Natural plants have oils that are known to act as naturalantibiotics, but what the scientific and medical world don’t know is howeffective these essential oils are when compared to the commonly prescribedpharmaceutical antibiotics. Theelements in essential oils come from distilling or extracting various parts ofplants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin and peels. Essentialoil benefits come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatoryproperties. These therapeutic oils arerapidly growing in usage because they act as natural medicine with minimal sideeffects. Essential oils are generally appliedto your skin in the desired areas or areas of discomfort.
This type of medicine gets absorbed into your body in someprofound ways. The skin is relatively permeable to fat soluble substances andrelatively impermeable to water soluble substances (Miller, 2015). Essentialoil molecules are so miniscule that when applied directly onto the skin they canpass through the strateum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis) (Miller,2015). From here the oil molecules passes through dermis (thick layer of livingtissue below the epidermis containing blood capillaries, nerve endings, sweatglands, hair follicles, and other structures), into the capillaries and intothe bloodstream (Miller, 2015). Absorption of essential oils also happensthrough the hair follicles and sweat ducts.
There are many factors that affect absorptionof an essential oil molecule; both rate of circulation and the temperature ofthe skin affect absorption rate; higher rate of circulation and warmer temperatureof the skin increase blood flow to the surface, therefore increasing the skin’sability to absorb the oil (Miller, 2015). Circulation and warmth can be increasedby massage of the skin. The larger thearea of skin that is covered equates to more essential oils that will beabsorbed. The permeability of the skin is also a factor; thinner skin e.
g.:skin behind the ears and the inside of the wrists are very permeable (Miller,2015). The palms of the hands and feet, armpits and scalp will more readilyabsorb oil molecules than the arms, legs, belly, back etc. (Miller, 2015). Oilsare also easily absorbed through cuts, scrapes and abrasions, burns, eczema etc.(Miller, 2015). Clean skin pores that are free of dirt have high rates ofabsorption (Miller, 2015). The other factor to consider when applying essentialoils to the skin is the viscosity of the carrier oil in which the oilis diluted (Miller, 2015).
Sweet almond and grapeseed oil are less viscous andwill penetrate the skin more easily than thicker olive or avocado oils.Another way for essential oils to enter the body is through inhalation,the molecules rise to the top of the nose and meet the olfactory mucousmembrane. The olfactory membrane has thousands of receptors that identify thesmell and thus, the sensory stimulation is sent through the olfactory bulb,which acts as an amplifier, through the olfactory nerve into the limbic systemof the brain (Miller, 2015). The limbic systemof the brain deals with emotional and psychological responses. The limbicsystem is prompted by nerve impulses.
The scent is compared to a known scent,compared and labeled, thus we can have memories associated with the specific scentsand react emotionally and physically through our autonomic nervous system, thepart of the nervous system that controls bodily functions not consciouslydirected, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes (Miller,2015). These stimulated responses are determined by the specific qualities ofthe essential oil being used and can range from relaxing to stimulating the brainand body. The nerve impulse in the limbic system leads to other areas of thebrain that are responsible for secreting hormones and regulating body functions(Miller, 2015).One of the essential oils we are going be testing is lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). Lemongrass essential oil is used to relieve muscle pain,externally to kill bacteria, ward off insects, and reduce body aches, andinternally to help your digestive system (Prabuseenivasan, Jayakumar, &Ignacimuthu, 2006). Lemongrass is a herbthat belongs to the grass family of Poaceae. Lemongrassoil has a light and fresh lemony smell with earthy undertones; it isstimulating, relaxing, soothing, and balancing system (Prabuseenivasan,Jayakumar, & Ignacimuthu, 2006). The compounds that make uplemongrass essential oil are known to have anti-fungal,insecticidal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemongrass oil has shown to prevent the growth/reproductionof some bacteria and yeast (Smith-Palmer, Stewart, & Fyfe, 1998). It contains substances that are used toalleviate muscle pain, reduce fever, and to stimulate uterus and menstrualflow.Another oil we will be testing is that of the plant (Eucalyptus globulus). The health benefitsof eucalyptus oil are well-known and wide-ranging, and its propertiesinclude being an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant,antiseptic, antibacterial, stimulating, and other medicinal qualities.
