“In a project managed by the Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia, plant cuttings from a range of lemon myrtle varieties originally found growing in the wild, from the Kimberley and North Queensland to the Sunshine Coast hinterland and Currumbin Valley in south east Queensland, will be distilled in a laboratory at Lismore’s Southern Cross University and the natural range of chemical variations within their oils will be analysed.  “it is about the creation of an industry standard,” explains association secretary Ashley Dowell noting lemon myrtle has an Australian industry standard but now there is a need to gain an international tick of approval through ISO and to do that they need more information.  “The challenge is establishing when an oil is adulterated.“  Carbon dating can detect synthetic oils but the process is expensive so the project will look more closely into the relationships between two key components of citral, lemon myrtle oil’s reason for being – Neral and Geranial. They have a ratio, although that fluctuates throughout the year. What was a bush enterprise is now maturing and while some oils like lemon myrtle, already have standards, others like Desert Rosewood (Eremophila mitchellii) do not. Now, a scientific study into these products will set new standards for future production.

During the project, funded by by Agrifutures Emerging Industries, 10 selected Australian natives will have their oils analysed in order to create quality control standards, regulatory documents like safety data and allergen statements. Species like the common broad leaved paperbark and blue cypress were selected from a short list of 25 based on their potential gross domestic product to increase in value by $10 million within five years.  An important aspect of the work will be showing their efficacy as an anti-biotic, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory complementary medicine.  The data will be made available online to growers and traders through the Essential Oils Producers of Australia Association.  The work includes procuring primary specimens of the selected plant species across their range of natural distribution and collation of all available published data on chemistry and biological activity. Collected specimens will be mounted as herbarium specimens with the SCU Medicinal Plant Herbarium, and bulk samples distilled to provide representative essential oils for chemical analysis.

Species to be included in the project are: Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), Northern cypress pine (Callitris intratropica), Lavender Tea Tree ( Melaleuca ericifolia), Broad leaf Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia); Manuka ( Leptospermum scoparium), Lemon Scented Tea Tree ( Leptospermum petersonii), Mimosa (Acacia dealbata), Desert Rosewood (Eremophila mitchellii), Kunzea (Kunzea ambigua), Lemon Ironbark (Eucalyptus staigeriana).”

Extract from Article from “The Land” by Jamie Brown

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