Synergistic interaction of eugenol with antibiotics against Gram negative bacteria

Phytomedicine. 2009 Nov;16(11):997-1005. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.04.006. Epub 2009 Jun 21.


Eugenol, the principal chemical component of clove oil from Eugenia aromatica has been long known for its analgesic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. The interaction of the eugenol with ten different hydrophobic and hydrophilic antibiotics was studied against five different Gram negative bacteria. The MIC of the combination was found to decrease by a factor of 5-1000 with respect to their individual MIC. This synergy is because of the membrane damaging nature of eugenol, where 1mM of its concentration is able to damage nearly 50% of the bacterial membrane. Eugenol was also able to enhance the activities of lysozyme, Triton X-100 and SDS in damaging the bacterial cell membrane. The hydrophilic antibiotics such as vancomycin and beta-lactam antibiotics which have a marginal activity on these gram negative bacteria exhibit an enhanced antibacterial activity when pretreated with eugenol. Reduced usage of antibiotics could be employed as a treatment strategy to slow down the onset of antibiotic resistance as well as decrease its toxicity. Experiments performed with human blood cells indicated that the concentration of eugenol used for the combination studies were below its cytotoxic values. Pharmacodynamic studies of the combinations need to be performed to decide on the effective dosage.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteriolysis / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cephalosporins / metabolism
  • Drug Synergism
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects*
  • Eugenol / pharmacology*
  • Hemolysis / drug effects
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Indicators and Reagents / metabolism
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Syzygium / chemistry


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cephalosporins
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Eugenol
  • nitrocefin