Composition and antibacterial activity of Abies balsamea essential oil

Phytother Res. 2006 May;20(5):371-3. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1863.


The antibacterial activity of the essential oil of Abies balsamea (balsam fir) was evaluated against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The essential oil of A. balsamea was found to be inactive against E. coli (>100 microg/mL) and active against S. aureus, with an MIC of 56 microg/mL. The oil composition was analysed by GC-MS and the antibacterial activity of each oil constituent was determined. The essential oil of A. balsamea is essentially constituted of monoterpenes (>96%) and some sesquiterpenes. beta-pinene (29.9%), delta-3-carene (19.6%) and alpha-pinene (14.6%) were the major components. beta-pinene and delta-3-carene were found inactive against both bacteria strains. However, three constituents of the essential oil were active against S. aureus: alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene (0.4%) and alpha-humulene (0.2%) with MIC values of 13.6 microg/mL, 5.1 microg/mL and 2.6 microg/mL, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abies*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Components, Aerial
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Plant Oils