Tea Tree Oil Linked to Antibiotic Resistance

tea-tree-oil-antibiotic-resistanceI hate to hear this, but some folk’s favorite remedy for MRSA/Staph boils – tea tree oil (aka melaleuca oil) – has been proven to cause antibiotic resistance. What this means for you is that if tea tree oil has been doing a bang up job healing your infections, it won’t last forever. Your infections will get worse. This problem of bacteria changing so it is unaffected by the current things that kill it is the basis of antibiotic resistance, and we should be very careful to avoid doing things that make bacteria stronger. From what I understand, the minute quantities of tea tree oil in products like shampoos and other bath and body products can contribute as well, so if you are a faithful user of one of these products, you should probably consider switching to something else. I bet Melaleuca is not thrilled to hear this news. Neither am I.

This entry was posted in Alternative therapy, Education, Infection Prevention, MRSA, MRSA Drugs, Research and Development, Superbugs. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Tea Tree Oil Linked to Antibiotic Resistance

  1. Pingback: b5media - a global blog network - Better Living Through Science and Health

  2. Liz K says:

    Please note that this has to do with dosage of the substance rather than the substance itself.

    Full strength tea tree oil or a stronger concentration that is effective in KILLING the bacteria is fine.

    Weaker concentrations allow bacteria to survive and evolve into their resistant forms.

    http://www.news-medical.net/?id=21941

  3. Nick H says:

    Can you please provide a reference to the study you’re talking about?

  4. Nick, a very good point. There so much bad B S
    out there that one doesn’t know what to use.
    But, if you have time, look @
    http://WWW.StaphWash.com
    Read Carolyn’s story

  5. Linda says:

    Yes, Please provide us with the article you are referring too. Thanks!!

  6. Shea Kauffman says:

    Fact of the matter is that Tea Tree Oil has been shown to be effective in high concentrations against MRSA.

    It is the usage in low doses like one finds in beauty products that seems to encourage resistance.

    Here’s an article about the study:
    http://www.news-medical.net/?id=21941

    Quote from the researchers:
    “The bottom line is that tea tree oil should not be used at low concentrations – less than 4% – to make sure that bacteria are killed, not just stressed. Otherwise we are just arming the bacteria against treatment by antibiotics.”

    BTW, for the time being one has to treat with something and the CDC is recomending that antibiotics no longer be prescribed for MRSA. If it comes a time when MRSA is also resistant to Tea-Tree oil, we’ll switch to Geranium Oil or something. Or better yet a better way of fighting bacteria will be invented.

    -Shea

    P.S. I tend to think 20% TT with 80% high absorbancy skin lotion.

  7. Anji says:

    Everything I have seen research wise, thus far, has shown that Tea Tree does indeed help not hinder where MRSA is concerned. As spoken in the comment before mine, the study you may have based your thoughts on really said that the mild amounts are doing the same thing that the rest of the “antibacterial stuff out there is doing. What the study says to me, is that daily fighting bacteria with products that are laced with antibacterials regardless of their source can actually do more harm than good, but, if and when a bacteria is definately taken up residence there is now a naturally know way to begin the battle and quite possible end it there…with Tea Tree, straight, and directly. I am also thankful that if I keep myself away from the mild doses of different kinds of antibacterials, on a daily basis even the antibiotics I might need to take will actually work better in my body.

  8. Colleen says:

    What I hate to see is non-supported statements such as this one being accepted as fact – which is a human tendency. Anything in print, you know… Common sense tells me that the true case is probably closer to other comments re: strength of solution. But here again we have an unsupported supposition! I like the comment by Anji

  9. Rebecca says:

    I wonder if this thinking applies to uses in the mouth, which are highly dilute. I am using it to treat a mouth MRSA infection following oral surgery with a mix of 3 drops 100% pharmaceutical grade oil to 1 cup of water…

  10. Richard says:

    A 51 yr. old male here (non-diabetic), w/1st case of cellulitis/MRSA mixed infection – 2 wks. of 4 kinds of antibiotics on this (3 days of IV treatment /Vancomycin). Got home from VA & decided to slap on tea tree/lavender oil mix to site on right elbow. Going to be 1st night w/this dressing – hope this helps. Also heard of oil of oregano (taken as a capsule) for treating this – God, this type of infection is scary stuff. Soap & water good enough for me . . . (altho now, more often). :/

