Herbs and the essential oils derived from them have been used from the beginning of human history for different purposes. Their beneficial properties have been applied to mask unpleasant odors, attract the attention of other people, add flavor and aroma properties to prepared dishes, perfumes, and cosmetics, etc. Herbs and essential oils (EOs) have also been used in medicine because of their biological properties, such as larvicidal action, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant, fungicide, and antitumor activities, and many more. Many EOs exhibit antimicrobial properties, which is extremely important in fields of science and industry, such as medicine, agriculture, or cosmetology. Among the 250 EOs which are commercially available, about a dozen possess high antimicrobial potential. According to available papers and patents, EOs seem to be a potential alternative to synthetic compounds, especially because of the resistance that has been increasingly developed by pathogenic microorganisms. In this review we summarize the latest research studies about the most-active EOs that are known and used because of their antimicrobial properties. Finally, it is noteworthy that the antimicrobial activities of EOs are not preeminent for all strains. Further investigations should, thus, focus on targeting EOs and microorganisms.
Keywords: antibacterial activity; antifungal activity; cajuput oil; cinnamon oil; clove oil; essential oils; eucalyptus oil; lavender oil; peppermint oil; sage oil; tea tree oil; thyme oil.