Indigenous people from north-eastern parts of New South Wales (Australia) have been using tea tree oil for thousands of years.
They were well aware of the oil’s healing and disinfecting properties, crushing the tea tree leaves and applying them to cuts, wounds and burns. To relieve congestion and respiratory problems, they would inhale the tea tree oil.
It wasn’t until 1923 that an official scientific discovery was made regarding tea tree oil. The leading state government chemist at the time - Arthur Penfold - tested the oil from the tea tree, determining its antiseptic properties were more than 10 times stronger that what was being widely used at the time - carbolic acid.
Clinical trials with colleagues from both London and Australia led to glowing reports about the virtues of tea tree oil, leading to publications in scientific journals of that time.
During World War II, Australian soldiers were supplied with first aid kits containing tea tree oil. The troops not only used it as an antiseptic and disinfectant, they also used it as an insect repellant.
By the 1960’s there was not much demand for tea tree oil, as the pharmaceutical industry provided cheaper, synthetic antiseptic treatments. But now, due to an increasingly popular demand for natural alternatives, tea tree oil is a more common treatment used in our homes.