Essential Oils: The Original Antimicrobial
Recently a group of researchers from the Debre Berhan University in Ethiopia found an interesting correlation between essential oils and significant antimicrobial properties. The particular essential oils mentioned in the study included Eucalyptus Globulus (eucalyptus), Matricaria Chamomilla (chamomile), Termitomyces Schimperi (Ejova), and Rosmarinus Officinalis (rosemary).
These essential oils were tested in various concentrations on bacteria and fungus including salmonella, staphyloccus, and E. coli. Each essential oil was pitted against the pharmaceutical drug gentamicin, an antimicrobial commonly sold under the name Garamycin. Garamycin is generally used to treat severe or serious bacterial infections and side effects include vision problems, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and itching or rash.
The results of the study found eucalyptus, rosemary, and Ejova inhibited bacterial growth just as well, if not better, than gentamicin. Ejova tested the best out of the oils with rosemary and eucalyptus tied for a close second. Chamomile came in last as a weak antimicrobial agent. Another interesting variable that differentiated the effectiveness of the oils was their individual concentrations. Ejova was the most effective antimicrobial even at its lowest concentration. Eucalyptus closely followed, being effective at mid to high concentrations, while rosemary was only effective at high concentrations.
While many essential oil users are very familiar with rosemary, eucalyptus, and chamomile, Termitomyces Schimperi isn’t a household name among oil circles. Found exclusively in select parts of Namibia, Ejova (as called by native occupants) is a fungus that grows on large termite mounds (hence its genus name “termitomyces”). Ejova is an exciting find as it is not traditionally a well known plant from which to distill essential oil, yet its strength as an antimicrobial matches if not outpaces its better known counterparts.
Overall, the research concluded three out of the four oils tested were strong antimicrobial agents. This research highlights the importance of using natural and easy to acquire holistic medicines in developing countries, especially as 60-80% of the world’s population relies on traditional medicine as more advanced methods of treatment are not readily available.
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