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Antimicrobial Essential Oils. Nicole Stevens. Scientific research behind thyme, oregano and clove. Scope. Parasitic infection is worldwide Outranks cancer as #1 global killer The Center for Disease Control estimates: 62 million cases of infectious illness in the US yearly.

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antimicrobial essential oils

Antimicrobial Essential Oils

Nicole Stevens

Scientific research behind thyme, oregano and clove

  • Parasitic infection is worldwide
    • Outranks cancer as #1 global killer
  • The Center for Disease Control estimates:
    • 62 million cases of infectious illness in the US yearly.
    • Common cold caused by any of 200 different viruses, of which 30%-50% remain unidentified.
    • 10%-15% of adult colds are caused by viruses also responsible for more serious illnesses
  • There are over 1,000 species of parasites that can live in your body.
    • Doctors can only identify and test for 5% of these parasites.
  • Several parasites have emerged as significant causes of food borne and waterborne diseases.
  • 30% of parasites live in our digestive system;
  • 70% live throughout the body including the blood, brain, eyes and sinus.


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  • Not all parasites produce acute illness—many cause subtler chronic symptoms
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Allergies
    • Weight loss
    • Ravenous appetite
    • Abdominal bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, nausea
    • Fever
    • Joint pain
    • Disturbed sleep
    • Muscle cramps
    • Sugar cravings

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  • In the US annually:
    • $3.5 billion spent on OTC cough remedies
    • $2 million spent on “natural” medicines that fight colds
    • $1.3 billion spent on direct medical costs to fight flus
    • 70 million work-loss days associated with illness
    • Lost productivity in the workplace costs businesses $15 billion

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tiny creatures big problem
Tiny Creatures, BIG Problem

“The worldwide overuse of antibiotics has caused microorganisms to develop resistance to current antibiotics and to become virulent.”

(Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, Jan. 9, 1988, Harry G. Meeker, DMD)

  • National Institutes of Health:
    • About 90,000 deaths annually from infections that don’t respond to treatment
    • More and more bacteria (such as Staph. aureus and numerous gut bacteria) are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics available
  • Centers for Disease Control:
    • Doctors prescribe antibiotics to children 65% of the time if they feel parents expect them, even if not needed
    • Nearly all significant bacterial infections in the world are resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics
our solution
Our Solution

“Microorganisms, however, do not appear to develop tolerance or resistance to the antibacterial effects of essential oils such as clove oil (eugenol) and thyme oil (thymol). Such oils provide an effective, powerful, and cost-effective means of infection control…”

(Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, Jan. 9, 1988, Harry G. Meeker, DMD)

  • Essential Oils: antimicrobial champions!
    • Thyme (>55% thymol)
    • Clove (>80% eugenol)
    • Oregano (>60% carvacrol)
Eugenol (from clove EO), thymol (from thyme EO), and carvacrol (from oregano EO) have been used in dentistry since the 19th century for root canals, temporary fillings and cements, periodontal therapy, and abscesses

Bernard Schechter, DDS

Currently designated GRAS by the FDA

thyme vs microbes
Thyme vs. Microbes
  • A 1995 study by Nicole Didry at the College of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences in Lille, France
  • Thyme oil at very small concentrations (<500 ppm) killed the pathogenic organisms responsible for the tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath
    • Streptococcus mutans,
    • S. sanguis
    • S. milleri
    • S. mitis
    • Peptostreptococcus anaerobius
    • Prevotella buccae
    • P. oris
    • P. intermedia
essential oil vs oral pathogens
Essential Oil vs. Oral Pathogens

“Essential oils, such as thymol, menthol and eucalyptol, have been used in mouth rinses for over 100 years [and] have been documented to be antibacterial in laboratory tests. With the association of microorganisms and plaque formation, and [their] suspected involvement with carious lesions (tooth decay) and gingivitis, the effect of essential oils takes on new interest.”

Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists

thyme for health
Thyme for Health
  • Researchers at the Scottish Agricultural College
    • Daily doses of thyme oil (42.5 mg/K of body weight), drastically slowed age-related DHA degradation in the brain
  • Karesh Youdim and colleagues
    • 3.9 mg thyme and clove oils for 17 months slowed DHA loss
  • Jukic et al (2007)
    • Thyme oil and derivatives slow destruction of neurotransmitters

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Thyme for Health

Protection of Brain Antioxidant Activity



control group

Youdim, Deans, 2000

thyme the bottom line
Thyme: The Bottom Line
  • Research shows us that thyme essential oil:
    • Is potently antimicrobial
    • Has been used for centuries in oral health (and health in general!)
    • May slow or reverse aging of brain tissue by protecting DHA, antioxidants and neurotransmitters
    • May slow or prevent age-related eye tissue damage by protecting DHA

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clove long history
Clove: Long History
  • Subjects awaiting an audience with Chinese emperors were required to chew cloves to mask breath odors (207 B.C. to 220 A.D.)
  • Avicenna treated “putrifaction” of the teeth and gums with clove pills (~1000 A.D.)
  • New England physician, Thomas Palmer, wrote in 1696:
    • “Oyl of cloves—stayeth ye putrifaction of the bones in old and new ulcers . . . It heals wounds, diseases, wind, digesteth cold humours. Causes a sweet breath.”
  • Thomas Berdmore, Operator for the Teeth to King George III, treated toothache with “acrid aromatic substances” including mace and cloves (late 1700s)

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clove long history1
The Island of Ternate in the Moluccas Archipelago was the site of extensive clove cultivation in the 16th century

Dutch destroyed the clove trees to protect their monopoly

Native inhabitants were devastated by disease (60,000+ thought to have died)

Researchers attributed the sudden onset of epidemics to the lack of “clove leaves and flowers sufficient to purify the air.”

