Tea tree for dandruff and bad breath

Those with a dandruff problem may find help with tea tree oil, say researchers at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia. Since tea tree oil has antifungal properties and dandruff is related to the yeast Pityrosporum ovale, the researchers theorized that tea tree oil might be an effective anti-dandruff treatment. In their study, 126 male and female patients with mild to moderate dandruff were randomly assigned to use either a placebo or 5% tea tree oil shampoo for four weeks. The dandruff was scored on a medical scale and also by patient self-assessment. After the trial, the group using tea tree oil shampoo showed a 41% improvement in their scores compared with only 11% in the placebo group. Improvements were also observed in patient’s assessment of itchiness and greasiness. There were no adverse effects.

At the University of Western Australia, researchers found tea tree oil was also highly effective against bacteria commonly found in the mouth which can contribute to bad breath. In lab tests targeting 161 different types of bacteria, treatment with 0.5% tea tree oil caused decreases in bacteria after only 30 seconds. After five minutes, no viable organisms could be detected. This study suggests tea tree oil may be of use in the maintenance of oral hygiene.

NOTE: Do not ingest pure tea tree oil: follow manufacturers’ directions for gargles and rinses, or use oral care products containing tea tree oil.

Sources: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5; Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2003 Dec;18(6):389-92