by Case Adams, ND

Good wound dressings are critical to preventing severe infections after an injury. Recent research has confirmed that applying antiseptic essential oils makes for a great alternative to antibiotic creams and other dressings, which often produce antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.

The first study, from the Polytechnical University of Bucharest, tested surgical wound bandages supplied by a German would dressing provider against biofilms of Candida albicans.

The researchers grew the biofilms and applied them to wound bandages that were either coated with essential oils from Salvia officinalis (Sage) and Anethum graveolens (Dill).

The Anethum graveolens essential oil was found to contain antimicrobial compounds such as limonene, carvone and phellandrene, while Salvia officinalis was found the contain thujone, eucalyptol, pinene and camphene. These compounds have each been independently tested in other studies and found to have significant antimicrobial potency.

Another recent study also found essential oils provide a superior antimicrobial activity when applied to wound dressings. Polish university researchers utilized a formula of four essential oils, and found they significantly inhibited the growth of both Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.

Other research has found similar properties. Researchers from the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University tested several essential oils against three different strains of MRSA bacteria – MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The researchers tested several essential oils against the MRSA. These included patchouli essential oil, tea tree essential oil, geranium essential oil, lavender essential oil and grapefruit seed extract oil. The researchers applied each individually and in combinations to wound dressings and tested their zones of inhibition against the bacteria. They also compared the antibacterial effects against standard antibacterial dressings such as Flamazine cream (silver sulfadiazine).

The researchers found that a combination of grapefruit seed extract and the geranium oil inhibited the MRSA strains the most. Meanwhile, a combination of geranium and tea tree oil inhibited the S. aureas that was not resistant to antibiotics.

The researchers concluded:

“This study demonstrates the potential of essential oils and essential oil vapours as antibacterial agents and for use in the treatment of MRSA infection.”

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Ion Anghel1, Alina Maria Holban, Ecaterina Andronescu, Alexandru Mihai, Grumezescu, Mariana Carmen Chifiriuc. Efficient surface functionalization of wound dressings by a phytoactive nanocoating refractory to Candida albicans biofilm development. Biointerphases 2013, 8:12.

Budzyńska A, Sadowska B, Wieckowska-Szakiel M, Rózalska B. [In vitro efficacy analysis of absorbent dressing modified with essential oils, against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans]. Med Dosw Mikrobiol. 2013;65(2):77-86.

Edwards-Jones V, Buck R, Shawcross SG, Dawson MM, Dunn K. The effect of essential oils on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a dressing model. Burns. 2004 Dec;30(8):772-7.

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