Some East Indies natives still wear clove stuck to nostrils and lips so demons do not enter there

Clove: Long History

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Safety confirmed by NTP in lifetime animal studies (1983, Technical Report No. 223, National Toxicology Program)

Ames salmonella assay also showed eugenol to be antimutagenic (1995, Azizan & Blevins, East Tennessee State University)

Animals studies at the University of Wisconsin Medical School achieved similar results in an animal model.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives estimated an acceptable human daily intake of eugenol of up to 2.5mg / kg body weight

The German Commission E monograph prescribes mouthwashes consisting of 1 to 5% clove essential oil as an oral antiseptic and topical anesthetic, stating that it has “antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral” action

clove vs microbes1
Eugenol strongly inhibits growth of HSV I and HSV II

Eugenol significantly delayed the onset of herpetic lesion on the eyes of infected animals

Clove vs. Microbes
clove vs microbes2
Bacteria and fungi tend cluster together in clusters called biofilms that serve as a powerful protective mechanism

Biofilms make the microorganisms much more difficult to kill

Clove is one of the few natural compounds that can disrupt these biofilms

Recent studies have shown that eugenol disrupts Candida biofilms.

[1] Ahmad et al., “Antimicrobial activity of clove oil and its potential in the treatment of vaginal candidiasis,” 2005

[2] He et al., “In vitro activity of eugenol against Candida albicans biofilms.” 2007.

Clove vs. Microbes

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clove for health
Clove for Health
  • According to a test developed by USDA researchers at Tufts University clove bud oil is the most powerful antioxidant known

ORAC score per 100g

clove for health1
Nagababu et al (1995) showed that eugenol protected against CCl4 hepatotoxicity (liver damage)

Due to eugenol’s amazing free radical scavenging activity!

Also showed that eugenol protected against lipid damage from free radicals (1994)

Clove for Health

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clove the bottom line
Clove: The Bottom Line
  • Research shows us that clove essential oil:
    • Is potently antimicrobial
    • Is an incredibly powerful antioxidant
    • Is an amazing anti-inflammatory
    • Has been used for centuries in oral health (and health in general!)
    • Shown to protect DHA in retinal tissue

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oregano vs microbes1
Oregano vs. Microbes
  • A 2001 Georgetown University Study found that oregano oil at a concentration of 0.25 mg/ml completely inhibited candida growth
  • Entire control group died in 10 days (100% mortality)
  • Mice infected with Candida fed 8.6 mg of oregano oil for 30 days had only 20% mortality

Manohar V, Ingram C, Gray J, Talpur NA, Echard BW, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans. Mol Cell Biochem. 2001 Dec;228(1-2):111-7.

oregano vs microbes2
Oregano vs. Microbes
  • Adam et al (1998)
    • Oregano essential oil at a 1/50,000 dilution caused 95% kill of human pathogenic fungi
    • In vitro and in vivo
    • No mutagenic activity!
  • Daouk et al (1995)
    • Oregano oil at 0.1μl / mL strongly inhibited common (and deadly) food fungi

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oregano vs microbes3
Oregano vs. Microbes
  • Research at Weber State University by Sue Chao found that 12 microliters of oregano had the antibacterial equivalence of 10 units of penicillin.
oregano vs microbes4
Oregano vs. Microbes
  • Harry Preuss, MD, at Georgetown found that oregano oil (in particular, carvacrol) works as well as antibiotics on Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Oregano oil also killed E. coli, Heliobacter pylori, Bacillus anthracis, and Klebsiella pneumoniae
    • Penicillin resistant
  • Phase 2: animal studies
    • 50% of mice fed oregano oil for 30 days survived Staph. aureus infections
    • Control mice died within 3 days

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oregano for health
Oregano for Health
  • Carvacrol and thymol in oregano oil are antioxidants
  • Slamenova et al (2007)
    • Very small concentrations of carvacrol protected cells against DNA damage from hydrogen peroxide
  • Carvacrol and thymol themselves did not damage DNA

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oregano the bottom line
Oregano: The Bottom Line
  • Research shows us that oregano essential oil:
    • Is potently antimicrobial
      • Many microbes that are resistant to common antibiotics
    • Is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect DNA from damage
    • Is not mutagenic or cytotoxic to cells

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so what
So What?
  • Infectious disease and growing antibiotic resistance are major threats to our health
  • Essential oils, especially thyme, oregano and clove, can help!
    • Powerful antimicrobials
    • No resistance demonstrated
    • Synergistic: also support health in other ways
    • Internal and external benefits
    • Centuries of safe and successful use

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