Anti-bacterial action of onion (Allium cepa L.) extracts against oral pathogenic bacteria

J Nihon Univ Sch Dent. 1997 Sep;39(3):136-41. doi: 10.2334/josnusd1959.39.136.


In this study, the focus was on the antibacterial activity of onions. This study researched the activities of onion extracts on Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, the main causal bacteria for dental caries, and Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia, considered to be the main causal bacteria of adult periodontitis. The results showed that the onion extracts possess an effect on all test bacterial strains (S.mutans JC-2, S. sobrinus OMZ176, P. gingivalis ATCC 33277 and P. intermedia ATCC 25611), and the effects were bactericidal against cultured and resting bacterial cells. The activity of the onion extracts was stable even after 48 hours in the culture medium. This result suggests that no decomposition or volatility of onion extracts occurred in the culture medium. The antibacterial activity of onion extracts was not markedly influenced by cysteine (10 mM) treatment. However, activity significantly decreased with alkali treatment. Grated onion left to stand at 37 degrees C for 48 hours did not show antibacterial activity. Also, activity of steam treated (100 degrees C, 10 min.) onion was not observed. Using avicel plate by thin layer chromatography with the solvent of n-butanol:acetic acid:water (3:3:1), the main component of the substance (the substance which develops color with ninhydrin) was observed at an Rf value of about 0.9.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Butanol / chemistry
  • Acetic Acid
  • Adult
  • Alkalies / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cellulose
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Culture Media
  • Cysteine / pharmacology
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ninhydrin
  • Onions* / chemistry
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / drug effects*
  • Prevotella intermedia / drug effects*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Steam
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Alkalies
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Culture Media
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Solvents
  • Steam
  • 1-Butanol
  • Cellulose
  • Ninhydrin
  • Cysteine
  • Acetic Acid