New study set to enhance understanding of tea tree oil and boost industry development

Published 13 November 2020
Man inspecting branch of tree

Tea tree is an Australian native plant well known around the world for its antimicrobial properties. Yet a lack of accessible information related to its safety, efficacy and applications has led researchers at Southern Cross University to commence a new study further investigating the medicinal plant.

A systematic literature review analysing published studies currently available will be spearheaded by Associate Professor Romy Lauche of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine in collaboration with Southern Cross Plant Science. It is funded by AgriFutures Australia 

The project will seek to benefit healthcare practitioners and consumers, providing a better understanding of the current applications of tea tree oil for effective and safe use of related medicines and products.  

In order to meet these needs, Professor Lauche believes an updated review was urgently needed. 

To make evidence-based decisions, most consumers and health practitioners rely on critical and comprehensive, yet accessible summaries of research. The last review however was published more than 10 years ago. This project is needed to summarise and critically examine the existing evidence from published research to inform consumers, and health care providers on the safe and effective use of tea tree oil,” she said. 

This work is critical in increasing demand for tea tree oil and the industry’s growth, according to AgriFutures Australia Research Manager Gae Plunkett 

“By highlighting the gaps in research and development, this project will likely stimulate further research and development in this area, and increase the understanding of the value of tea tree oils for health and medical benefits,” said Ms Plunkett. 

It will also likely increase demand and ultimately lead to an increase in profitability at the farm gate for all Australian tea tree oil growers.”  

The study has recently commenced at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus. The team of researchers seek to publish their findings mid-2021 and will make the resources available at


About the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine and Southern Cross Plant Science research centres: 

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) is a centre for excellence in education, research and innovation in healthcare. Founded upon a strong evidence-based scientific approach, the Centre is the first in Australia to offer postgraduate pathways in naturopathic medicine. NCNM is based at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus, which is also home to the Southern Cross Plant Science research centre (SCPS). SCPS carries out research on the genetic and environmental factors which contribute to end-use properties of crops and other added-value natural products and is home to the Analytical Research Lab which provides specialist capabilities in applied phytochemistry, crop quality and herbal medicine. The University is a hub for natural therapies and allied healthcare, with the NCNM providing further opportunities for research and education in these areas. 

Media contact: Caitlin Zillman, Marketing and Communications Manager, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine 0424 632 177 or