Background: Vaginal candidiasis is a frequent and common distressing disease affecting up to 75% of the women of fertile age; most of these women have recurrent episodes. Essential oils from aromatic plants have been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal activities. This study was aimed at assessing the anti-fungal activity of essential oil from Mentha suaveolens (EOMS) in an experimental infection of vaginal candidiasis.
Methods: The in vitro and in vivo activity of EOMS was assessed. The in vitro activity was evaluated under standard CLSI methods, and the in vivo analysis was carried out by exploiting a novel, non-invasive model of vaginal candidiasis in mice based on an in vivo imaging technique. Differences between essential oil treated and saline treated mice were evaluated by the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U-test. Viable count data from a time kill assay and yeast and hyphae survival test were compared using the Student's t-test (two-tailed).
Results: Our main findings were: i) EOMS shows potent candidastatic and candidacidal activity in an in vitro experimental system; ii) EOMS gives a degree of protection against vaginal candidiasis in an in vivo experimental system.
Conclusions: This study shows for the first time that the essential oil of a Moroccan plant Mentha suaveolens is candidastatic and candidacidal in vitro, and has a degree of anticandidal activity in a model of vaginal infection, as demonstrated in an in vivo monitoring imaging system. We conclude that our findings lay the ground for further, more extensive investigations to identify the active EOMS component(s), promising in the therapeutically problematic setting of chronic vaginal candidiasis in humans.