Lavender oil has potent antifungal effect

Scientists from the University of Coimbra in Portugal have found that lavender essential oil could be used to treat the increasing incidence of anti-fungal resistant infections, particularly against strains of fungi responsible for common skin, scalp and nail infections.

The researchers distilled the oil from the Lavandula viridis, a plant that grows in southern Portugal and found it to be lethal to a range of skin pathenogenic fungi called dermatophytes, plus some species of Candida. Dermatophytes are responsible for conditions such as Athletes’ foot and ringworm. Candida coexist with most healthy individuals with no bad effect, but can cause thrush, as well as serious infection in immunocompromised patients, if the fungi escape into the bloodstream.

There are currently very few antifungal drugs, and those there are often cause side effects. Added to which there has been an increase in fungal diseases and an increase in resistance to the very few antifungal drugs available. Essential oils are cheap and have minimal side effects. Previous studies show that Lavandula oils have sedative and antispasmodic properties as well as being potent antimicrobials and antioxidants.

The essential oils work by destroying the cell membranes and thus the cells of the fungi. Further research would now involve clinical trials in living organisms.

Source: Journal of Medical Microbiology


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First Published in Febuary 2011


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