Susceptibility to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil of yeasts isolated from the mouths of patients with advanced cancer

Oral Oncol. 2006 May;42(5):487-92. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2005.10.002. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Yeasts that are resistant to azole antifungal drugs are increasingly isolated from the mouths of cancer patients suffering from oral fungal infections. Tea tree oil is an agent possessing antimicrobial properties that may prove useful in the prevention and management of infections caused by these organisms. In this study, 301 yeasts isolated from the mouths of 199 patients suffering from advanced cancer were examined by an in vitro agar dilution assay for susceptibility to tea tree oil. All of the isolates tested were susceptible, including 41 that were known to be resistant to both fluconazole and itraconazole. Clinical studies of tea tree oil as an agent for the prevention and treatment of oral fungal infections in immunocompromised patients merit consideration.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Candida / drug effects*
  • Candidiasis, Oral / immunology
  • Candidiasis, Oral / microbiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Palliative Care
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Tea Tree Oil / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Tea Tree Oil