The essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) and its main component, terpinen-4-ol protect mice from experimental oral candidiasis

Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(6):861-5. doi: 10.1248/bpb.35.861.


The therapeutic efficacy of tea tree oil (TTO), Melaleuca alternifolia, and its main component, terpinen-4-ol, were evaluated in a murine oral candidiasis model. Prednisolone -pretreated mice were orally infected with a fluconazole-susceptible (TIMM 2640) or a resistant (TIMM 3163) strain of Candida albicans to induce oral candidiasis. TTO or terpinen-4-ol was administrated with a cotton swab 3 h and 24 h after candida infection. These treatments clearly showed a decrease in the symptom score of tongues and in the viable candida cell number in the oral cavity at 2 d after azole-susceptible C. albicans infection, although the degree of the efficacy was less than that of fluconazole. Even against oral candidiasis caused by azole-resistant C. albicans, TTO and terpinen-4-ol were similarly effective, while fluconazole appeared ineffective. These results suggest that TTO and terpinen-4-ol may have the potential of therapeutic ability for mucosal candidiasis which may also be applicable to C. albicans oral candidiasis induced by the azole-resistant strain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azoles
  • Candidiasis, Oral / drug therapy*
  • Candidiasis, Oral / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal
  • Female
  • Melaleuca*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Tea Tree Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Terpenes
  • terpinenol-4
  • Tea Tree Oil