Using Essential Oil Antibacterial Properties

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Essential oils hold huge promise in the treatment of varieties infectious disease, and are most readily utilized by the home-practitioner in the form of antibacterials, also known as 'antiseptics'. An antiseptic is formally defined as 'a substance which reduces the possibility of infection when topically applied to living tissue'. Essential oils do this job exceptionally well, working powerfully and quickly to support the healing of cuts and abrasions through the prevention of infections. Many do a double-duty of actually stimulating tissue regeneration, while keeping the area free from potentially harmful microorganisms.

Our best blend for potent antibacterial action is PuriFy, a combination of Clove, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Lemon and Cinnamon. We use this blend all the time when in need of an immune system boost and protection, particlarly when traveling. We also use our Super Immune formula, more specifically an anti-viral blend, also for the same purposes.

Possibly the most effective single essential oil is the "new" Benchmark Thyme essential oil. Developed by a company in the UK, it is actually a combination of pure essential oil from four strains of Thyme herb, created specifically for combating MRSA, a serious, life-threatening bacterial infection. As potent as it is, it still retains the gentleness of Thyme c.t. linalool, and can be applied directly to the skin in emergency situations. This is in contrast to Oregano and Cinnamon oils, which, while very potent antibacterials, can burn one's skin if applied at too high a concentration.


The Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils


Essential oils derive their antibacterial effect from their unique chemical makeup. Each single, pure essential oil consists of several, sometimes hundreds of distinct natural chemicals.
Many of these have antimicrobial activity, and show synergistic effects; blends of the chemicals - as found naturally in the oils - can be more potent than any individual chemical alone. Many studies have shown that Carvacrol, the primary molecule found in oil of Oregano, has exceptionally strong antimicrobial activity. Further studies have noted the combination of Carvacrol and Thymol (a minor constituent of the same oil) to be more potent than either of them alone. So the next time you might reach for Neosporin or rubbing alcohol, you might consider that the remedies nature has made will likely work better.

Research exists describing the effective, broad-spectrum of antibacterial action from essential oils, yet it is important to select the right oils in the right amounts. Topical application of Oregano may be the best solution for a case of stubborn nail fungus, yet this is far too intense for use on soft tissue of any kind, particularly for children. Often, home made formulas of a potent antiseptic with a known soothing oil can improve the overall effectiveness. Here we will briefly profile these highly-regarded oils, and look at some recipes and methods of application: Tea Tree (Maleluca alternafolia), Lavender (Lavendula angistifolia), Oregano (Oregano vulgar), Geranium (Geranium asperum) and Lemon. (Citrus limon).

Tea Tree may be the hands-down most popular antibacterial essential oil. Tea Tree is a must for every natural first aid kit for the home. One of the safest and most effective ways of controlling minor infections is the immediate intervention action of Tea Tree. Tea tree's tolerability allows it to be used for longer periods of time without the slightest irritation. A drop on a Band-Aid can keep the reddening indication of infection from children's cuts and scrapes, and when combined with Lavender, makes a soothing rendition of popular over-the-counter antibacterials. Tea tree can also be used directly on minor wounds for those with less sensitive skin, and is highly useful as an acne treatment - some individuals can use it 'neat', while others should dilute it in Hazelnut oil (a 'non-oily' base oil that will not exacerbate an over-oily skin condition). Rosalina essential oil from Australia, is known as Lavender Tea Trea, having the properties of both oils.

Lavender essential oil is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (AND stress reducer, especially for kids), and is helpful in the healing of small burns, cuts and insect bites. Lavender is a brilliant soothing agent for nearly every situation; its aroma will bring calm - a useful effect in many situations where an antiseptic is required. For healing unbroken skin such as burns, apply Lavender 'neat' to the wound several times a day; insect bites also get a 'neat' treatment. For cuts and scrapes, keep a one-to-one blend of Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils available for the best all-purpose antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving solution. for the young ones. This soothing, antiseptic formula can be applied directly to the skin in small amounts, or applied to dressings before application.

