as 5% or even 3%, as the increased levels are associated with increased irritancy.
Oil quality is of great concern, as the varying concentrations of terpinene-4-ol make it difficult to monitor
each batch during production. Other factors to consider include the leaves’ age and time of extraction, the
extraction method itself and the storage conditions.
Pure tea tree oil is a clear, mobile liquid, relatively stable at room temperature, making it easy to determine
whether impurities are present, or the oil has been contaminated by weeds during harvest or during the
It is highly concentrated oil and may cause irritation if used directly on skin undiluted. However, it may be
diluted up to approximately 200-1 and still be effective. As well, there is a low incidence of allergic skin
reactions to tea tree oil. To investigate this further, 200 healthy individuals underwent two different tests
(prick and patch) using 10 tea tree oils to determine the type, ratio and significance of any reactions. The
volunteers were also exposed to other allergens – such as grass and dust-mite - to determine their general
overall allergic response.
Some research conclusions suggest that oxidation of the oil, not the fresh tea tree oil itself, is responsible for
allergic reactions. Oils stored in clear bottles (as opposed to brown bottles) showed marked changes; while
other factors include exposure to heat, light and air.
Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics and it merits a
place in every medicine chest. It is useful for treating stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds.
An essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs is strongly antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant. It
stimulates the immune system and is effective against a broad range of bacterial and fungal infections.
Internally, it is used in the treatment of chronic and some acute infections, notably cystitis, glandular fever
and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is used externally in the treatment of thrush, vaginal infections, acne,
athlete's foot, verrucas, warts, insect bites, cold sores and nits. It is applied neat to verrucas, warts and nits,
but is diluted with a carrier oil such as almond for other uses.
The oil is non-irritant. Another report says that high quality oils contain about 40% terpinen-4-ol, which is
well tolerated by the skin and 5% cineol which is irritant. However, in poor quality oils the levels of cineol can
exceed 10% and in some cases up to 65%.The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is
Other Uses - Essential oil; Wood.
An essential oil is obtained from the leaves. It is strongly germicidal and is also used in dentistry,
deodorants, soaps, mouthwashes etc.
Wood - very durable in wet conditions and in damp ground.
Requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun. Prefers a soil that does not
contain much nitrogen. Plants are shade tolerant and succeed in most soils and aspects except dry conditions
when they are grown in Australian gardens.
This species is not very cold hardy and is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of Britain.
It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°C in Australian gardens but this cannot be translated directly to
British gardens because of our cooler summers and longer, colder and wetter winters.
Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant; the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years.
Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit.
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey
Seed - surface sow in spring or autumn on to a pot of permanently moist soil in a warm greenhouse.
Immerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall then
remove from the water and pot up a week later. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way;
sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygeine are essential for success. Grow the plants on for at least
their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last
expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.
Cuttings of half-ripe lateral shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame.
Melaleuca alternifolia is a member of the Myrtaceae family in company with Callistemons (Bottlebrushes),
Eucalypts and Leptospermums (Tea Trees). There are about 220 Melaleuca species with 215 native to
Australia and the others scattered through New Guinea, Indonesia and South-east Asia. As with many native
plants, Western Australia has the lion’s share of Melaleucas. Many of these western species are outstanding
plants with great horticultural potential.
Melaleuca alternifolia is an eastern species and occurs on the North Coast and adjacent ranges of New South
Wales. It develops into a tall shrub with papery bark and white spring and summer flowers. The common
name, Snow-in-Summer refers to the flowers. Melaleuca alternifolia shares this name with Melaleuca
linariifolia another eastern species.
Melaleuca alternifolia has aromatic foliage and valuable oil is extracted from the leaves. Tea Tree Oil has
great germicidal properties and is used in a range of products. Antiseptics, deodorants, shampoos (for dogs
and humans) and soaps are some of the products incorporating Tea Tree Oil. Large Melaleuca alternifolia
plantations have been established on the North Coast of New South Wales. We are not sure why it is called
Tea Tree Oil, as this is the common name of Leptospermums. Horticulturally speaking, Melaleuca alternifolia
will cope with dry and wet situations. It develops into a tall upright shrub and is covered in white flowers in
the warmer months. A wide range of native insects visits the flowers. The papery bark is another feature. It
is propagated from seed from cuttings. Its close cousin is the Manuka in New Zealand
THEMES FROM THE PROVING OF TEA TREE
What is there
Nose and cold symptoms
What is not there
No Male symptoms
Tea Tree cured
shame, guilt, ashamed feeling and depression