Antimicrobial activity of carvacrol: current progress and future prospectives

Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2012 Apr;7(1):28-35. doi: 10.2174/157489112799829684.


During the last few years the scientific community has shown a considerable interest in the study of plant materials as sources of new compounds to be processed into antimicrobial agents. In this context, carvacrol, a monoterpenic phenol, has emerged for its wide spectrum activity extended to food spoilage or pathogenic fungi, yeast and bacteria as well as human, animal and plant pathogenic microorganisms including drug-resistant and biofilm forming microorganisms. The antibacterial activity of carvacrol has been attributed to its considerable effects on the structural and functional properties of cytoplasmatic membrane. The data reported in this review provide an overview of the published literature regarding the antimicrobial properties of carvacrol and the recent patents claimed in order to highlight its future applications as a new antimicrobial agent. These could concern either the natural preservation in the cosmetic and food industries or an alternative which supports the conventional antimicrobial protocols. Interestingly, carvacrol alone or associated with one or more synergistic products could be incorporated in different formulations for biomedical and food packaging applications. However, more detailed safety investigations and in vivo studies should be carried out so that this molecule could be used in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Cymenes
  • Fungi / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Monoterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Mycoses / drug therapy


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cymenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • carvacrol