Essential oils of aromatic plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and cytotoxic properties--an overview

Forsch Komplementmed. 2009 Apr;16(2):79-90. doi: 10.1159/000207196. Epub 2009 Apr 3.


The abundant use of anti-infective agents resulted in the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, fungi, and viruses. To overcome the increasing resistance of pathogenic microbes, a variety of medicinal plants have been screened worldwide for their antimicrobial properties. The aim is to find new, effective antimicrobial agents with novel modes of actions. Essential oils derived from aromatic medicinal plants have been reported to exhibit exceptionally good antimicrobial effects against bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi, and viruses. The progress of this expanding scientific field will be documented by the most important results published in the last decade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antifungal Agents / toxicity
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / toxicity
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / toxicity
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Oils, Volatile / toxicity
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Phytotherapy / trends
  • Plants, Medicinal* / toxicity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Oils, Volatile