Tea Tree Oil History

When Captain Cook landed in New South Wales, Australia in the 18th century, he learned about the “healing tree” from local aborigines. Leaves from trees surrounding the coastal lakes had been falling into the water for over 100 years and this had turned the lakes into antiseptic baths. After allowing his crew to swim in the lake, wounds, cuts, scalds and other skin irritations were healed. The colour of the water, reminded Captain Cook of tea, and hence, according to folklore, the name Tea Tree. The local Aboriginal tribe, Bundjalungy, used Tea Tree to treat many skin problems by adding crushed Tea Tree leaves into hot compresses and poultices.


During the second World War the Australian Army obtained possession of all income from Tea Tree oil to treat injured soldiers, and production of oil was considered an essential war time industry. Therefore, leaf-cutters in the plantations were exempt from military service, and although the supply of oil was limited, all soldiers had a small bottle of Tea Tree Oil in their back packs. The oil was especially important when battling in the jungle where mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects were a hazard. Wounds, cuts and insect bites were treated with oil, the antiseptic properties eased discomfort while healing was enhanced and the risk of infection significantly diminished.