What is an essential oil? It’s a most remarkable substance extracted from flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, twigs, bark, herbs, wood, fruits and plant roots. The aromatic oil generally possesses a lower density than water and is extracted by hydro-distillation, steam distillation or dry distillation with the exception of citrus fruits. In citrus the oil is extracted (pressed) from the rind by a mechanical process (no heat).
Plants each possess their own unique scent. The aroma of each oil results from the combination of the aromas of all components of the plant material itself. Unlike synthetically derived fragrance oils (parfum), the constituents of essential oils are naturally occurring and their medicinal properties are naturally synergistic.
Essential oils derived from aromatic medicinal plants have been reported to exhibit exceptionally good antimicrobial effects against bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi, and viruses.
The antimicrobial properties of essential oils have been known for many centuries. In recent years (1987-2001), a large number of essential oils and their constituents have been investigated for their antimicrobial properties against some bacteria and fungi in more than 500 reports. Essential oils of spices and herbs (thyme, oregano(origanum), mint, cinnamon, salvia and clove) were found to possess the strongest antimicrobial properties among many tested.
The antimicrobial impacts of essential oils and their chemical components have been recognized by several researchers in the past. More recently, the prevalence of antimicrobial drug resistance has prompted researchers to discover new ways to treat various human pathogens. Furthermore, studies have shown the synergistic effect of ingredients in essential oils and their effect on various human pathogens. It is believed that essential oils could be useful in the control of epidemic multi-drug resistant pathogenic microorganisms and in combating various infectious diseases.
Today, essential oils are already employed in various applications including aromatherapy, chemotherapy and for the treatment of several diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and various cancers.
Stay tuned and we’ll discuss [synthetically derived] fragrance oil (often listed as parfum), which possesses NO medicinal qualities whatsoever, then you’ll really know why essential oils matter and why you’ll be ready to replace all fragranced product with plant derived.
Kalemba D, Kunicka A. Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Curr Med Chem. 2003 May;10(10):813-29. Review. PubMed PMID: 12678685.
Mallappa Kumara Swamy, Mohd Sayeed Akhtar, and Uma Rani Sinniah, “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 3012462, 21 pages, 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/3012462
Reichling J, Schnitzler P, Suschke U, Saller R, Essential Oils of Aromatic Plants with Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral, and Cytotoxic Properties – an Overview. Complement Med Res 2009;16:79-90