What is bioactive honey?

This week we’re shining the spotlight on what makes Meluka’s tea tree honey a bioactive honey. We know that not all honey is created equal, and if you’re considering using medicinal honey, it’s important to be well informed so that you can make the right choice. 

Read on to learn more about the health benefits of bioactive honey.

The natural bioactive compounds extracted from tea tree

Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) exhibits a wide spectrum of antimicrobial (monoterpene) and high antioxidant (or plant polyphenol) activity.  Let’s look at the origins of Australian tea tree to see where it all began.

Centuries ago, Australia aborigines discovered the essential oil extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia possessed tremendous healing properties for a wide variety of ailments. They were said to crush the leaves and apply them topically to wounds or make a leaf infused brew for oral relief to treat throat ailments. It was said that leaves and twigs of tea trees at the lagoon’s edge would fall into the waters, staining them a rich bronze, offering a sweetly scented, cleansing bath of water infused with tea tree’s signature healing properties. 

Today, tea tree has been investigated for a range of bioactive properties including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity. The earliest publication of the use of tea tree, through its oil, is from the 1920’s, when the oil’s benefits became more widely known after Arthur Penfold, an Australian Government Chemist published a series of papers on tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties.  Following that, this essential’s benefits became much more widely known.  

We now celebrate this powerful oil for its world-renowned antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It is commonly used as an active ingredient in topical skincare bases including deodorants, soaps, creams and lotions, personal hygiene care including toothpaste, mouthwash, lozenges, hair care, shampoos for controlling dandruff and treatment for damaged hair, or as an ingredient in pet care products, including shampoo. 

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil vs tea tree extract

Tea tree oil contains bioactive constituents. It’s a concentrated product that is extracted by steam distillation of the leaves and branches of the Melaleuca alternifolia species. It’s important to note that tea tree oil is not for internal use and should not be taken by mouth for any reason.    

Meluka Australia’s signature tea tree extract is produced via an alternate extraction method to tea tree oil. Ethically wildcrafted from the leaves of our old-growth forest mother trees, it’s an aqueous (water-based) extract that delivers the signature anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties of tea tree.

Meluka Australia’s bioactive tea tree honey - rich in a diversity of antioxidants and antimicrobials

So, now that we know a little more about bioactive compounds, what is bioactive honey? Put simply, when our signature extract is combined with our multifloral honey, the result is honey that is high in bioactivity, as summarised by Dr David Rudd from Australia’s Southern Cross University below.

 “This product has been formulated for use as a bioactive honey product; as the monoterpenes have a high antimicrobial 1, antifungal 2 and antiviral activity 3, 4, while the phenolic plant secondary metabolites have known additional antioxidant activity5Dr David Rudd Southern Cross University.

Now more than ever, we are paying attention to what we put in and, on our bodies, and the use of natural foods with medicinal properties are receiving increasing global awareness. 

“Tea tree honey is like my little insurance policy. I don’t have time to get sick. When Winter rolls around, I don’t take any chances – a spoonful a day is an investment into my health”, Suzanne, Meluka customer

Reviews like this say it all! Choose the strength of Meluka’s tea tree honey that suits you and incorporate this healing honey into your regime as a functional food or a topical wound healing solution - no nasty chemicals or ingredients you can’t pronounce, just the benefits of pure honey infused with tea tree.  Discover more here [tea tree web page link]

Quality honey is a direct result of beehive health

Bee health is at the forefront of Meluka Australia’s honey operations.  We’re pleased to report that our studies have found that honeybees foraging on Melaleuca trees delivered a benefit to bee health, where tea tree within the diet acted as a probiotic for metabolism bacteria within the honeybees' gut - another exciting step toward our mission to improve bee health and to uphold sustainable beekeeping practices in Australia. 

Learn More at Meluka Australia 

Meluka Australia’s vision was borne out of inspiration from the indigenous history of tea tree.

Our aim is to bring our customers products that harness the healing benefits of this Australian botanical species.

Yours, the Meluka family

For questions or concerns, please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you and have you try our unique honey from the northern rivers of Australia’s Bungawalbin Valley, the birthplace of Australian tea tree. Shop online here


  1. Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clin Microbiol Rev 19, 50-62 (2006).
  2. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. Antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. J Appl Microbiol 95, 853-860 (2003).
  3. Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Bisignano B, Furneri PM, Bisignano G, Castro A. In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Lett Appl Microbiol 49, 806-808 (2009).
  4. Pliego Zamora A, Edmonds JH, Reynolds MJ, Khromykh AA, Ralph SJ. The in vitro and in vivo antiviral properties of combined monoterpene alcohols against West Nile virus infection. Virology 495, 18-32 (2016).
  5. Kim H-J, Chen F, Wu C, Wang X, Chung HY, Jin Z. Evaluation of antioxidant activity of Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil and its components. J Agric Food Chem 52, 2849-2854 (2004).

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