Antifungal and Cytotoxic Activities of Sixty Commercially-Available Essential Oils

Molecules. 2018 Jun 27;23(7):1549. doi: 10.3390/molecules23071549.


There is an urgent and unmet need for new antifungal therapies. Global fungal infection rates continue to rise and fungal infections pose increasing burdens on global healthcare systems. Exacerbating the situation, the available antifungal therapeutic arsenal is limited and development of new antifungals has been slow. Current antifungals are known for unwanted side effects including nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity. Thus, the need for new antifungals and new antifungal targets is urgent and growing. A collection of 60 commercially-available essential oils has been screened for antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, and Cryptococcus neoformans, as well as for cytotoxic activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 human breast tumor cell lines; the chemical compositions of the essential oils have been determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Ten essential oils showed remarkable antifungal and cytotoxic activities: Indian, Australian, and Hawaiian sandalwoods; melissa; lemongrass; cilantro; cassia; cinnamon; patchouli; and vetiver.

Keywords: Aspergillus niger; Candida albicans; Cryptococcus neoformans; cytotoxicity; human breast tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Aspergillus / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / drug effects
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils