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bacterial infections

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Infections to compare bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitical.

Bacterial infections are prevalent and the cause much discomfort and illness.  Below is a brief description of bacterial infections in general and links to some common health concerns caused by bacterial infections.

Following this brief introduction are comparisons of bacterial and viral infections and a discussion of MRSA.


This is a one cell organism that are prolific in many places in our environment.  Many of these exist very well in the comfortable environment of the human body.  Of those that live in or on the human body 99% are good or helpful.  Unfortunately the remaining one percent can cause a number of uncomfortable or serious health concerns.  Examples of common diseases caused by bacteria are:


  Ear infections


  Kidney infection





  Strep throat





Infections – Bacterial vs. Viral  (see also MRSA)

Robert James    

Viruses are about 100 times smaller that bacteria.  And about 100 times harder to get rid of than bacteria.  Viruses also live and reproduce inside a host cell.  They are basically a protein that has either a DNA or RNA gene molecules.  Viruses are harder to kill because they are not exactly alive in the first place.  Antibiotics have no effect on viruses.  Most control of virus comes in the form or prevention or immunization. If a doctor prescribes an anti-biotic for a virus, it is likely for a placebo effect.  It will not help.  

Bacterium, is a living cell that has all the biological workings for carrying out life processes, including reproduction.  Unlike the bacterium a virus is nothing more than a single or double strand of RNA or DNA wrapped in a coat of protein. Not all bacteria are bad, and the good bacteria in our body is essential for many functions. 

Some essential oils have been studied for their anti-viral activity. Many more are considered effective against bacteria.  The most amazing thing about essential oils and bacteria is their ability to effectively kill bad bacteria while leaving good bacteria alone!

Oils that inhibit the growth of micro organisms like bacteria or fungi (antibacterial) are Basil, Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Melaleuca, Myrrh, Orange, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary and Thyme.

Oils that have been studied to help control viral infections include, Basil, Cassia, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Lemon, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Melaleuca, Myrrh. Oregano, and Thyme.

It is difficult to make clear cut decisions on which oils do what.  Some oils may have properties that test as very effective at inhibiting viral growth, but the percentage of the property contained as a constituent may be quite small.  They also may have two such properties, and synergistically they might be fairly effective together at attacking bacteria or virus respectively.

In reading several books by trusted doctors, PhD's and scientists, we find that they often do not cite the same oils as having the same results but I have looked for those with a common consensus. Constituents that seem to have that common consensus for antiviral activity include, but are not limited to; anethole, carvone, beta-caryophyllene, citral, eugenol, limonene, linalool, and linalyl acetate.

Some essential oils are believed to attack viruses in the host cells, at a cellular level. That is why I personally believe I've seen oils like Oregano effective against SARs and shingles. Of course, many essential oils are well known for their ability to stimulate the immune system and offer some indirect protection against viral infection through these effects.


MRSA, what is it?

Robert James    

A common misconception is that MRSA is a virus or caused by virus.  In fact you will probably still find some argument about it.  But my understanding is that MRSA is not caused by a virus. Instead, MRSA is a strain of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureas. MRSA even got its name because it is a bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin. It has since become resistant to almost all types of antibiotics.  If you get MRSA, and a hospital is treating it, it almost become a game of cat and mouse as they determine what antibiotic might be most effective in your body vs. dealing with horrific side effects and allergic reactions - or in other words, your body saying; WAIT!  What the he#% is that!!

New strains of MRSA have recently emerged in the community that are capable of causing severe infections in otherwise healthy individuals. These MRSA infections are known as CAMRSA or community-associated MRSA. MRSA infections that are acquired in the hospitals and healthcare facilities are known as healthcare-associated MRSA.

Depending on where you get your statistics from.  If you get MRSA during a hospital stay, you have about a 5-10% chance of dying. MRSA now kills more people than the aids virus.  The actual numbers that die annually from MRSA or Staph are all over the board, but I assume quite understated.  (of course I'm a "conspiracy theory" kinda guy)  All I know is that my grandmother died of it after a simple operation, and my uncle got a blood infection (staph) after he had a stint put in... (thank goodness for Frankincense and Melaleuca!)


[search help: bacteria, bacterial, antibacterial, anti-bacterial, fungi, fungus, fungal, antifungal, anti-fungal, virus, viruses, virii, antiviral, anti-viral, infection

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends: 

Most recommended: CinnamonC, CloveC, LemonC, LimeC, On GuardC, PurifyC

Also recommended: Basil, BreatheC, CassiaC, Clary SageC, ClearSkin, Cypress, Eucalyptus, FrankincenseC, GeraniumC, GrapefruitC, HelichrysumC, Lavender, LemongrassC, MarjoramEC, MelaleucaC, Myrrh, OreganoC, PeppermintC, Roman ChamomileE, RosemaryC, ThymeC, Wild Orange

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:

See individual health concerns for detailed protocols. 

Note that an infection can be the result of a variety of strains of bacteria, virus, etc. and that different oils may be more potent than others against a particular strain.  That is the advantage of some of the blends of oils such as ClearSkin, DigestZen, On Guard, Purify.  These blends are made up of some of the most potent oils hence the blend when used will cover a much wider variety of potential strains.

Editorial note: Research at Loyola in India with interesting data is included under the Scientific Facts tab.  It includes data below showing the effectiveness of 21 essential oils against 6 common bacterial infections (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus).  The results are compared with Streptomycin (a very strong pharmaceutical) and also includes very interesting information on the effectiveness vs. concentation of the oils.  The 21 oils included were: Aniseed, Calamus, Camphor, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Citronella, Clove, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Nutmeg, Orange, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Rosemary, Basil, Vetiver, Wintergreen. A quick summary of these results showing the three most effective oils is:

Staphylococcus aureus: Cinnamon, Lemon, Clove

Bacillus subtilis: Cinnamon, Lime, Geranium

Klebsiella pneumoniae: Cinnamon, Lemon, Clove

Proteus vulgaris: Cinnamon, Orange, Lemon

Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Cinnamon, Lime, Lemongrass

Escherichia coli: Cinnamon, Orange, Lime

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

Extract from PubMed.com

Journal of  Applied  Microbiology. 1999 Jun;86(6):985-90.

Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts.

Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV.

Department of Microbiology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia. khammer@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

The antimicrobial activity of plant oils and extracts has been recognized for many years. However, few investigations have compared large numbers of oils and extracts using methods that are directly comparable. In the present study, 52 plant oils and extracts were investigated for activity against Acinetobacter baumanii, Aeromonas veronii biogroup sobria, Candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia col, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype typhimurium, Serratia marcescens and Staphylococcus aureus, using an agar dilution method. Lemongrass, Oregano and bay inhibited all organisms at concentrations of < or = 2.0% (v/v). Six oils did not inhibit any organisms at the highest concentration, which was 2.0% (v/v) oil for apricot kernel, evening primRose, macadamia, pumpkin, sage and sweet almond. Variable activity was recorded for the remaining oils. Twenty of the plant oils and extracts were investigated, using a broth microdilution method, for activity against C. albicans, Staph. aureus and E. coli. The lowest minimum inhibitory concentrations were 0.03% (v/v) Thyme oil against C. albicans and E. coli and 0.008% (v/v) Vetiver oil against Staph. aureus. These results support the notion that plant essential oils and extracts may have a role as pharmaceuticals and preservatives.


Brooke - From a presentation  by Nicole Stevens of Brigham Young University and UNLV Cancer Research Institute.

Nicole Stevens mentioned oils that they were studying for anti-bacterial properties, specifically testing against Salmonella, Ecoli, and Staph.

Excellent - Those oils that had an excellent “zone of inhibition” were:  Basil, On-Guard, Cinnamon, Thyme, and Oregano (plate was clean)

Good -  Those with good “zone’s of inhibition” were:  Clove, Melaleuca and Purify

Some - The others that had “some” area – but not considered ‘as effective’ were: Lemon, Rosemary, and Orange.  (That is not to say they didn’t have an effect – but just not as powerful as the others.)

Another thing said was that even diluted by 10,000 times On-Guard was still effective against bacteria. 


Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in MDCK cells.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Nov 15;10:69;   Wu S, Patel KB, Booth LJ, Metcalf JP, Lin HK, Wu W.;   Department of Respiratory Medicine, the first Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215006, PR China.



Influenza is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. The recent pandemic of a novel H1N1 influenza virus has stressed the importance of the search for effective treatments for this disease. Essential oils from aromatic plants have been used for a wide variety of applications, such as personal hygiene, therapeutic massage and even medical practice. In this paper, we investigate the potential role of an essential oil in antiviral activity.


We studied a commercial essential oil blend, On Guard™, and evaluated its ability in modulating influenza virus, A/PR8/34 (PR8), infection in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. Influenza virus was first incubated with the essential oil and infectivity in MDCK cells was quantified by fluorescent focus assay (FFA). In order to determine the mechanism of effects of essential oil in viral infection inhibition, we measured hemagglutination (HA) activity, binding and internalization of untreated and oil-treated virus in MDCK cells by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. In addition, the effect of oil treatment on viral transcription and translation were assayed by relative end-point RT-PCR and western blot analysis.


Influenza virus infectivity was suppressed by essential oil treatment in a dose-dependent manner; the number of nascent viral particles released from MDCK cells was reduced by 90% and by 40% when virus was treated with 1:4,000 and 1:6,000 dilutions of the oil, respectively. Oil treatment of the virus also decreased direct infection of the cells as the number of infected MDCK cells decreased by 90% and 45% when virus was treated with 1:2,000 and 1:3,000 dilutions of the oil, respectively. This was not due to a decrease in HA activity, as HA was preserved despite oil treatment. In addition, oil treatment did not affect virus binding or internalization in MDCK cells. These effects did not appear to be due to cytotoxicity of the oil as MDCK cell viability was only seen with concentrations of oil that were 2 to 6 times greater than the doses that inhibited viral infectivity. RT-PCR and western blotting demonstrated that oil treatment of the virus inhibited viral NP and NS1 protein, but not mRNA expression.


An essential oil blend significantly attenuates influenza virus PR8 infectivity in vitro without affecting viral binding or cellular internalization in MDCK cells. Oil treated virus continued to express viral mRNAs but had minimal expression of viral proteins, suggesting that the antiviral effect may be due to inhibition of viral protein translation.


From US National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health)

In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils, Published 2006 November 30, Seenivasan Prabuseenivasan, Manickkam Jayakumar and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu; Loyola College, Chennai, India.


To evaluate the antibacterial activity of 21 plant essential oils against six bacterial species.


The selected essential oils were screened against four gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris) and two gram-positive bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus at four different concentrations (1:1, 1:5, 1:10 and 1:20) using disc diffusion method. The MIC of the active essential oils were tested using two fold agar dilution method at concentrations ranging from 0.2 to 25.6 mg/ml.


Out of 21 essential oils tested, 19 oils showed antibacterial activity against one or more strains. Cinnamon, Clove, Geranium, Lemon, Lime, Orange and Rosemary oils exhibited significant inhibitory effect. Cinnamon oil showed promising inhibitory activity even at low concentration, whereas aniseed, Eucalyptus and camphor oils were least active against the tested bacteria. In general, B. subtilis was the most susceptible. On the other hand, K. pneumoniae exhibited low degree of sensitivity.


Majority of the oils showed antibacterial activity against the tested strains. However Cinnamon, Clove and Lime oils were found to be inhibiting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Cinnamon oil can be a good source of antibacterial agents.

Editorial note: This research included the data below showing the effectiveness of these essential oils compared with Streptomycin (see last line) and also very interesting information on the effectiveness vs. concentation.

Antimicrobial activity of 21 essential oils against S. aureus, B. subtilis, K. pneumoniae, P. vulgaris, P. aeruginosa and E. coli  using disc diffusion method
Oil Name S. aureus B. subtilis K. pneumoniae P. vulgaris P. aeruginosa E. coli
Concentration 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20 1:1 1:5 1:10 1:20
Aniseed oil - - - - 12.10 10.80 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Calamus oil - - - - 17.90 14.70 12.60 11.30 - - - - 11.10 9.20 - - 13.80 12.80 9.20 8.30 - - - -
Camphor oil - - - - - - - - 8.50 - - - 8.80 - - - 10.00 - - - 8.80 - - -
Cedar wood - - - - 13.40 12.20 99.00 - - - - - 14.10 12.90 8.20 - 15.60 14.10 8.23 - - - - -
Cinnamon oil 20.80 18.70 14.80 13.70 29.90 27.80 24.10 22.80 27.50 23.50 20.90 18.60 29.40 27.00 18.6 2 14.10 33.30 32.20 24.40 21.00 29.80 26.00 23.80 21.00
Citronella oil 15.80 10.30 - - 14.60 12.50 10.30 9.30 - - - - 19.50 11.30 - - 12.10 10.40 - - - - - -
Clove oil 16.30 14.00 8.10 9.80 14.50 13.10 10.10 8.90 16.20 14.40 8.40 - 20.10 18.20 11.80 8.00 17.40 15.50 8.50 - 17.40 15.10 10.80 8.00
Eucalyptus oil - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8.50 - - -
Geranium oil 10.40 8.90 - - 17.20 14.70 - - 10.80 9.00 - - 19.00 14.60 11.00 8.30 21.50 19.20 9.40 - 14.10 10.40 - -
Lavender - - - - 12.50 11.10 - - - - - - 10.80 9.30 - - 12.10 9.90 - - - - - -
Lemon oil 17.50 14.50 8.30 - 16.90 14.50 8.90 - 16.50 15.30 8.70 - 22.50 18.90 15.50 10.70 21.40 19.90 9.10 - 21.60 18.90 10.60 -
Lemongrass oil 11.40 8.90 - - 16.70 15.10 8.90 - 8.30 - - - 14.60 12.10 9.50 - 23.40 19.60 9.10 - - - - -
Lime oil 14.20 12.70 10.30 9 0 23.90 20.80 15.80 14.10 16.10 14.60 12.90 12.60 27.80 24.00 17.90 13.00 25.50 23.50 13.60 9.30 22.70 18.90 15.60 17.60
Nutmeg 11.70 9.10 - - 11.50 10.90 - - - - - - 14.50 11.90 8.00 - 15.50 12.90 - - - - - -
Orange oil 12.80 10.60 - - 18.60 15.70 9.40 10.60 11.90 9.31 - - 23.70 22.20 16.50 10.70 21.60 18.80 9.40 - 22.90 19.40 12.40 -
Palmarosa oil 12.50 10.90 8.00 - 15.40 14.20 12.50 11.30 - - - - 19.00 15.80 9.90 - 14.40 13.20 9.20 - 8.20 - - -
Peppermint oil 8.10 - - - 10.60 8.60 - - - - - - 8.50 - - - 13.40 11.20 - - - - - -
Rosemary oil 12.50 10.60 8.60 - 14.70 12.80 11.20 8.90 11.90 9.90 - - 17.40 15.90 9.70 - 23.40 21.90 14.50 8.30 17.50 15.10 9.10 -
Basil oil 10.30 8.30 - - - - - - - - - - 8.90 - - - 8.23 - - - 10.50 8.20 - -
Vetiver oil - - - - 18.90 15.60 12.80 11.60 - - - - 11.50 10.30 11.40 - 13.50 11.70 8.20 - - - - -
Wintergreen 8.70 - - - 9.90 9.10 - - - - - - 15.80 14.80 9.50 - 10.2 - - - 8.90 - - -
Streptomycin** 20.90 26.90 20.90 18.40 16.40 21.20



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.