Can essential oils kill bacteria naturally? The problem of antibiotic resistance is growing – especially the problem of resistant bacteria in hospitals. Now a new study from Greece shows that some essential oils kill bacteria naturally – even bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This is encouraging news since using these oils could reduce the need for antibiotics – and help lower the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria that are causing so many problems for humans.
What are Essential Oils?
Essentials oils are oily liquids that are either distilled or pressed from the stems and leaves of plants. They’re very concentrated and need to be blended with a carrier oil before they can be safely applied to the skin. They’ve been used medicinally throughout history to treat various ailments and are now used in the practice of aromatherapy – as a form of alternative therapy to treat conditions ranging from anxiety to obesity. Their benefits come from the terpenes, phenols, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, and other plant-derived chemicals they contain.
Essential Oils Kill Bacteria Naturally?
Greek researchers at the Technological Educational Institute in Greece, looked at the anti-bacterial potential of eight different plant-based essential oils. The big winners when it came to killing bacteria were thyme and cinnamon essential oils. These oils were even effective against methicillin resistant Staph bacteria, also known as MRSA, which is responsible for so many drug resistant bacterial infections in hospitals. Of the two, thyme essential oil was most effective since it was able to destroy bacteria in under an hour. Other essential oils tested that effectively kill bacteria are peppermint and basil essential oils.
Why Aren’t Essential Oils More Commonly Used to Kill Bacteria?
Research into the effects of using essential oils to kill bacteria is slow. Since they can’t be patented, there aren’t any drug companies to sponsor the research. Slowly, more studies are being done that confirm their ability to kill bacterial naturally. Other studies show that geranium, clove, lemon, lime, orange, rosemary oil, and, possibly eucalyptus oil also have antibacterial activity. Researchers are hoping that these essentials oils can eventually replace some of the synthetic preservatives that are currently added to foods – providing a safer, natural, and healthier alternative.