ISSN 1214-0287 (on-line)
ISSN 1214-021X (printed)

Volume 3 (2005), No 2, p 101-108

Tea tree oil inhalations modify immunity in mice

Mateusz Golab, Oleg Burdzenia, Pawel Majewski, Krystyna Skwarlo-Sonta

Address: Krystyna Skwarlo-Sonta, Department of Vertebrate Physiology, Faculty of Biology, Warsaw University, Miecznikowa 1, 02-096 Warsaw, Poland

Received 24th January 2005.
Revised 14th April 2005.
Published online 31st May 2005.

Full text article (pdf)

Tea tree oil (TTO) is well known as an anti-microbial and immunomodulatory agent and the latter property was examined in this study. Male, C57BI10 x CBA/H (F1), mice were exposed to TTO vapour three times a day, for one week. During this period, half of the mice also received naltrexone (endogenous opioid receptor antagonist) in their drinking water. A day before the end of the TTO inhalation treatment a number of the mice were intra-peritoneally injected with Zymosan or PBS. Spleens and peritoneal exudates were collected 24 h after the injections. Cultured splenocytes were used in in vitro proliferation assays with PHA, and LPS mitogens and peritoneal leukocytes (PTLs) were used for cytofluorimetric ROS level measurement.
The results obtained confirmed the anti-inflammatory properties of TTO, expressed as an inhibition of the increase in the PTL number stimulated by Zymosan. This effect was reversed by naltrexone, suggesting that TTO acts via the endogenous opioid system. TTO also stopped the proliferation of splenocytes in response to mitogens and the activity of PTLs was equivalent to that seen in the control (without inflammation) groups.

tea tree oil; peritonitis; splenocytes; immunity; mice

Ajuebor MN et al.: Endogenous monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 recruits monocytes in the zymosan peritonitis model. J Leukoc Biol 63:108-116, 1998.

Alkiewicz J, Kedzia B, Han S: The role of tea tree oil in phytotherapy. Part II, Therapeutic application (in Polish). Postepy fitoterapii 3/2000,

Brand C et al.: Tea tree oil reduces swelling associated with the efferent phase of a contact hypersensitivity response. Inflam Res 51:236-244, 2002a.

Brand C, Townley SL, Finlay-Jones JJ, Hart PH: Tea tree oil reduces histamin-induced oedema in murine ears. Inflam Res 51:283-289, 2002b.

Buchbauer G, Jirovets L, Jager W, Plank C, Dietrich H: Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects upon inhalation. J Pharm Sci 82:660-664, 1993.

Carson CF, Cookson BD, Farrelly HD, Riley TV: Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J Antimicrob Chemother 35:421-424, 1995.

Chadzinska M, Kolaczkowska E, Seljelid R, Plytycz B: Morphine modulation of peritoneal inflammation in Atlantic salmon and CB6 mice. J Leukoc Biol 65:590-596, 1999.

Drela N, Zesko I: Gender related early immune changes in mice exposed to airborne suspended matter. Immunopharm Immunotox 25:101-121, 2003.

Finlay-Jones J, Hart P, Riley TV, Carson C: Terpinen-4-ol, the main component of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (TTO) suppresses inflammatory mediator production by activated human monocytes. In: Anti-inflammatory Activity of Tea Tree Oil, Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation Publication No 01/10, Chapter 2, 2002a.

Finlay-Jones J, Hart P, Riley TV, Carson C: The water-soluble components of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia suppress the production of superoxide by human monocytes, but not neutrophils, activated in vitro. In: Anti-inflammatory Activity of Tea Tree Oil, Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation Publication No 01/10, Chapter 3, 2002b.

Fujiwara R et al.: Effects of a long term inhalation of fragrances on the stress-induced immunosuppression in mice. Neuroimmunomodulation 5:318-322, 1998.

Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV: In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi. J Antimicrob Chemother 50:195-199, 2002.

Hildebrand J, Sheferd G: Mechanism of olfactory discrimination: Converging Evidence for Common Principles Across Phyla Annu Rev Neurosci 29:595-631, 1997.

Kolaczkowska ., Seljelid R, Plytycz B: Critical role of mast cells in morphine-mediated impairment of zymosan-induced peritonitis in mice. Inflam Res 50:1-7, 2000.

Komori T, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, Nomura J, Yokoyama MM: Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation 2:174-180, 1995.

Kovar KA, Kovar DD, Johnson I: 1,8 cineole was detected in the blood of mice following inhalation. Planta Med 53:315-318, 1987.

Lyte M, Nelson SG, Baissa B: Examination of the neuroendocrine basis for the social conflictinduced enhancement of immunity in mice, Physiol Behav 48:685-691, 1990.

Majewski P, Markowska M, Laskowska H, Waloch M, Skwarlo-Sonta K: Effect of morphine on thioglycollate-induced peritonitis in chickens. Neuroendocrinol Lett 23:87-93, 2002.

Moynihan JA, Karp JD, Cohen N, Ader R: Immune deviation following stress odor exposure: role of endogenous opioids. J Neuroimmunol 102:145-153, 2000.

Moynihan JA, Karp JD, Cohen N, Cocke R: Alterations in interleukin-4 and antibody production following pheromone exposure: role of glucocorticoids. J Neuroimmunol 54:51-58, 1994.

Padgett DA, Glaser R: How stress influences the immune response. Trends Immunol 24:444-448, 2003.

Peterson PK, Molitor TW, Chao CC: The opioid-cytokine connection. J Neuroimmunol 83:63-69, 1998.

Salzet M: Neuroimmunology of opioids from invertebrates to human. Neuroendocrinol Lett 22:467-474, 2001.

Schnitzler P, Schon K, Reichling J: Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Pharmazie 56:343-347, 2001.

Shnaubelt K: Suppression of development of virus of influenza (Myxovirus the influenzae) under the inhalation of the TTO. Int J Aromather 1:32, 1989.

Skopinska-Rozewska E et al.: Antimicrobial and immunotropic action of essential oils. In: Xenobiotics influence on the immune system (in Polish). IRS, Olsztyn, Poland, 127-136, 1997.

Tisserand R: Essential oils as psychotherapeutic agents. In: Van Toller S, Dodd GH: Perfumery: The Physiology and Biology of Fragrance. London, England: Chapman & Hall, 167-185, 1991.

Umezu T: Pharmacological effects of plant-derived essential oils on the Central Nervous System. Aroma Research 3:376-382, 2002.

Van Pelt LJ et al.: Limitation on the use of dihydrorhodamine 123 for flow cytometric analysis of the neutrophil respiratory burst. J Immunol Methods 191:187-196, 1996.

Wood PG, Karol MH, Kusnecov AW, Rabin BS: Enhancement of antigen-specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity by electric footshock stress in rats. Brain Behav Immun 7:121-134, 1993.

Vimal M, Vijaya PP, Mumtaj P, Seema Farhath MS. Antibacterial activity of selected compounds of essential oils from indigenous plants. J Chem Pharm Res. 5: 248-253, 2013.

Astani A Reichling J Schnitzler P. Screening for Antiviral Activities of Isolated Compounds from Essential Oils. Evid-Based Compl Alter Med. 1-8, 2011.

Schnitzler P, Astani A, Reichling J. Screening for antiviral activities of isolated compounds from essential oils. Evid-Based Compl Alter Med. 253643, 2011.

Golab M, Skwarlo-Sonta K. Mechanisms involved in the anti-inflammatory action of inhaled tea tree oil in mice. Exp Biol Med. 232: 420-426, 2007.