When more serious antibacterial action is necessary, natural medicine professionals turn to Oregano essential oil. Oregano's use in day-to-day applications are relatively limited due to its extreme potency - it should not be used topically except under the advice of a qualified practitioner, and then only in low dilutions for a limited period of time. Oregano is being studied extensively, however, for its potential use as a natural, effective antibiotic - particularly as many dangerous bacteria become resistant to pharmaceutical preparations. Oregano capsules are available at many health-food stores, and may be of use for systemic infections such as of the candida fungus or other bacteria; if you feel you or a family member could benefit from such immune system support, consult a qualified medical professional for advice.

Also a highly-regarded antibacterial, but with gentler action and scent, Geranium essential oil is a very worthwhile addition to the home medicine chest. Geranium has exceptional healing properties for the skin, creating balance between oily and dry states, and is useful for both over-oily and over-dry conditions.. A non-drying, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and general tonic, Geranium is described in the aromatherapy literature as a cure for acne, general dermatitis and eczema. Geranium essential oil is one of the few that has been used successfully against the MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) bacteria in laboratory studies (see Pub Med for research abstracts on this suject). Geranium may also be used as a local antiseptic for small wounds; there are many Geranium varieties available, though the oil produced in Egypt may be the most potent antimicrobial, with a brilliant sweet and herbaceous aroma accompanying its healing effects.

The 'old stand-by' of Lemon should not be overlooked when searching for ways to convert your home to a healthy 'green' lifestyle. Lemon oil, pressed from lemon peels, has historically been a component of many household cleaners - and because of its efficacy, low-cost and great aroma, it should continue to be. Lemon oil can be used alone at about 8 drops of oil per cup of warm water for an all-purpose mild antibacterial solution. You can add a little potency for kitchen and bathroom uses by adding oils like Eucalyptus, Pine, and Rosemary. Keep the total number of drops per oil the same, adding other oils in place of the Lemon. Eucalyptus may create the best antibacterial synergy, and additional oils will build on this effect. You may increase or decrease the essential oil concentration as you see fit - if increasing, simply test your new recipe in small increments to insure tolerance for yourself and your family.

There are many, many choices for antibacterial and antiseptic essential oils - these are a few of the most commonly used oils with a broad range of applications. Many oils, particularly when properly blended, can have greater specificity for your individual needs. There are many excellent books available by reputable authors - 'Advanced Aromatherapy' and 'Medical Aromatherapy' by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, and any of the books by Valerie Worwood are worth investigating to further your knowledge in the practical application of essential oils. These books cover the safe use of essential oils in general, and specific conditions you'll want to be aware of when delving deeper into aromatherapy. In selecting essential oils over synthetic preparations, you'll find great satisfaction making the natural choice for yourself and your family.


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*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of this oil. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
Essential oils considered to have potent antibacterial action:

Thyme
• Available in several chemotypes. A new blend of four strains called "Benchmark" Thyme (after the company who developed it) is very effective yet still very gentle.
Tea Tree
• Studied for MRSA treatment; the most commonly aromatic used as an antiseptic and antibacterial.
Geranium
• Also studied for MRSA treatment, excellent anti-fungal as well.
Oregano
• VERY potent, should be used with caution. Dilute concentrations only. Not for use on skin. Taken in capsules to treat IBS.
Cinnamon
• Also VERY potent, not for use on skin. Included in small amounts in blends.
Lemon
• Gentle yet effective oil, often used as household cleaner/spray. Wonderful bright aroma.
Lemon Tea Tree
• Potent cleanser of the air, strong antiseptic with pleasing lemon-like aroma.
Palmarosa
• Pleasant scented alternative to Tea Tree, used in skin and hair care recipes.
Myrtle
• Balancing of over-oily conditions, antiseptic, gently stimulating and regenerative.
Rosalina
• Called 'Lavender Tea Tree' as in incorporates the antibacterial action of Tea Tree and the soothing effects of Lavender. Exellent for children.
Rosemary
• High 1,8 Cineol concentration, specific to bacterial infections of the respiratory system.
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