Dominique Baudoux has had a wide experience over many years in many
aspects of the use of natural essential oils. He was for three years the
Director of the Centre Européen de Recherche en Energie (CEDRE), which
federates a multitude of training courses in alternative healing techniques
such as phytotherapy, aromatherapy, homeopathy, reflexology, nutrition
and kinesiology. He is the author of several books, currently the co-director
of the UPMB, a professional group of 400 Belgian pharmacists, and is the
president of Natural Aromatherapy Research and Development (NARD) which
publishes the newsletter Aroma News for aromatherapy professionals. In
1991 he acquired the prestigious French aromatherapy laboratory and company
commonly called laurel or bay (sweet or true). Its essential oil is
very complete and perfectly balanced and has effective antibacterial,
antiviral and antifungal prperties.
This tree can produce three very different kinds of essential oil,
depending on the part which is distilled: dried flower bud (clove,
tendril or leaf).
Eager to meet their
colleagues’ demands, pharmacists and some biology labs that practised
aromatograms joined with practitioners, creating a unique medical-pharmaceutical
dynamic. Encouraged by hundreds of thousands of patients, a wide-ranging
movement was born.
France has been at the forefront of aromatherapy practice in general,
and the anti-infectious use of essential oils in particular. Pharmacists
eagerly display the term ‘Aromatherapie’ on their storefront,
which would have been inconceivable in English-speaking countries, where
the term ‘Aromatherapy’ had completely different connotations.
This is the most widely studied area of
essential oils; this property is the only one that is really well-known
and used regularly. In fact, many people associate ‘aromatherapy’
with ‘anti-infectious therapy’.
The capacity of essential oils to neutralize
germs is now irrefutable. Experimental studies were undertaken in France
by Chamberland as early as 1887.5 In I888, Cadeac and Meunier published
the results of their own research (Annales de l’Institut Pasteur).3
Many in-vitro confirmations were performed by pharmacists and doctors;
results were conclusive. In his book, Antiseptiques Essentiels, published
in 1938, René-Maurice Gattefosse described the already considerable
advancement of the research.
Soon, though, the blazing success of the
fledgling antibiotherapy eclipsed these discoveries, proven though they
Here and there, isolated groups and researchers
remained ‘loyal’ to essential oils and made sure previous works
were not forgotten.
During the 1960s, Dr Jean Valnet gave rise
to the rebirth of aromatherapy, which split up into several schools, allowing
thousands of doctors to get familiar with an anti-infectious technique
not acknowledged by medical schools. Eager to meet their colleagues’
demands, pharmacists and some biology labs that practised aromatograms
joined with practitioners, creating a unique medical-pharmaceutical dynamic.
Encouraged by hundreds of thousands of patients, a wide-ranging movement
France has been at the forefront of aromatherapy
practice in general, and the anti-infectious use of essential oils in
particular. Pharmacists eagerly display the term ‘Aromatherapie’
on their storefront, which would have been inconceivable in English-speaking
countries, where the term ‘Aromatherapy’ had completely different
Thanks to the aromatogram, aromatherapy
has the means to fully exploit the anti-infectious properties of essential
oils based on serious criteria.
Knowledge of the antibacterial components
of essential oils is of prime importance. For example, in the essential
oil of Satureja montana, carvacrol is the active molecule; paracymene,
usually present in this essential oil, does not possess anti-infectious
It is an obvious necessity for the practitioner
to have a clear, orderly idea of the most active molecules.
Molecules with the highest anti-bacterial
coefficient are: carvacrol, thymol and eugenol; all three are phenols.
Australol and gaiacol are also part of this group, but essential oils
that contain them are not as active on this front.
Not a phenol (but related, with a benzenic
core), cinnamic aldehyde has an anti-infectious activity comparable to
Thanks to these four molecules, any aromatherapy-savvy
practitioner will be able to master most common infections.
Alcohols with ten carbon atoms (or monoterpenols)
come immediately after: geraniol, linalool, thujanol and myrcenol, terpineol,
menthol and piperitol are the most well-known. Reliable, broad-spectrum
molecules, they are useful in numerous cases of bacterial infections.
