Manuka Oil and Tea Tree are often mistaken for being similar, but they are very different.
Manuka Oil is extracted from the leptospermum scoparium tree, a unique variety of the myrtle tree. This tree is well-known to the Māori people and has been used for centuries for its healing properties.
Manuka is rich in triketones and flavonoids, with strong antibacterial and antifungal properties like Tea Tree Oil. These features help combat skin conditions, particularly acne and related issues that result from bacterial growth.
Tea Tree also has these properties, but not as concentrated as in the Manuka. Tea Tree has a lot of monoterpenes in it which results in a strong odor that many find unpleasant. Manuka has instead sesquiterpenes, which are less volatile and results in a milder, more pleasant odor.
Tea Tree grows mainly in Australia and there are about 44 species of Tea Tree endemic to that region. Manuka is indigenous to New Zealand and the plant is sturdy, able to grow all over the island. Scientists believe that the Manuka Oil has adapted to the extreme sun in New Zealand, which is the result of the hole in the ozone layer.
Given the rise in resistance in conventional antibiotics, natural products have been targeted for the development of antimicrobials with novel mechanisms of action. The evidence of the antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, and anti-inflammatory properties are of particular interest to the medical community. The potential of its activity against gram-positive bacterial suggested it can be effective against even the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
For personal care applications, Manuka Oil benefits don’t stop at alleviating inflammation and wound healing. It not only heals the skin, but makes it feel better and soothes itchy and dry skin. Manuka Oil is also successful in deodorants, eliminating body odor by killing the bacteria which causes the odor.
Manuka also imparts such a floral, comforting smell that is can be used in aromatherapy and has been shown to be a stress-reliever and mood elevator.
Tea Tree is also a great oil and has become very popular. So, the benefits to using Tea Tree in formulations include the consumer familiarity to the oil. People like oils they know and often this is a justifiable reason for buying one over the other. However, Manuka is gaining in popularity and the secret of its amazing properties are becoming known.