Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil possesses potent anti-staphylococcal activity extended to strains resistant to antibiotics

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2006 Jul-Sep;19(3):539-44. doi: 10.1177/039463200601900309.


Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel essential oil (TTO) and its major component terpinen-4-ol were examined against a large number of clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus to establish their anti-staphylococcal activities. Classic and established procedures were used to study M.I.C., time-kill curves, synergism and mutational frequency. The anti-staphylococcal activity of terpinen-4-ol and TTO were superior to those of antibiotics belonging to the major families (all the tested drugs are for topical use or included in ointments, eye drops or used during surgery); terpinen 4-ol and TTO were active against strains resistant to mupirocin, fusidic acid, vancomycin, methicillin and linezolid. TTO and terpinen-4-ol were bactericidal as revealed by time-kill curves; the frequency of mutational frequency to TTO was < 2.9 x 10 9. The study demonstrates good anti-staphylococcal activity of TTO and terpinen-4-ol against a large number of S.aureus isolates and suggests the possible application of these agents for topical treatment of staphylococcal infections. This is the first extensive study on the anti-staphylococcal activity of TTO. The results suggest that this compound may have application as a topical agent for the control of superficial staphylococcal infections, including activity against organisms resistant to antibiotics which can be used, or are specific, for topical use.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Melaleuca*
  • Mutation
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Terpenes
  • terpinenol-4