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February 6, 2015

Essential Oil Use Holds Promise in Lowering Our Need for Antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat facing all of us today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi."

For instance, "there are high proportions of antibiotic resistance (ABR) in bacteria that cause common infections (e.g. urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections) in all regions of the world. A high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria."

Key facts about antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotics are a foundational component of modern medicine, without which many of our current treatment modalities and medical procedures become exceedingly dangerous. We all need to be a part of the solution, using antibiotics as sparely as possible and encouraging others to do the same.

Fortunately, research investigating various plant extracts, hoping to find alternatives to antibiotic drugs, is extremely promising. Essential oils have potent antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Mounting research also suggests they may be powerful enough to address diseases like cancer. (Limonene is high in all citrus oils, like lemon and tangerine.)

A recent article in The Atlantic goes into great detail about how scientists and farmers are now looking to essential oils to keep people and animals healthy and discusses the experimental use of essential oils to combat disease in poultry.

The Atlantic article goes on to say that "in the lab, scientists have been testing all kinds of combinations of essential oils and antibiotics, and they’re repeatedly finding that the oils – used on their own and in combination with some common antibiotics – can fight numerous pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus (which causes staph infection), and other common types of bacteria. Results consistently show that combining essential oils and antibiotics significantly lowers the amount of antibiotic required to do the job. For example, two recent studies showed that lavender and cinnamon essential oils killed E. coli, and when combined with the antibiotic piperacillin, the oils reversed the resistance of the E. coli bacteria to the antibiotic. Another recent study found that basil oil and rosemary oil were both effective in inhibiting the growth of 60 strains of E. coli retrieved from hospital patients. Other research has produced similar results for many other essential oils, both alone and in combination with antibiotics. Researchers believe that one mechanism by which the oils work is by weakening the cell wall of resistant bacteria, thereby damaging or killing the cells while also allowing the antibiotic in."
Again, we all need to do our part to use alternatives to antibiotics, as often as possible, and to keep our body as healthy as possible in order to avoid the need for antibiotics.

If you need support with which essential oils you and your family might use, please call us at 608-242-0200 for general questions or to set up a personal consultation for an individualized health plan.

Here are a few of the essential oils that have been shown to have strong antimicrobial properties:
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • mint family – peppermint, spearmint
  • cinnamon
  • clove

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