6 Powerful Antimicrobial Essential Oils You Should Know

Essential oils have been an integral part of traditional medicine due to its highly regarded healing properties. It would be limiting to think that essential oils just infuse the air with some fragrance. Several evidence-backed studies have reaffirmed the effectiveness of essential oils against infectious bacteria and fungi as well.

These oils are a boon in comparison to the chemical-laden antibiotics that have unpleasant side effects. Making essential oils a part of your lifestyle will not only boost your immunity but also prevents the emergence of drug-resistant microbes. Here are 6 essential oils with proven antimicrobial effects.


1. Eucalyptus

antibacterial action of eucalyptus oil

With its powerful aroma and strong disinfectant action, eucalyptus oil is one of the must-have essential oils. It prevents fungal infections of the skin and promotes wound healing. For centuries, it has been used by herbalists in the treatment of wounds, burns, cuts, ulcers, sores, and respiratory tract infections.1


Its antimicrobial action is effective in fighting dental decay, plaque, and gum inflammation. Therefore, it’s a common ingredient in many herbal formulations of toothpaste. Scientific studies have found that it’s effective against common pathogenic bacteria like Staphylococcus and E.coli.2

2. Cinnamon Oil

 antimicrobial action of cinnamon oil


Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices that have been used in cooking and medicine since ancient times. Studies have proven that it can destroy a wide range of microbes that can cause dental infections, bad odor, acne, and diarrhea. Cinnamon oil has cinnamaldehyde as its major constituent which is responsible for all its amazing antimicrobial effects. 3

3. Thyme oil

antimicrobial action of thyme oil


Thyme oil is specific against various strains of multidrug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas genus. These pathogenic microbes can cause infections of the oral cavity, digestive system, respiratory and genitourinary tracts. Usage of thyme oil is very effective in preventing infections that could develop during a hospital stay.4

4. Oregano Oil

antimicrobial action of oregano oil


The essential oil derived from oregano has been scientifically proven to be much better than most prescription antibiotics. The lack of any side effects is also another plus point about using it. It contains carvacrol and thymol that have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has been proven to relieve fungal infections of the skin, candidiasis, and infections that are of oral and respiratory origin.5

5. Tea Tree Oil

antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil


Tea tree oil is great for treating fungal infections of the skin, scalp, foot, and nails. Being a very strong essential oil, it’s used in diluted form. It’s best not to consume it orally or apply it inside the mouth as it could be quite irritating to the mucosa.6

6. Peppermint Oil

antibacterial action of peppermint oil


The refreshing aroma of peppermint oil is great for relieving blocked sinuses and runny noses. The most active ingredients in it include menthol (35–45%) and menthone (10–30%). It can be effective against bad breath and gum inflammation when administered in small doses. Applying it topically on fungal growths over nails, hair, and skin has also found to speed up recovery.7

Despite their amazing antimicrobial nature, essential oils may not suit all. Always do a patch test before applying them to your skin. For fungal infections of the skin, dilute them with a carrier oil before application. To relieve sinusitis and colds, add two or three drops of water and inhale their vapors during steam inhalation. Don’t take them orally unless you are being supervised by a certified herbalist or aromatherapist.8