Effective treatment of experimental acute otitis media by application of volatile fluids into the ear canal

J Infect Dis. 2005 Jun 1;191(11):1876-80. doi: 10.1086/430003. Epub 2005 Apr 29.


Essential oils are volatile and can have good antimicrobial activity. We compared the effects of oil of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and essential oil components (thymol, carvacrol, and salicylaldehyde) to those of a placebo when placed in the ear canal of rats with experimental acute otitis media caused by pneumococci or Haemophilus influenzae. Progress was monitored by otomicroscopic examination and middle ear cultures. The treatment with oil of basil or essential oil components cured or healed 56%-81% of rats infected with H. influenzae and 6%-75% of rats infected with pneumococci, compared with 5.6%-6% of rats in the placebo group. Essential oils or their components placed in the ear canal can provide effective treatment of acute otitis media.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Haemophilus Infections / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Ocimum basilicum / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy*
  • Otitis Media / microbiology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts