Microbiological safety of essential oils used in complementary therapies and the activity of these compounds against bacterial and fungal pathogens

Support Care Cancer. 1999 Mar;7(2):100-2. doi: 10.1007/s005200050235.


To determine the safety of plant essential oils we determined the sterility of eight of these products obtained from retail outlets. In addition, the ability of oils to support the growth of fungal and bacterial pathogens was examined. The antimicrobial activity of these products against seven bacterial species and Candida albicans was also investigated. All oils and their respective carriers were sterile. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were unable to survive in oils for longer than 6 h, whereas C. albicans was able to survive, but not multiply, in ylang ylang oil for at least 48 h.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Enterococcus faecalis / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / standards*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / standards*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Safety
  • Staphylococcus / growth & development
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development
  • Time Factors


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils