Down Under News
WHAT'S UP DOWN UNDER?
ISO4730 for TTO has Changed
Demand continues to grow for pure Australian Tea Tree Oil as consumers worldwide recognize the effectiveness of pure Australian Tea Tree Oil. Adulteration, unfortunately, remains a major issue facing the general public and manufacturers alike; a market has developed for adulterated Tea Tree Oil. While the intent of these producers must be to generate profits, the cost is ultimately borne by consumer. This is evidenced by a brief visit to the Facebook page for Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil. There are a number of posts by individuals purchasing what they thought was Tea Tree Oil, only to be left with burning, blistering, or scaring. To counter this adulteration, the industry looked to the ISO standard. The ISO standard for Tea Tree Oil was last updated in 2004. The revised ISO4730:2017 now incorporates the following advancements:
- Tightening the component specifications for Tea Tree Oil, as illustrated in Table 1
- Introducing a Chiral molecule (stereo isomer) testing protocol
Table 1: Changes to the ISO4730 Standard for Tea Tree Oil in 2017
At the time of the 2004 version, the market for Tea Tree Oil was much smaller. Farming practices were much more diverse; in fact, there were other species of Melaleuca (e.g. M. dissitiflora (F. Mueller), M. linariifloria) allowed to be called Tea Tree Oil. Approved ranges in the ISO for the different components and physical parameters were broader to accommodate the phenotypic and species variety. As Tea Tee Oil increased in popularity, the industry aligned on Melaleuca alternifolia, terpinene-4-ol (chemo)type, which narrowed the naturally-occurring component parameter ranges accordingly.
Chiral Testing for Purity
Chiral Molecule Analysis is a simple and inexpensive test which can be used to differentiate pure and natural Tea Tree Oil from adulterated oil. Chiral molecules are common in nature, representing mirror images (Left and Right) of each other.
This mirror image cannot be easily replicated synthetically and therefore provides a definitive result for the purity and naturalness of the oil. In fact there can even be an efficacy advantage for one chiral molecule over another. For example the left (-) form of menthol has an increased ability to repress synthesis of a bacterial toxin, leading to significantly higher antifungal activity than the right (+) form (Dambolena et al., 2010). Across a broad range of known origin Tea Tree Oil (terpinen-4-ol chemotype) samples (n=57), the chiral ratios of Terpinen-4-ol, Limonene, and α-Terpineol are strikingly consistent.Fifty-seven samples of Tea Tree Oil from known provenance plantations in Australia were tested and the ratio of left to right was determined to be 30:70 (as shown in the graph below).
"Tea Tree Oil" from around the world has been subjected to chiral testing. As you can see from the graph below, the 30:70 ratio (the ratio meeting the dotted red line) identifies real Tea Tree Oil from adulterated oil.
Of concern, 50% of oil was adulterated in North America, 73% in Europe, 28% in Asia and 20% in Australia. (For further information on validation of the Chiral Purity test, see Wong, et al., 2015, Journal of Industrial Crops and Products).
FLOODING in Australia – Not that bad
Many of you contacted us to express support for the recent flooding which affected the primary Tea Tree growing region in Australia - thank you. Tropical cyclone Debbie was the cause of nearly 16 inches (400+mm) of rain falling in 24 hours, causing the Wilsons River to rise to four stories above its normal level. The below images were all taken from our parents’ house and illustrate the extent of the flooding.
Tea Trees evolved in flood-prone environments and love floodwaters – as long as the water is not too dirty and that it runs off relatively quickly. Although the water was dirty, the area received light rainfall following the cyclone which effectively cleaned much of the dirt off the leaves of the trees. The water did run off quite quickly (on the large majority of farms) and as such there has been less damage than originally feared. Gladly, our most recent farm, Buhlambar, did not go under flood waters whatsoever.
Overall, we won’t really know the full extent until the harvest and distillation occurs June through September, however we are hopeful that there will be minimal effect on oil yield. At this stage we do not think the floods will be a factor impacting any movements in prices. However there may be other reasons the oil price will change – implementation of REACH regulations across the European Community in 2018, an expected SCCS opinion reversal with an updated TTO dossier this year, and a large increase in demand for pure TTO from Asia (China in particular). Please feel free to call us for a more in-depth discussion on these global factors.
