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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Apr;23(2):136-41. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Essential oils from aromatic herbs as antimicrobial agents.

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Medical Direction, Unidad Medica de Alta Especialidad Hospital de Pediatria, Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Av. Cuauhtemoc 330 Col. Doctores, México Distrito Federal, CP 06720, Mexico.


Bacterial resistance to multiple antibiotics is a health problem. Essential oils (EOs) possess antibacterial properties and have been screened as potential sources of novel antimicrobial compounds. Terpenes and terpenoids are components derived from EOs. Some of these EOs show inhibitory activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Carvacrol has specific effects on S. aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Perilla oil suppresses expression of α-toxin, Staphylococcus enterotoxin A and B and toxic shock syndrome toxin. Geraniol shows good activity in modulating drug resistance in several gram-negative species. EOs could act as biopreservatives, reducing or eliminating pathogenic bacteria and increasing the overall quality of animal and vegetable food products. Although clinical studies are scarce, the uses of EOs for topical administration and as penetration enhancers for antiseptics are promising. Little information exists for oral administration.

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