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Mechanism of Action of Essential Oils and their Major Components

Naga Parameswari, Mangalagiri, Kavitha Velagapudi, Shravan Kumar Panditi, Naveena Lavanya Latha Jeevigunta


The essential oil of lemongrass, palm rosa and eucalyptus were found to be good antimicrobial agents. To a large extent the results suggest their potential use as chemotherapeutic agents, food preserving agents, and disinfectants. However before considering these compounds as chemotherapeutic agents against human/animal diseases, it is important to study their cytotoxic and mutagenic effects. Studies were then carried to investigate the probable mechanism by which these compounds act against Gram negative (E. coli) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. The leakage of potassium ions from the cell suspension of bacteria and change in absorption maxima in presence of the test compounds was monitored. The results indicate that, in presence of crude essential oils the leakage of bacterial cellular material was higher than that showed in presence of the individual major components of essential oils, which is due their ability to disrupt the permeability barrier of microbial membrane structures, although the presence of additional mechanisms or targets cannot be ruled out.


Plant essential oils, anti bacterial, anti fungal, potassium leakage, absorption maxima

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