Aldehydes are also somewhat antibacterial;
the most widely used are neral and geranial (citrals), citronnellal and
Ketones are interesting for the treatment
of mucupurulent infectious states (usually a strictly indirect action):
verbenone, thujone, borneone (camphor), pinocamphone, cryptone, fenchone,
menthone, piperitone and carvone.
The antibacterial action of ethers is certain,
but irregular; only an aromatogram can predict their use in a specific
case; estragole and anethole are this group’s most representative
molecules. Oxides are mildly anti-infectious. Phtalids (such as celery
seed) are strongly antibacterial. Finally, terpenes may prove interesting,
but are mostly diffused into the air (atmospheric antiseptic agents).
Other molecular groups have no antibacterial effects.
Of course, adequate strategies are necessary
to maximize these substance.
According to Molowan, the antiseptic power
of essential oils is generally proportional to their liposolubility. 2,3,5,7,9,10,11,14,19
Fungal infections are a hot topic today,
due to the overuse and abuse of antibiotics by most members of the medical
profession; as we all know, antibiotics are first and foremost microscopic
The molecular groups with the strongest
antibacterial action are also active on fungi. However, treatment must
be over a longer period.
Fundamental studies have also revealed the
anti-fungal activity of alcohols and sesquiterpenic lactones. 1,7,8,12,13,16,17
The mad parasites of any and all forms of
life, viruses give rise to pro-teiform pathologies, some of which medical
science can do nothing to cure. Classic responses to these infections
are very limited, so essential oils are a godsend in treating viral problems,
from the most common to the most fearsome.
Molecules from many chemical families have
shown an in-vitro antiviral activity, among them monoterpenols and monoterpenals.
The cineole – monoterpenol synergy
is used to treat viral pathologies of the respiratory tract (widely seen
in temperate climes). This synergy can be found in many essential oils
that come from trees of the Myrteceae family; these have been known
forever for their interest in the treatment of pulmonary diseases.
Another couple, linalool oxide – linalool (Hissopus off. var.
decumbens) is also interesting for viral pathologies of the lower respiratory
Ketones, and especially rare cryptone, have
shown an interesting capacity to fight naked viruses.
Aldehydes, whether used internally or in
the atmosphere, are good complementary treatments for patients with viral
infections. Ethers are useful in some specific clinical cases.
Generally, viruses are highly sensitive
to aromatic molecules, and some severe viral pathologies may show a vast
improvement following their use. A fact of the highest interest, unearthed
during fundamental research and clinical experiments: normal cells of
patients under aromatic treatment seem to acquire a special resistance
to viral penetration.1,7,8
minimal phenol-inhibiting concentrations
(mg CTEO / ml medium)
Staphylococcus aureus 0.125
Escherichia coli 0.125
Candida albicans 0.500
This technique, which is performed in a
clinical biology laboratory, is an in-vitro method of measuring the antibacterial
power of chemotyped essential oils. There are different practical types
of aromatogram: solid, liquid and gas.
To keep the procedure practical, the solid aromatogram
is used in day-to-day operations, as it is simpler, more adaptable and
the results are more easily reproducible. Samples taken from cavities
or mucous membranes (sputum, stool, urine, mucus, pus, pap smear…)
are prepared, then put in contact with various nutritive mediums (enriched
agar) in Petri dishes. Being given optimal growth conditions, pathogenic
germs develop rapidly in the nutritive medium.
Several series (6 to 8 per dish) of little
disks of blotting paper saturated with the different essential oils to
be tested are put over these microbial colonies. After a latency period
at 37.5°C, the inhibition halo surrounding the disks is then measured.
Each halo (light area) shows the destruction of the pathogenic germs and
gives a clear indication of the antibacterial activity of the essential
Depending on the size of the inhibition
halo, rating the chemotyped essential oils by their antimicrobial activity
spectrum becomes easy.
• If the
light area measures between 2 and 3 millimetres, then the essential oil
(E.O.) has a good bactericidal action on the tested germs. It is given
two stars (**).
