In vitro and in vivo activity of tea tree oil against azole-susceptible and -resistant human pathogenic yeasts

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003 May;51(5):1223-9. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkg202. Epub 2003 Mar 28.


A tea tree oil (TTO) preparation of defined chemical composition was studied, using a microbroth method, for its in vitro activity against 115 isolates of Candida albicans, other Candida species and Cryptococcus neoformans. The fungal strains were from HIV-seropositive subjects, or from an established type collection, including reference and quality control strains. Fourteen strains of C. albicans resistant to fluconazole and/or itraconazole were also assessed. The same preparation was also tested in an experimental vaginal infection using fluconazole-itraconazole-susceptible or -resistant strains of C. albicans. TTO was shown to be active in vitro against all tested strains, with MICs ranging from 0.03% (for C. neoformans) to 0.25% (for some strains of C. albicans and other Candida species). Fluconazole- and/or itraconazole-resistant C. albicans isolates had TTO MIC50s and MIC90s of 0.25% and 0.5%, respectively. TTO was highly efficacious in accelerating C. albicans clearance from experimentally infected rat vagina. Three post-challenge doses of TTO (5%) brought about resolution of infection regardless of whether the infecting C. albicans strain was susceptible or resistant to fluconazole. Overall, the use of a reliable animal model of infection has confirmed and extended our data on the therapeutic effectiveness of TTO against fungi, in particular against C. albicans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Azoles / pharmacology*
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / drug therapy
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal
  • Female
  • Fluconazole / pharmacology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Itraconazole / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tea Tree Oil / chemistry
  • Tea Tree Oil / pharmacology*
  • Yeasts / drug effects*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Itraconazole
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Fluconazole