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Killing superbugs with clove

Killing superbugs with cloveIf essential oils are already used for their antibacterial and anti-infection properties, they could also serve to fight some hospital acquired infections. For a few years now, researchers have been studying this potential. They discovered that some essential oils are powerful enough to kill bacteria that usually resist to one or more antibiotics.


Research is being conducted notably on essential oils from clove, lemongrass, thyme or even oregano.


In Manchester, in the United Kingdom, a team reviewed the effect of essential oil vapours extracted from lemongrass and geranium in reducing bacteria present in the air and on surfaces. They discovered that spreading essential oil vapours could reduce 89% of the bacteria present in the air in an office environment.


At the Sligo Institute of Technology in Ireland, researchers are trying to understand which components of essential oils are the most efficient against these bacteria. They are studying how the essential oils could be used to treat patients directly.


The bacteria that are concerned, such as the staphylococcus, are responsible for infections acquired in hospital environments. Even if, in most cases, the infection is easily treated, some vulnerable patients can die from it. Also, these bacteria have developed a resistance to some antibiotics such as the methicillin or the vancomycin.


It is true that, for the moment, the studies have been conducted in laboratories. However, researchers hope to be able to apply the results directly in hospital environments.



If essential oils can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, could they be an alternative for the use of antibiotics in general?

Could they reduce the use of chemical products in the cleaning various areas?


Author : Pauline Boinot, M.Sc.



  • Doran A.L. (2009), W.E. Morden, K. Dunn, V. Edwards-Jones, Vapour-phase activities of Essentials oils against antibiotic sensitive and resistant bacteria including MRSA, Letters in Applied Microbiology 48: 387-392

  • McDonagh Marese, Essential oils capable of killing superbugs, research finds, The Irish Times, Dec 15 2009


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