Understanding the unique composition of Australian Tea Tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil which, when used topically, displays beneficial antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Authentic tea tree oil is distilled from the native Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia. There is concern, however, that current authentication standards cannot detect if a tea tree oil product has been adulterated with synthetic compounds or other essential oil by-products, highlighting a need for further research to be conducted in this area.
To address this concern, ChemCentre is leading a research project, together with AgriFutures Australia, to establish a better understanding of the unique composition of Australian tea tree oil.
The research has already begun, with new methods developed to analyse a library of 100 authentic and known provenance Melaleuca alternifolia oil samples using gas chromatography mass spectrometry.
This research project will provide vital information to the Australian tea tree oil industry, helping to reduce the occurrence of adulterated tea tree oil products in the market, while also supporting development of new, improved authentication services for growers, manufacturers and resellers.
Ultimately, the data produced from this research project will improve consumer confidence and provide assurance to consumers that the tea tree oil they purchase is as claimed on the label, and therefore safe and effective to use.
This six-month project is due to be completed in August 2023. Once finalised, the results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal article describing the analytical methodology and the tea tree library data.