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Antibacterial essential oils are the perfect replacement for that bottle of Neosporin or rubbing alcohol in your medicine chest.
Today, more and more people are acknowledging the fact that natural remedies are a far better alternative to prescription medicine for treating many of the common mild injuries we incur on a day-to-day basis.
There are a few essential oils that have excellent antibacterial properties, and you should keep them on hand at all times.
So how Exactly do Antibacterial Essential Oils Help?
Sometimes even a minor cut or scratch can lead to a much bigger health problem. That is because bacteria can invade and infect the injury complicating what would have been a minor injury, and make it far more severe.
When an antibacterial essential oil or oil blend is applied over the area, it prevents minor injuries from becoming more severe. Not only these oils effective but they are safe to use too.
Essential oils derive their antibacterial effect from their unique natural chemical composition. Each essential oil is made up of several, sometimes hundreds of distinct natural chemicals. Many are found to have antimicrobial activity and boast synergistic effects.
A blend of oils delivers more potency than any one oil can by itself. Several studies have found that Carvacrol, the primary molecule found in Oregano oil is more potent than others in its antimicrobial activity.
Other studies found that a blend of Carvacrol and Thymol are more potent together than on their own.
Why Antibacterial Essential Oils are Better than Prescription Antibiotics
Several studies have been done that show the downsides of overusing synthetically prepared medications. When we take any kind of medication, it may resolve one problem but it is just as likely to create some other problem. Consuming too many synthetic substances interferes with hormone secretion and behavior and also impairs cognitive function and the endocrine system.
Another huge downside to overuse of prescription antibiotics is that these medications are non-selective. This means they kill the good bacteria along with the bad. These good bacteria are essential to keeping us healthy. Killing these off makes us more susceptible to other bacterial infections in the long run.
Take for example hand sanitizers. We use them to sanitize our hands from bad bacteria but using hand sanitizers too often can be compared to bacterial overkill. If you are worried about bacterial infections when eating out or when traveling, it is a better idea to ditch that antibacterial soap and use antibacterial essential oils instead.
While in some cases medication is unavoidable, resorting to natural treatments is the safest way to deal with bacterial infections. Note of caution – before you switch over or make such radical decisions, it is always advisable to consult with your doctor and read as much as possible about potential risks so that you can make informed decisions.
1996 Study Reveals Top Antibacterial Essential Oils
In 1996, a study was conducted where 10 important essential oils were tested for their ability to repel 22 common forms of bacteria. Those clinical tests also subjected those same essential oils to 12 fungi that commonly infect humans. The findings were impressive, with 4 of the essential oils tested effective at repelling and treating all 22 bacterial strains.
Peppermint, Orange, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass oils inhibited all types of bacteria they were exposed to.
Palmarosa and Aegle essential oils inhibited 21 different bacteria.
Ageratum and Patchouli oils were successful in combating 20 of the 22 bacteria, with Geranium and Citronella oils effective in inhibiting at least a dozen bacterial strains.
Unfortunately, only a few essential oils were tested in that important 1996 experiment. More studies are yet to be done to discover which others oils have potent antibacterial properties. Despite the limitations of the studies, aromatherapy and essential oil practitioners have known for centuries that there are several more oils that offer antibacterial properties for particular applications.
Check out these oils that are regularly used in antibacterial applications.
- Tea Tree essential oil (also called Melaleuca oil) is known as an excellent acne treatment. This is because the specific bacteria, which cause and aggravate acne are warded off by the particular antibacterial properties that Tea Tree oil delivers.
- Lemon essential oil is likewise effective for treating skin conditions caused by bacterial infection.
- Eucalyptus essential oil works well as a natural pest repellent, and also as an anti-inflammatory application as well as an antibacterial agent.
- Lime essential oil is both antibacterial and antiseptic, and can be used without diluting.
- Thyme oil provides excellent defense as an antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiseptic agent, though it should probably be diluted in almost every case.
- Cassia, Cinnamon and Clove essential oils also have powerful antibacterial properties.
