Treating Serious Bacterial Infections With Essential Oils
If you’ve heard the news at all in the last five years, you’ve heard of MRSA, also called the “superbug”. The acronym refers to any strain of Staphyulococcus aureus bacteria that has become resistant to treatment with certain major classes of antibiotics. The point is that modern medicine isn’t able to handle this bacteria too well — you’ve also likely heard that because of this, several thousand people are dying annually of infections with this bacterium.
The search for an antidote to this deadly bacteria has been a prominent area of research in the last several years — and several essential oils have been found to be highly effective in eradicating the bug. Infections occur in the nasal passages and respiratory system, as well as in open wounds (including areas such as catheter insertions). Clearly an effective treatment should be available in both vapor phase (for inhalation) and in liquid for topical application. Essential oils meet both these requirements, and have been successfully tested in both conditions.
Lemongrass and Geranium could limit the growth of MRSA bacteria
The efficacy of one of the most popular means of using essential oils as a preventative measure was elucidated by researchers testing oils in their vapor phase. By using a nebulizing diffuser — a device that makes an evaporating mist of an oil or oil blend — it was found that a blend of lemongrass and geranium could limit the growth of MRSA bacteria in a petri dish within the same enclosed space. And further, the airborne bacterial count in an office environment was reduced by eighty-nine percent by over fifteen hours using this same blend.
When reviewing the data, it appears in most studies, no single essential oil was truly effective — rather a blend of oils did the trick. Tea tree was the oil most tested individually, with mixed results. In some cases it showed promising inhibition in the lab, but in more “real world” experiments, it didn’t seem to measure up. Geranium and thyme essential oils were also often promising, but also did not provide complete results.
With this synergy of essential oils in mind, a company in the UK called “Benchmark Oils” has developed a new strain of thyme with unique chemical characteristics. In effect, this new strain of thyme produces an essential oil that chemically appears like a mixture of tea tree and thyme essential oils. This single oil alone was found to quickly eradicate MRSA, and at the same time its application at 100% strength did not cause skin irritation (as is possible with some “spice” essential oils such as cinnamon and clove). Maggie Tisserand, company director, noted: “What is interesting is that the thyme oil we use is food grade and, in preliminary company trials, shows no adverse effects on intact skin.”
A complex blend of eucalyptus, tea tree, clove, lemongrass and thyme essential oils was reported to successfully treat individuals with MRSA infections. The blend, diluted in alcohol, was topically applied to two individuals where traumatic injury sites incurred infections — the result was complete eradication of MRSA infections. In a third individual, MRSA infection was present in bone structure, and was not responding to any antibiotic treatment. Using a slow-release system, the essential oil blend also resulted in complete eradication of the infection.
This is only a small selection of the available data, yet the vast majority of results confirm that essential oils can be effective at eradicating MRSA bacteria. What is wonderful about these results is that essential oils are readily available, inexpensive, and virtually non-toxic. Treatment of such infections with essential oils should clearly be done with the guidance of a qualified medical professional, as the illness can be deadly. Individuals with weak immune systems, and those exposed regularly to MRSA or other bacterial pathogens can protect themselves with a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser. One can make a simple blend of lemongrass, geranium and thyme essential oils and regularly diffuse this in their space for such support.