• If the
light area is more than 3 millimetres across, then the E.O. is very effective,
and is given three stars (***) for its antimicrobial spectrum.
• If there
is no light area, the E.O. has no activity on the analysed germ, and will
not be retained for treatment.
About sixty chemotyped (CT) essential oils
are tested on a wide range of germs being very different from one another.
Although the limits of the aromatogram are
those of any in-vitro technique, it nevertheless represents an essential
reference point, since it is identical to the technique used to measure
the bactericidal activity of antibiotics, so the comparison is simple
for any practitioner.
of Essential Oils with
An important key to aromatherapy is the
knowledge of the action of the aromatic molecules that make up chemotyped
essential oils, sometimes by the hundreds.
General biochemical structure
Tonic and stimulant +++
anti-infectious: Antibacterial ++++
Immune system stimulant +++
Dermocaustic when used neat (especially
thymol). Always dilute down to 10-20% in vegetable oil for local
external use. Thymol should not be used in high quantities OR over
a long period by people with a weak liver. Internal use of thymol
is only advocated for a 5-6 day shock treatment.
Very useful for bacterial, viral and
parasite infections, wherever they may occur. Essential oils rich
in phenols should be used over short periods at proper doses at
onset of treatment, after which they should be replaced by others
that are easier to use (terpenic alcohols).
and their essential oils
Thymol: Trachyspermum ammi (Ajowan)
Thymus CT thymol
Carvacrol: Origanum compactum (Oregano) Origanum heracleoticum
(Greek Oregano) Corydothymus capitatus (Spanish Oregano)
Satureja montana (Winter or mountain savory)
Thymus CT carvacrol
Thymus serpyllum (Wild thyme or mother-of-thyme)
Eugenol: Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove tree) Cinnamomum verum
– leaf (Ceylon Cinnamon)
Ocimum gratissimum CT eugenol (Hot or shrubby basil)
Gaiacol: Guajacum officinalis (Gaiac wood)
General biochemical structure
anti-infectious: Antibacterial +++
Immune system moderators +++
low immuno glob. and
high immuno glob.
Thujanol-4: hepatocyte stimulant and regenerator
Menthol: vasoconstrictor – anaesthetic liver stimulant
Citronnelol: insectifuge (mosquitoes)
Terpenic alcohols are practically non-toxic at physiological doses.
They may be applied neat on the skin or mouth or by mouth (preferably
on a sugar cube) without any risk at therapeutic doses.
This biochemical family is very important because of its frequent
use in a large number of microbial, viral and fungal pathologies.
It is used almost systematically and is undeniably useful in almost
Terpenic alcohols and their essential oils
Aniba rosaeodora (Rosewood)
Coriandrum sativum (Coriander)
Thymus CT linalool; Lavandula reydovan
Geraniol: Cymbopogon martinii (Palmarosa)
Thymus CT geraniol
Thujanol: Thymus CT thujanol
Origanum majorana (Sweet marjoram or oregano)
Borneol: Thymus satureioides (Thym borneol-carvacrol type)
Inula graveolens (Sweet inula)
Menthol: Mentha x piperita (Peppermint)
Mentha arvensis (Field mint or cornmint)
Citronnellol: Pelargonium asperum (Geranium)
Terpinene1ol 4: Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree)
Origanum majorana (Sweet marjoram or oregano)
Alpha Terpineol: Ravensara aromatica (Ravensara)
Eucalyptus radiata (Black or narrow-leaf peppermint eucalyptus
General biochemical structure
Powerful broad-spectrum anti-infectious
action: Antibacterial ++++
Immune system stimulant +++
General tonic +++
Apart from dermocausticity and irritation of the mucous embranes,
aromatic aldehydes are not really toxic at therapeutic doses. Of
course, they should not be employed neat on the skin; always dilute
down to a maximum of 10% in hazelnut or sesame vegetable oil.
