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Essential oils -A new horizon in combating “Superbugs”
9/28/2023 10:39:31 PM
Mrs Radhika Sharma

Herbs and the essential oils derived from them have been used from the beginning of human history for different purposes. Their beneficial properties have been applied to mask unpleasant odors, attract the attention of other people, add flavor and aroma properties to prepared dishes, perfumes, and cosmetics, etc. Herbs and essential oils (EOs) have also been used in medicine because of their biological properties, such as larvicidal action, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant, fungicide, and antitumor activities, and many more. Many EOs exhibit antimicrobial properties, which is extremely important in fields of science and industry, such as medicine, agriculture, or cosmetology. Antimicrobial Resistance. Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Resistant infections can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.when the microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as “SUPERBUGS”.
The main cause of antibiotic resistance is antibiotic use. When we use antibiotics, some bacteria die but resistant bacteria can survive and even multiply. The overuse of antibiotics makes resistant bacteria more common. The more we use antibiotics, the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. Antimicrobial resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever increasing range of infections caused by various microorganisms.There is resurgence in the use of herbal medicines worldwide because of fewer adverse side effects, renewability and better biodegradability.
common Antimicrobial resistance microorganisms are:
1. METHICILLIN-RESISTANT-Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive spherically shaped bacterium, a member of the Bacillota, and is a usual member of the microbiota of the body, frequently found in the upper respiratory tract and on the skin.
An estimated 20% to 30% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus,which can be found as part of the normal skin microbiota, in the nostrils, and as a normal inhabitant of the lower reproductive tract of females. Staphylococcus. aureus can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections, such as pimples,impetigo, boils, cellulitis, folliculitis, carbuncles, scalded skin syndrome, and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia, and sepsis. It is still one of the five most common causes of hospital-acquired infections and is often the cause of wound infections following surgery.
vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), are bacterial strains of the genus Enterococcus that are resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin.
VRE is usually spread by direct contact with hands, environmental surfaces or medical equipment that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
3. MULTI-DRUG-RESISTANT- Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB)
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that are resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most potent TB drugs. These drugs are used to treat all persons with TB disease.
The main causes of MDR-TB are: inappropriate medical prescription; poor quality of anti-TB drugs; interruptions in treatment; nonexistent national TB control programmes; lack of standardised guidelines; inefficient supervision by healthcare providers; and failure to complete treatment.
4. CARBAPENEM-RESISTANT - Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) gut bacteria.
When Enterobacterales develop resistance to the group of antibiotics called carbapenems, the germs are called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE).
Examples of germs in the Enterobacterales order include Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Various essential oils used as antimicrobial agents are as follows:
1.OREGANO (Origanum vulgare) Several studies have shown the powerful antibacterial properties of oregano oil, even against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. oregano oil was found to be the best at hindering bacterial growth.Topical oregano oil has been shown to be effective in wound treatment and healing, even killing off methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
2. EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus)
It is an active ingriedient of many topical cough and cold medicines available in markets. Eucalyptus species are well known as medicinal plants because of their biological and pharmacological properties. In the international pharmacopeia, the most important and represented species, which is the main furnisher of essential oils. These essential oils are in great demand in the market, since they find applications as anesthetic, anodyne, antiseptic, astringent, deodorant, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, febrifuge, fumigant, hemostat, inhalant, insect repellant, preventitive, rubefacient, sedative yet stimulant, vermifuge, for a folk remedy for abscess, arthritis, asthma, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, diabetes, diarrhea, diphtheria, dysentery, encephalitis, enteritis, erysipelas, fever, flu, inflammation, laryngalgia, laryngitis, leprosy, malaria, mastitis, miasma, pharygnitis, phthisis, rhinitis, sores, sore throat, spasms, trachalgia, worms, and wounds. Sometimes their demand is
also high in the soap and cosmetic industries.
The essential oils of this plant were obtained by the hydrodistillation method. The inhibitory effects of this essential oil were tested against Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) by using agar disc diffusion and dilution broth methods.The results obtained showed that essential oil of the leaves of E. globulus has antimicrobial activity against gram negative bacteria (E. coli) as well as gram positive bacteria (S. aureus). Eucalyptus Essential Oil revitalizes skin and tired muscles, facilitates easy breathing, enhances feelings of relaxation, and soothes nervous tension. In a bath, Eucalyptus Essential Oil soothes irritated skin, relieves pain, protects against infection, and rejuvenates sore muscles.
3. CLOVE (Syzigium aromaticum) .
Clove oil can be obtained from the flower buds of Syzigium aromaticum, family Myrtaceae. Clove oil has biological activities, such as antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal and antioxidant properties, and is used traditionally as a savoring agent and antimicrobial material in food . In addition, clove oil contains EUGENOL a chemical that acts as antibacterial and anesthetic agent, is used as an antiseptic in oral infections.Clove contain an active ingredient that numbs the nerve in your mouth, offering relief ,a natural anesthetic agent. It kills many bacteria like Listeria, Campylobacter,E.coli etc. clove oil has wide applications in dentistry and inhibit decalcification.
4. Peppermint (Mentha piperita )
Peppermint oil with menthol and menthone as the main components exhibit high antimicrobial activities against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria ,Yeast, Fungi especially against Candida albicans. peppermint leave’s juice has higher antibacterial activity against Gram negative Bacilli and very effective in killing E.coli ,S.aureus, Aspergillus niger. The oil has good antioxidant activity also .It is also used as antacid , mouth freshner and an active ingriedient in various dental treatment products.Various studies showed The Antihelmentic effect of Peppermint Menthol extract is comparable with Albendazole , that kills the intestinal worms.
5. TEA TREE ( Melaleuca alternifolia)
It is an evergreen shrub or small tree , oil has wide industrial applications as it is used widely in cosmetic industry. It is also known as Melaleuca oil, is essential oil that comes from the leaves of the Australian Tea Tree. When used Topically Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antifungal, commonly used to treat acne, athletes foot, lice, nail fungus and insect bite.volatile essential oil is an active ingredient in many topical formulations used to treat Cutaneous infections. Oil is effective against Dermatophytes, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis.
6. Neem (Azadirachta indica)
It is commonly known as Margosa, Nimtree, Idian lilac, grown around the world in Tropical and Subtropical areas. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil. Margosa fruit, seeds, leaves, stem and bark contain diverse photochemicals. The natural medicinal value of neem is the reason, it is used in manufacturing medicines that treat ailments such as digestive problems, blood disorders, diabetes and arthritis. Oil is an extremely effective oral remedy for all dental problemslike tooth plaque, gingivitis etc. Neem oil is also used to treat acne, fungal infections, healing wounds, stimulate collagen, reduced post acne scars and minimize skin inflammation.
Apart from above mentioned plants , The Food and Agriculture organization estimated in 2002 that over 50,000 -80,000 medicinal plants are used across the world.Use of medicinal plants is as old as civilization itself. The world health organization estimated that 80% of the population of the developing countries rely on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs , for their primary health care need.wih sustainable use and further research medicinal plants provide solutions to many of the heath challenges facing humanity today.
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