Comparison of antimicrobial activities of natural essential oils and synthetic fragrances against selected environmental pathogens

Biochim Open. 2017 Sep 13:5:8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.biopen.2017.09.001. eCollection 2017 Dec.


Plant essential oils (EOs) are known to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Whether these antimicrobial effects are comparable to synthetic household products is less clear. Furthermore, limited research is available on the potential additive effect of blending EOs. In this investigation, a new EO blend containing orange, patchouli, peppermint, and clary sage was compared to its individual single oils and to three household products-air freshener, liquid soap, and body spray-for their ability to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudonomas aeruginosa, and Aspergillus brasiliensis in the disc-diffusion assay. The new EO blend significantly inhibited the growth of the four microorganisms. The zones of inhibition of new EO blend were greater than the air freshener and similar to the liquid soap and body spray, with the exception of Str. pneumoniae in which the body spray provided greater inhibitory zone. The new EO blend and the single oils, with the exception of peppermint, equally inhibited the growth of S. aureus and Str. pneumoniae suggesting no additive effect. P. aeruginosa and A. brasiliensis showed variable susceptibility to all EOs except for no susceptibility to orange and limonene. No difference was found between (-) and (+)-limonene; whereas, (+)-menthol showed greater effect than (-)-menthol. In conclusion, blending the EO of orange, patchouli, peppermint, and clary sage was beneficial in inhibiting the growth of S. aureus, Str. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, and A. brasiliensis providing a natural antimicrobial fragrance option over synthetics fragrances used in soaps, body sprays, and air fresheners.

Keywords: Air freshener; Body spray; Essential oils; Soap.