Choosing The Right Antibacterial Essential Oils
When using essential oils for antibacterial purposes, it is important to select the right variety for the purpose and just as important to use it in the right quantities.
Oregano is the go-to essential oils when significant antibacterial action is required. Recent studies are revealing that some strains of bacteria have become highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Instead of taking even more medication to overcome the bacterial infection, it is far better and safer to turn to oregano essential oil for its ability to fend off bacteria.
Oregano is a highly recommended essential oil for travelers. It can be a powerful ally especially during those times when you are stuck for way too long in a crowded transit area such as an airport or train station. Crowded transit stations are hotbeds of bacterial infections. The more time you spend at these places the higher the risk of infection. Adding a drop of oregano oil to your drink will fortify your immune system and protect you from potential bacterial infections.
Tea tree is one of the most widely used antibacterial essential oils for topical applications and makes an ideal all- natural addition to the family First Aid kit.
Extracted from the leaves of the tea tree or melaleuca plant, this is one of the very few essential oils that can be applied to the skin directly without diluting it first. It is very effective for calming down acne infections and flare ups.
When combined with eucalyptus oil and inhaled, whether directly, in a diffuser or in a nebulizer, tea tree oil helps suppress mucus formation and fight infections related to chest cold.
Geranium essential oil is another great option to have on hand at home, as it is an antibacterial that is gentler in action and scent. It has significant healing properties, and is ideal for both dry and oily skin, allowing for an antiseptic that will not dry out any skin type.
As an anti-inflammatory, astringent and general tonic, Geranium is also good for treating acne, general dermatitis and eczema.
Some studies that were done in 2006 indicated that cinnamon may be the most powerful antibacterial of all essential oils.
Cinnamon oil is very effective at inhibiting bacterial growth after a root canal procedure and is highly recommended as a natural alternative to taking antibiotics after this invasive dental treatment.
When put in a diffuser it acts as an air purifier and kills off airborne bacteria. For a super-effective antibacterial blend, mix together a few drops of cinnamon, eucalyptus and tea tree oils in the diffuser.
Lavender essential oil has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Well-known for its stress reducing properties, lavender oil is also great for treating cuts, insect bites, burns, and scrapes.
Thyme oil has strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which makes it excellent for use as a natural food preservative instead of the conventional approach that involved using chemical preservatives.
The diffused aromas of thyme essential oils can also be inhaled to fight off cold and upper respiratory conditions.
Clove essential oil is most commonly used to treat toothaches. Interestingly, its first documented use as a treatment for toothaches goes as far back as 1640.
Its rich eugenol content gives clove oil its strong antibacterial properties. In addition to treating toothaches, it can also be applied topically with a carrier oil to treat skin conditions such as warts and acne.
It can also be inhaled to treat coughs, colds and other respiratory problems.
The strong antibacterial properties of lemongrass essential oil stem from its rich limonene and citral content.
It inhibits the internal and external growth of bacteria, fights bacterial infections and suppresses body odor.
Uses & Benefits of Antibacterial Essential Oils
These oils can be used for a wide variety of purposes including but not limited to:
- Combating staph infections – a blend of geranium oil and grapefruit seed extract is the most effective for this purpose.
- Fighting bacterial infections such as salmonella and candida – vetiver oil and thyme essential oil showed positive results in their ability to fight bacterial infections.
- Staving off infections found in hospitals – eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil are excellent for protecting against infections found in hospitals.
- Protecting against bacteria while traveling – crowded transit areas such as airports and train stations are hotbeds of bacteria infections. The more time you spend at these places the higher the risk of infection. Adding a drop of oregano oil to your drink will fortify your immune system and reduce the likelihood of a bacterial infection.
Precautions To Heed When Using Antibacterial Essential Oils
All essential oils, including those that are antibacterial, are highly concentrated extracts of plants and have to be used sparingly and correctly in order to get the benefits without suffering from the side effects.
Make sure you consult with your doctor or with a qualified aromatherapist before you use antibacterial essential oils.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.