Aromatic aldehydes are among the most powerful anti-microbial, antiviral,
antifungal and antiparasitic aromatic molecules found in essential
oils. This strong activity makes them well suited to difficult cases
or cases that did not respond well to other essential oils. However,
they are too strong for children under five.
aldehydes and their essential oils
• Cinnamomum verum or zeylandicum (bark) (Ceylon
• Cinnamomum cassia (bark) (Chinese cinnamon (bark)
• Cinnamomum loureirii (bark) (Vietnamese cinnamon (bark)
• Cuminum cyminum (Cumin)
• Eucalyptus polybractea CT cryptone (Blue mallee eucalyptus
• Eucalyptus polybractea CT cryptone (Blue mallee eucalyptus
Oils with Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties
The Lauraceae genus is important,
both for its sheer number of species (2000-2500) and for its therapeutic
properties. They are found mostly in the tropical areas of America and
Each part of these aromatic plants may contain essences; for example,
with Ravensara, the bark and leaves produce two very different essential
The essential oil has the properties of its oxide (1,8 cineole) and its
monoterpenic alcohols (terpineol alpha).
Exceptional antiviral, immunostimulant*****
Neurotonic and psychic stimulant****
Muscle relaxant and antalgic**
Infections of the respiratory tract: bronchitis, rhinitis, sinusitis,
rhinopharyngitis, whooping cough***
Influenza****, herpes, herpes zoster****
Hepatitis and viral enteritis***
Deep physical and moral fatigue***
Insomnia and stress***
The Lamiaceae family is made up of over
3000 species of mostly medicinal and aromatic plants. They have a marked
preference for the Mediterranean basin. Oregano likes free, open habitats
with dry, rocky slopes and scrubs. This plant has amore rustic appearance
than its sister, Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram), for which
it is often mistaken.
The essential oil has the properties of its phenols: carvacrol and thymol.
Powerful, broad-spectrum antibacterial****
Fungicide and mycobactericide***
General tonic and stimulant (mental, physical, sexual)**
Acute and chronic infections of the respiratory tract (angina, laryngitis,
Intestinal, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections (diarrhoea, amibiasis,
Crohn’s, dysentery, malaria)****
Cystitis, urethritis, nephritis***
Infectious and parasitic dermatosis (acne, scabies)***
The clove tree (Eugenia car.) is part of
the Myrtaceae family (Melaleuca, Eucalyptus, Myrtus). A native of tropical
Asia, this small, bushy tree with its 20-metre height and persistent leaves
is steeped in history: its cloves are an eastern spice that has a long-standing
history of culinary use. This tree can produce three very different kinds
of essential oil, depending on the part which is distilled: dried flower
bud (clove), tendril or leaf.
The essential oil has the properties of its main constituent: eugenol,
Powerful, broad-spectrum antibacterial***
General stimulant: uterotonic, neurotonic, hypertensive***
Cauterizes pulp and skin***
Dental infections, odontalgias***
Intestinal infections: dysentery, amibiasis, enterocolitis, tropical illness***
Urinary and gynaecological infections: cystitis, metritis, salpingitis***
Skin infections: infected wounds and acne, parasitosis, (scabies)***
Respiratory infections: sinusitis, bronchitis***
Viral pathologies: influenza, herpes zoster, viral neuritis, viral hepatitis***
Mister Christian X age 41 a bank manager,
came in after his workday with recent powerful symptoms that appeared
brutally: shivers, headaches, severe fatigue, feverish state. A diagnosis
of viral pathology is made and cutaneous treatment of the synergy (essential
oil mixture of Eucalyptus radiata and Ravensara aromatica) is preferred
for flu onsets as well as for control of fever, which put him back on
his feet within 12 hours. All symptoms having disappeared, he returned
to work the following morning. He continued treatment for 24 hours for
complete healing and recuperation. As for his wife and children, they
protected themselves against the viral affection by using the same mix,
which stimulated their natural defenses, thus preserving them.
