Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) native to Australia, the oil is produced through steam distillation of leaves and branches. Tea tree oil has been used for over 100 years as an antiseptic, antimicrobial and antifungal. Australian Aborigines used the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds.24
Tea tree oil has garnered considerable interest as a potential component in the treatment against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Recent randomized trials have established the efficacy of a Tea tree oil regimen (consisting of a 10% Tea tree nasal ointment, 5% tea tree oil body wash and 10% Tea tree oil cream applied to skin lesions and wounds) against a standard treatment regimen (2% mupirocin nasal ointment, 4% chlorhexidine gluconate soap and 1% silver sulfadiazine cream applied to skin lesions and wounds) of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Results showed no significant differences between the two treatment regimens.25
Willow Bark extract (Salix alba) (picutred above) Willow bark use can be found as far back as the time of Hippocrates when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation.26 In 1764 it was a common remedy for Rheumatic fever.27 Willow bark is a source of the natural components of salicylic acid (salicin) which was used in the 19th century to develop aspirin.28 Salicyclic acid is also a natural exfoliator, helping to improve the appearance of skin. In fact, Willow bark extract has been found to increase skin cell turnover at 24%, versus 22% for the synthetic salicylic acid.29 The extract is also a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) a shrub or small tree which produces pale yellow flowers in late autumn to early winter. Witch hazel is native to North America. Both leaves and bark are used for steam distillation. Witch hazel water is used for compresses and treatment of minor inflammation and irritation of the skin such as cuts, insect bites and burns.30 It is often included in skin toners and creams for its natural astringent properties and as a soothing treatment for hemorrhoids.