TRENDING NOW: Understanding Inflammation and Aging
Inflammation is the body’s reaction to external or internal stimuli. The cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, swelling, redness and heat. Dermal Inflammation (acute or chronic) is a recognised result of aging, stress, environment and/or sun damage. Inflammation is facilitated locally by the Arachidonic Acid Pathway through an internal mediator biochemical group known as prostaglandins. Among the prostaglandins, prostaglandin class E (PGE) is more prevalent as a mediator of inflammation. Prostaglandins are made in-situ upon stimulation through a process called eicosanoid synthesis. This process can be terminated in different pathways; the most commonly used method is blocking enzymes by binding irreversibly to proteins, thus hindering the inflammation cascade.
Sandalwood Seed Oil, a natural oil with anti-inflammatory properties
Sandalwood Seed Oil contain a unique triple bond fatty acid called Ximenynic Acid, which accounts for approximately 33-36% of the total fatty acid composition. The other major fatty acid found in Sandalwood Seed Oil is oleic acid (~50%) which is commonly used for skin and hair care for its well-regarded emollient properties.
Ximenynic Acid in its free, hydrolyzed form demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory activity, effectively blocking prostaglandins in both the COX and LOX chains of the Arachidonic Acid Pathway. Much research has been done on the binding effects of Ximenynic Acid on human dermal tissue. Sandalwood Seed Oil is also very safe, as demonstrated in OECD-approved studies to be non-toxic and a non-irritant. More and more skin care companies are formulating with Sandalwood Seed Oil to enable their products with these natural anti-aging benefits. (For access to a whitepaper on the anti-inflammatory activity of Ximenynic acid, click the following link).
Tea Tree: Australia’s gift to the world
Tea Tree Oil is derived from the steam distillation of the native Australian plant – Melaleuca alternifolia. This wonderful anti-microbial, one of the most highly researched and published natural products, has its origins from many, many centuries ago.
Pre-1700: Australian Aboriginal Uses
The Bundjalung tribe of eastern Australia are believed to have used buhlam, "tea tree", as a traditional medicine for thousands of years. (For access to the indigenous folklore, click the following link "The Legend of Eelemani"). The Bundjalung people traditionally used the tea tree leaves in the following ways:
- Crush the leaves of the plants and apply to minor wounds, burns and topical infections.
- Chew and inhale the oil from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds.
Tea tree is indigenous to the Northern Rivers region of the state of New South Wales. It still grows in abundance today in an area called Bungawalbyn meaning ‘healing ground’. Any other source of Tea Tree around the world originates from this sole region. Tea Tree Oil produced in this area is still considered to be the most pure and authentic. It is Tea Tree Oil from this region which has been so extensively researched and published over the years.
Twentieth Century: A scientific discovery
In the early twentieth century, a Sydney-based chemist, Dr. Arthur Penfold, identified tea tree essential oil to be thirteen time stronger than carbolic acid – the standard at that time – for antiseptic purposes. The oil was sold 'neat' and in products such as disinfectants and tooth paste. Following the outbreak of World War II, Ttea Trtree Oil was issued to all Australian Soldiers in their first aid kits. By the mid-1950s, penicillin became the new "go-to" remedy for treating various ailments and tea tree oil and its natural antiseptic properties were forgotten by many. In the mid-1980s, tea tree oil made a comeback due to the emergence of anti-biotic resistance and investigations to find more robust anti-bacterial agents.
Much of this work was spearheaded by the Tea Tree Oil Research Group at the University of Western Australia (UWA). In 2006, Hammer, Riley and Carson published on the ability of tea tree oil to inhibit and kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. It delved into the mechanism by which tea tree oil exerts its antimicrobial activity, yet with high levels of product safety. Published in the prestigious Clinical Microbiology Reviews journal, with an impact factor of 17.4. This paper has now achieved "Highly Cited" status, having been referenced 509 times according to Google Scholar. According to the Thomson Reuters Web of Science, "this highly cited paper received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of its academic field…"