Mrs Veronique age 30 comes in with a pulmonary
bacterial pathology of viral aetiology with yellow mucuous secretions,
a 39.5° fever and painful legs. Cutaneous treatment of a synergy (essential
oil mixture of Eucalyptus radiata, Ravensara aromatica, Melaleuca quinquinervia,
Thymus vulgaris linalool) preferred for flus with complications is instigated
along with capsules of origanum compactum (50mg Origanum compactum essential
oil diluted in 200 mg of a vegetable oil) as ‘antibiotics’.
The essential oil Origanum compactum has excellent broad-spectrum antibacterial
and antiparasitic properties, but cannot be applied undiluted to the skin
or mucus membranes.
1. Belaiche P. Traité
de phytothérapie et d’aromathérapie. Maloine. 1979.
2. Caccioni DR, et al. Relationship between volatile components of citrus
fruit essential oils and antimicrobial action on Penicillium digitatum
and Penicillium italicum. Int J Food Microbiol. 40
(1-2):73-9. Aug 18 1998.
3. Cadéac M. et Meunier A. Recherche expérimentales sur
l’action antiseptique des essences. Anneles Institut Pasteur III:
4. Carson CF, et al. Antimicrobial activity of the major components of
the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J Appl Bacteriol. 78 (3):264-9.
5. Chamberland M.. Les essences au point de vue de leurs propriétés
antiseptiques. Anneles Institut Pasteur I:153-154. 1887.
6. Consentino S, et al. In-vitro antimicrobial activity and chemical composition
of Sardinian thymus essential oils. Lett Appl Microbiol 29 (2):130-5.
7. Franchomme Pierre et Pénoël Daniel. L’aromathérapie
exactement. Edition Roger Jollois, Limoges. 1990.
8. Franchomme Pierre. L’aromathérapie thérapeutique
de pointe en médecine naturelle. Sinceiro Entreprises Ltd, Hong
9. Harkental M. et
al. Comparative study on the in vitro antibacterial activity of Australian
tea tree oil, cajeput oil, niaouli oil, manuka oil, kanuka oil, and eucalyptus
oil. Pharmazie. 54(6):460-3. 1999.
10. Jansen AM, Scheffer JJ and Baarheim-Svemdsen. Antimicrobial Activity
of Essential Oils: A 1976-1986 Literature Review: Aspects of Test Methods.
Planta Medica 53(5): 395-398. 1987.
11. Kandil O et al. Extracts and fractions of Thymus capitatus exhibit
antimicrobial activities. J Ethnopharmacol. 44 (1):19-24. Aug 1994.
12. Larrondo JV et al. Antimicrobial activity of essences from labiates.
Microbios. 82(332):171-2. 1995.
13. Mangena T et al. Comparative evaluation of the antimicrobial activities
of essential oils of Artemisia afra, Pteronia incana and Rosmarinus officinalis
on selected bacteria and yeast strains. Lett Appl Microbiol. 28(4):291-6.
14. Marino M. et al. Antimicrobial activity of the essential oils of Thymus
vulgaris L. measured using a bioimpedometric method. J Foot Prot. 62(9):1017-23.
15. Panizzi L et al. Composition and antimicrobial properties of essential
oils of four Mediterranean Lamiaceae. J Ethnopharmacol. 39(3):167-70.
16. Pellecuer J, Allegrini
J, et De Buochberg S. Etude in vitro de l’activité antibactérienne
et antifongique de l’essence de Satureja montana (Labiées).
J Pharm. Belge 29(2):137-144. 1974.
17. Pellecuer J, Allegrini J, et De Buochberg S. Huiles essentielles bactéricides
et fongicides. Revue de l’Institut Pasteur, Lyon, t 0, n°2:135-139.
18. Pellecuer J. Les huiles essentielles, propriétés anti-infectieuses.
1er Symposium international de médecine aromatique. Grasse. 1998.
19. Porter NG, et al. Chemical, physical and antimicrobial properties
of essential oils of Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides. Phytochemistry
50(3):407-15. Feb 1999.
Pranarom UK, D’oyles, 5 Jarratt Street, Kingston Square, Hull HU1
3HB. Tel: 01482 581 776; Fax: 01482 581 774. firstname.lastname@example.org