Essential oils make efficient antibiotics

Work by Professor Yiannis Samaras and Dr Effimia Eriotou, from the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, in Greece have found that eight essential oils may be more efficient at combating superbugs such as MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) than conventional antibiotics.

The essential oils of thyme and cinnamon were found to be particularly efficient antibacterial agents against a range of Staphylococcus species. (Oil of thyme could almost completely eliminate the bacteria within 60 minutes.)

Strains of staphylococcus are commonly found on the skin (especially in eczematous patients) and may cause infection in immunocompromised individuals. Antibiotic-resistant strains, such as MRSA, are extremely difficult to treat so alternative non-drug based options are very welcome as one way to minimise the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging.

Essential oils, including the Australian tea tree oil, have been used therapeutically for hundreds of years to treat colds, sore throats, skin infections, insect bites, acne, dandruff, head lice and oral infections as well as a range of bacterial and fungal infections, although very little is still known about how they work. However, the Greek researchers believe that essential oils could be easily incorporated into antimicrobial creams or gels for external application, used to impregnate food packaging and be included in food stuffs to replace synthetic chemicals that act as preservatives.

Society for General Microbiology (2010, April 4). Essential oils to fight superbugs

Courtesy of Science Daily


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First Published April 2010

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