Objectives: This study was conducted to determine whether essential oils had anti-influenza A/WS/33 virus activity and whether there were specific compounds associated with this activity.
Methods: There were 63 essential oils evaluated for anti-influenza (A/WS/33 virus) activity using a cytopathic effect reduction method. The chemical composition of the anti-influenza essential oils was phytochemically analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Results: The antiviral assays demonstrated that 11 of the 62 essential oils (100 μg/mL) possessed anti-influenza activity, reducing visible cytopathic effects of influenza A/WS/33 virus activity by > 30%. Furthermore, marjoram, clary sage and anise oils exhibited anti-influenza A/WS/33 virus activity of > 52.8%. However, oseltamivir (the anti-influenza A and B drug), showed cytotoxicity at the same concentration (100 μg/mL) as the essential oils. The chemical composition detected by GC-MS analysis, differed amongst the 3 most potent anti-viral essential oils (marjoram, clary sage and anise oils) except for linalool, which was detected in all 3 essential oils.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated anti-influenza activity in 11 essential oils tested, with marjoram, clary sage and anise essential oils being the most effective at reducing visible cytopathic effects of the A/WS/33 virus. All 3 oils contained linalool, suggesting that this may have anti-influenza activity. Further investigation is needed to characterize the antiviral activity of linalool against influenza A/WS/33 virus.
Keywords: essential oils; influenza; linalool; virus.