Tea tree oil -Reply

Steven Projan PROJANS at war.wyeth.com
Sat Jul 5 17:25:35 EST 1997

There are several reports of extracts from various teas (green tea,
ginseng etc.) having antibactieral (including MRSA) and cytotoxic
affects.  Many of these studies are published in Japanese and one of
the primary areas of interest is activity against oral microflora. 
Most of the the affects probably reflect activity against membranes. 

One interesting (and relatively well done) study suggested that the
principle active agents are steroidals (which would be found in the
tea oils) which function to inhibit bacterial efflux (so they may
work to enahce the activity of tetracyclines vs. strains carrying
tetracycline efflux pumps).  This probably the same activity shared
by the (structurally similar) squalamines (isolated from shark).  

My own personal preference is chicken soup (a.k.a. Jewish
penicillin), high in fat content (note the structural similarity
between the squalamines and cholesterol).  

However most of these tea extracts (and structurally similar
substances) are active at concentrations that cannot be realistically
attained systemically, hence they would only find utility in topical
applications (such as wound disinfecting and healing or oral rinses).

Steve Projan
Wyeth-Ayerst Research

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