In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against bacterial and Candida spp. isolates from clinical specimens

Br J Biomed Sci. 2001;58(3):139-45.


This study investigates the in vitro activity of tea tree oil (TTO) against a range of wild strains of microorganisms isolated from clinical specimens of leg ulcers and pressure sores. The antimicrobial effectiveness of TTO is determined in terms of minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) or minimum fungicidal concentration (MFC). The isolates include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), S. aureus, faecal streptococci, beta-haemolytic streptococci, coagulase-negative staphylococci, Pseudomonas spp. and coliform bacilli. Eleven Candida spp. isolates from skin and vaginal swabs also are tested. Using an agar dilution assay, the MICs of TTO in 88 out of 90 isolates was 0.5-1.0% (v/v), whilst with P. aeruginosa it was >2% (v/v). A broth microdilution method was used to determine MIC and minimum cidal concentration (MCC) of 80 isolates. In 64 isolates, TTO produced an inhibitory and cidal effect at 3% and 4% (v/v), respectively. S. aureus and Candida spp. were the most susceptible to TTO, with MICs and MBCs of 0.5% and 1%, respectively. P. aeruginosa and the faecal streptococci isolates, with MICs and MBCs of >8%, were resistant to TTO.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Candida / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Leg Ulcer / microbiology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Pressure Ulcer / microbiology
  • Tea Tree Oil / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Tea Tree Oil