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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils

Seenivasan Prabuseenivasan, Manickkam Jayakumar and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu*

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006, 6:39  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-39

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Concerns over recommendations made about Cinnamon oil

N Malangu   (2006-12-18 10:20)  National School of Public Health, University of Limpopo email

Prabuseenivasan, Jayakumar, and Ignacimuthu reported the results of their study which clearly show that cinnamon oil and other have antibacterial properties demonstrated in-vitro. 1

Though they stated that they have no conflict of interest, the tone of their comments on previous studies about cinnamon oil, is not satisfactory. The impression created is that cinnamon oil is exempt from any potential toxicity, is actually used in treating gonorrhea, and is recommended as a topical preparation against Aspergillus niger. Yet they conclude that it can be used as antibacterial supplement in the developing countries towards the development of new therapeutic agents and that additional in-vivo studies and clinical trials are needed to assess the potential of this oil as an antibacterial agent.

Their findings as presented show that the essential oils tested had antibacterial activities at the level of concentration that may justify, for instance, their use in food systems to prevent the growth of food-borne bacteria but they cannot extrapolate further than that. 2-3 Moreover, essential oils, in general, have been reported to induce acute poisoning, allergic reactions, epileptic seizures. 4-6. Finally, to even mention that as an “antiseptic”, cinnamon oil is used against gonnorhea is simply unacceptable, even more so when the reference cited is three decades old.7

1. Prabuseenivasan S, Jayakumar M, Ignacimuthu S.In-vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Nov 30;6(1):39 [Epub ahead of print]

2. Chorianopoulos N, Kalpoutzakis E, Aligiannis N, Mitaku S, Nychas GJ,

Haroutounian SA.Essential oils of Satureja, Origanum, and Thymus species: chemical composition and antibacterial activities against foodborne pathogens. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 29;52(26):8261-7.

3. Burt S. Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods--a review. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Aug 1;94(3):223-53.

4. Darben T, Cominos B, Lee CT. Topical eucalyptus oil poisoning. Australas J Dermatol. 1998 Nov;39(4):265-7.

5. Maddocks-Jennings W. Critical incident: idiosyncratic allergic reactions to essential oils. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2004 Feb;10(1):58-60.

6. Burkhard PR, Burkhardt K, Haenggeli CA, Landis T. Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. J Neurol. 1999 Aug;246(8):667-70.

7. Nadkarni KM: Indian Meteria Medica. Popular Prakashan, Bombay,

India; 1976:228-231.

Competing interests



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