What Is Tea Tree Oil?'Tea tree oil (TTO), also called melaleuca oil, is made from the leaves of the tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia), a member of the myrtle tree family, which is native to Australia. The name was coined by British explorer Lieutenant James Cook in the 1770s, when he saw native Australians brewing tea using the leaves from the tree. Later on, he brewed his own batch of tea, and gave it to his crew to prevent scurvy.1
The tea tree plant is highly prized by primitive Australian communities for its unique healing ability. According to the University of Sydney,2 numerous aboriginal communities along the east coast of Australia have a long historical use of tea tree as an antiseptic for skin conditions. They simply crushed the tea tree leaves and applied it to cuts, burns, and infections.'