An Overview of the Potential Therapeutic Applications of Essential Oils

Molecules. 2021 Jan 26;26(3):628. doi: 10.3390/molecules26030628.


The emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has urged researchers to explore therapeutic alternatives, one of which includes the use of natural plant products such as essential oils (EO). In fact, EO obtained from clove, oregano, thymus, cinnamon bark, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender have been shown to present significant inhibitory effects on bacteria, fungi, and viruses; many studies have been done to measure EO efficacy against microorganisms. The strategy of combinatory effects via conventional and non-conventional methods revealed that the combined effects of EO-EO or EO-antibiotic exhibit enhanced efficacy. This paper aims to review the antimicrobial effects of EO, modes of EO action (membrane disruption, efflux inhibition, increase membrane permeability, and decrease in intracellular ATP), and their compounds' potential as effective agents against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It is hoped that the integration of EO applications in this work can be used to consider EO for future clinical applications.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; carvacrol; cinnamon bark; essential oils; genomics; oregano; proteomics; synergistic activity; thymol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Communicable Diseases / microbiology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Viruses / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils