Antibacterial activity of essential oils of edible spices, Ocimum canum and Xylopia aethiopica

J Food Sci. 2014 May;79(5):M972-7. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12457. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


The essential oils of 2 Cameroonian spices, namely, Xylopia aethiopica and Ocimum canum, were chemically investigated and screened for their antibacterial activity. The essential oils were analyzed by means of GC, GC/MS, and NMR. X. aethiopica oil contained myrtenol (12%), a monoterpenoid in highest concentration. The essential oil of O. canum belonged to the known linalool (44%) rich chemotype. The results of the antibacterial screening against the food spoiling bacteria revealed a significant and broad spectrum of activity for these essential oils. The present material of X. aethiopica, which is having myrtenol in relatively higher concentration, has shown moderate antibacterial activity. The bioassay-guided fractionation of Ocimum canum oil through flash chromatography showed that minor compounds, namely, α-terpineol, chavicol, chavibetol, and trans-p-mentha-2,8-dien-ol, significantly contributed for the overall activity observed. Hence, these results evidenced the possible potential of the essential oil of O. canum as a suitable antibacterial for controlling food-borne pathogens whereas the X. aethiopica oil has moderate possibility.

Practical application: There is a strong global demand for the microbe-free, safe, and healthy foods. In this study, we showed that the essential oil of O. canum (wild basil) can be used as antibacterial for food items. Also, we showed that a value addition in the antibacterial potential of O. canum oil can be done by processing the essential oil through flash chromatographic separations.

Keywords: Ocimum canum Sims; Xylopia aethiopica (Dun.) A. Rich; antibacterial; chemical composition; essential oil.

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Anisoles / analysis
  • Anisoles / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexenes / analysis
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology
  • Eugenol / analogs & derivatives
  • Eugenol / analysis
  • Eugenol / pharmacology
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Monoterpenes / analysis
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Ocimum / chemistry*
  • Ocimum basilicum / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Spices* / analysis
  • Xylopia / chemistry*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Anisoles
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • alpha-terpineol
  • Eugenol
  • estragole
  • linalool
  • chavibetol
  • myrtenol