Antimicrobial Activity of Six Essential Oils Against a Group of Human Pathogens: A Comparative Study

Pathogens. 2019 Jan 28;8(1):15. doi: 10.3390/pathogens8010015.


Essential oils are concentrated natural extracts derived from plants, which were proved to be good sources of bioactive compounds with antioxidative and antimicrobial properties. This study followed the effect of some commonly used essential oils in micellar and aqueous extract on some of the most common pathogenic bacteria. Frankincense, myrtle, thyme, lemon, oregano and lavender essential oils were tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both micellar and aqueous extracts were used for determination of their minimal inhibitory (MIC) and bactericidal concentrations (MBC). The most active oils were oregano, thyme, lemon and lavender, while the least active were frankincense and myrtle. Oregano oil presented up to 64 times lower MICs/MBCs than ethylic alcohol, if considered as standard, on all bacteria. Most susceptible bacteria were the Gram-positive cocci, including methicillin resistant S. aureus, while the most resistant was P. aeruginosa. With some exceptions, the best activity was achieved by micelles suspension of essential oils, with MICs and MBCs ranging from 0.1% to > 50% v/v. Only oregano and lavender aqueous extracts presented bactericidal activity and only on K. pneumoniae (MIC = 6.3%). Thyme, lemon and oregano oils present significantly lower overall average MICs for their micellar form than for their aqueous extracts. The present results may suggest some formulas of colloid or micelle suspensions of whole essential oils such as oregano, thyme or lemon oil, that may help in antimicrobial fight. Aqueous extracts of oregano or thyme oil with good antibacterial activity could also be used in selected cases.

Keywords: antimicrobial agents; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (mrsa); micelles; minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC); volatile oils.