Vapour phase: a potential future use for essential oils as antimicrobials?

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2012 Mar;54(3):169-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2011.03190.x. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


Essential oil (EO) vapours have been known for their antimicrobial properties since the 4th century B.C.; however, it was not until the early 1960s that research into the potential of these volatile oils was explored. More recently, the use of EOs such as tea tree, bergamot, lavender and eucalyptus in vapour form has been shown to have antimicrobial effects against both bacteria and fungi, with range of methods being developed for dispersal and efficacy testing. To date, many applications for EO vapours as antimicrobials have been identified including in the food and clinical arenas.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Fungi / drug effects*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Volatile Organic Compounds