Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is a plant found in Mexico and Central America that is traditionally used as a medicinal herb. In the present study, we investigated the antiviral activity of the essential oil of Mexican oregano and its major component, carvacrol, against different human and animal viruses. The MTT test (3-4,5-dimethythiazol-2yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) was conducted to determine the selectivity index (SI) of the essential oil, which was equal to 13.1, 7.4, 10.8, 9.7, and 7.2 for acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus type 1 (ACVR-HHV-1), acyclovir-sensitive HHV-1, human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), bovine herpesvirus type 2 (BoHV-2), and bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), respectively. The human rotavirus (RV) and BoHV-1 and 5 were not inhibited by the essential oil. Carvacrol alone exhibited high antiviral activity against RV with a SI of 33, but it was less efficient than the oil for the other viruses. Thus, Mexican oregano oil and its main component, carvacrol, are able to inhibit different human and animal viruses in vitro. Specifically, the antiviral effects of Mexican oregano oil on ACVR-HHV-1 and HRSV and of carvacrol on RV justify more detailed studies.
Keywords: DNA virus; RNA virus; Verbenaceae; antimicrobial activity; condimental herbs.