  11. Carol says:

    I have had mrsa.. and could even still be a carrier but have not had an outbreak for about two years. I used to have regular outbreaks, small boils around my nose or on my lower stomach and even on my arm. I discovered a ph water that you pour (1 tsp) in a regular 8 oz glass of water. It alkalizes one’s blood as also eating a vegetarian diet. My Mrsa went away within 5 days

  12. Linda says:

    A fairly new product on the market, IV-7, has been certified by the EPA as killing MRSA. It is made of ionized silver and citric acid. IV-7 is sold directly by independent associates, mostly off the Web. If anyone is interested in trying it, check out http://www.stopgerms.iv7direct.com. The term “born with a silver spoon” in one’s mouth, comes from wealthy people giving their babies a silver spoon to gum or chew or suck on. Even centuries ago, people knew about the germ-killing properties of silver. Rich kids didn’t get plague or typhoid like poor kids did, because of the silver particles their bodies absorbed.

  13. Bob says:

    Don’t you just love it when somebody makes some claim and then doesn’t provide the source.
    I think this post qualifies as a rumor and nothing more.

  14. Mom of 2 boys with MRSA says:

    TEA TREE OIL KILLED THE MRSA OF BOTH MY HUSBAND AND SON – AFTER NOTHING ELSE WAS WORKING, INCLUDING MANY ROUNDS OF ANTIBIOTIC AND SURGERY.
    IT’S A $15 BOTTLE AT THE HEALTH FOOD STORE AND WORKS. ON THIS ONE THING ALONE—I WILL NO LONGER GO TO THE DOCTOR FOR ANYTHING. THEY KNOW ABOUT TEA TREE OIL. THEY KEEP IT SECRET. IT’S BEEN USED OVER AND OVER IN THE UK AND MANY PAPERS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ON IT. IT’S PROVEN SCIENCE.

  15. MRSA says:

    TEA TREE OIL KILLED THE MRSA OF BOTH MY HUSBAND AND SON – AFTER NOTHING ELSE WAS WORKING, INCLUDING MANY ROUNDS OF ANTIBIOTIC AND SURGERY.
    IT’S A $15 BOTTLE AT THE HEALTH FOOD STORE AND WORKS. ON THIS ONE THING ALONE—I WILL NO LONGER GO TO THE DOCTOR FOR ANYTHING. THEY KNOW ABOUT TEA TREE OIL. THEY KEEP IT SECRET. IT’S BEEN USED OVER AND OVER IN THE UK AND MANY PAPERS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ON IT. IT’S PROVEN SCIENCE.

  16. ljcjec says:

    To Linda: While the IV-7 product you describe may be effective (I don’t have any knowledge of the product), I want to point out that plenty of wealthy children who ate from silver spoons died of childhood illnesses, including, Leland Stanford Junior who died of typhoid fever at the age of 15. His parents subsequently created Stanford University with their railroad fortune because they had no heir.

  17. Curious teatree says:

    So then, will pure tea tree oil purchased at the health food store work for MRSA? Is that considered “100% concentration”? (As opposed to Tea Tree shampoo/soaps/etc)

  18. Michael Mc says:

    I have been using the essential oil of Melaleuca for over 23 years. There are different grades of this essential oil and the Tea Tree quality is usually T30C15, a low quality grade. T36C5 is a high quality grade and works more effectively than the T30C15.

    Fight Infection with Tea Tree Oil Hand Wash
    By Maureen Williams, ND
    Journal of Hospital Infection (2005;59:220-8)
    Healthnotes Newswire (March 24, 2005) — Skin washes containing 5% tea tree oil are more effective than regular soap at killing infectious bacteria on the skin, according to the Journal of Hospital Infection (2005;59:220–8).
    Hand washing plays a critical role in preventing the spread of infection in healthcare settings. Tea tree oil has demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties in numerous studies. Furthermore, studies have suggested that tea tree oil preparations do not damage skin and tend to spare normal skin bacteria.

  19. ibi says:

    relevant research papers found:

    tea tree oil should not be used at low concentrations – less than 4% – to make sure that bacteria are killed, not just stressed. Otherwise we are just arming the bacteria against treatment by antibiotics.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17071952
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18778374

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