Under the microscope: Uni focuses on the native plant


IN A new study funded by AgriFutures Australia, researchers are improving their understanding of a native vegetable oil that could spur industry development.

Southern Cross University researchers are examining further investigations into the safety, efficacy, and medicinal applications of the tea tree’s antimicrobial properties.

They said the lack of accessible information regarding the native Australian plant led them to start a new study.

This will involve a systematic literature review analyzing currently available published studies, which will be led by Associate Professor Romy Lauche of the National Center for Naturopathic Medicine in collaboration with Southern Cross Plant science.

He said the project will seek to benefit healthcare professionals and consumers by providing a better understanding of current applications of tea tree oil for the effective and safe use of medicines and related products.

To meet these needs, Professor Lauche felt that an updated review was urgently needed.

“To make evidence-based decisions, most consumers and healthcare professionals rely on critical and comprehensive, yet accessible, research summaries,” he said.

“The last review however was published more than 10 years ago.

“This project is needed to summarize and critically review the existing evidence from published research to inform consumers and health care professionals about the safe and effective use of tea tree oil.”

This work has been instrumental in increasing demand for tea tree oil and growing the industry, according to AgriFutures Australia Research Manager Gae Plunkett.

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

“It will also likely increase demand and eventually lead to increased profitability on the farm for all Australian tea tree oil growers.”

The study was recently initiated at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

The team of researchers seeks to publish their results in mid-2021 and will make the resources available at agrifutures.com.au/tea-tree-oil


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