Eucalyptus essential oil is colorless and has a distinctive taste andodor. Eucalyptus essential oil has antiseptic qualities becauseof its germicidal quality. Upon exposure to air, ozone is formed which is awell-researched antiseptic. Eucalyptus essential oil is effective for treatingseveral respiratory problems including cold,cough, running nose, sore throat, asthma, nasal congestion, bronchitis,and sinusitis. Eucalyptus oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial,antiviral, anti-inflammatory and decongestant in nature, which makes it a goodingredient in many medicines that treat respiratory problems. One veryimportant reason that many people use eucalyptus oil is that it creates acooling and refreshing effect. Normally, people suffering from certainconditions and disorders are slightly sluggish. Eucalyptus oil, astimulant, removes exhaustion.
Peppermintessential oil gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body,which can relieve sore muscles when used topically on areas of discomfort(Prabuseenivasan, Jayakumar, & Ignacimuthu, 2006). It also hasantimicrobial properties, so it can help freshen bad breath and soothe digestiveissues. Peppermint is a hybrid species of spearmint (Mentha spicate) and water mint (Menthaaquatica). The essential oils of peppermint are gatheredby steam distillation of the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant. The mostactive ingredients include menthol (35–45%) and menthone (10–30%). Clinicallyspeaking, peppermint oil is recommended for its anti-nausea benefits andsoothing effects on the gastric lining and colon because of its ability toreduce muscle spasms (Prabuseenivasan, Jayakumar, & Ignacimuthu, 2006).
Pharmaceuticalantibiotics have been known to cause long-term medical problems, such as: liverproblems, indigestion, significant decrease in beneficial bacteria, “goodbacteria”, upset/sensitive stomach, and, most importantly, eventual antibioticresistance. The usage of large numbersof antibiotics over the past three decades, in the community and hospitals, hasfueled this crisis of antibiotic resistance in harmful bacteria (Neu,1992). Bacteria have become resistant toantimicrobial agents as a result of chromosomal changes or the exchange ofgenetic material via plasmids and transposons (Neu, 1992). Thisantibiotic resistance by harmful bacteria has led to deadlier bacterialinfections varying from the common flu to pneumonia. The most widely cited case of antibioticresistance is tuberculosis – a bacterial infection of the lungs (Noble,n.
d.). This infection of the lungs iscaused by bacteria, Mycobacteriumtuberculosis, that was once highly responsive to antibiotic treatment, butthat is not the case anymore (Noble, n.d.).
The antimicrobial activity of plant oils andextracts has been recognized for many years. However, few investigations havecompared large numbers of oils and extracts using methods that are directlycomparable. Based on the benefits and lack of side effects of essential oils, thepurpose of the experiment is to determine if treatment by an essential oil, orcombination/blend of essential oils, is more effective in inhibiting thegrowth/reproduction K12 E. coli, than commonly used pharmaceutical antibiotics.In the experiment, the mode of action is to inoculatethe bacteria in petri dishes, containing nutrient agar, then placing a piecesof filter paper, that have been soaked in the solution of the desired IV, theessential oil or combination/blend of essential oils. After time increments, increasing in 30minutes, from placement of filter papers, containing the variations ofessential oils, up to 5 hours the DV, zone of inhibition, of the experimentwill be measured. Once again, the DV,zone of inhibition, will be measured at 48 hours to observe the long termaffect of essential oils on inhibiting the growth/reproduction of K12 E.coli.
Zone inhibition will be measuredby using a ruler to measure the diameter around each of the filter papercircles, containing the essential oils; a larger zone of inhibition directlycorrelates to the ability of an essential oil or blend of essential oils toinhibit the growth/reproduction of K12 E. coli. The zones of inhibition created by the filter paper circles containingessential oils will be compared to the zone of inhibition created by the filterpaper circles containing the constant, a solution containing Neosporin (1g:20mL), a topical antibiotic. The anticipatedresult is that the combination/blend of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and white thyme (Thymus serpyllum) essential oils will be the most effectivetreatment in inhibiting the growth of K12 E. coli (Escherichia coli).
Animportant characteristic of essential oils and their components is theirhydrophobicity, which enable them to partition the lipids of the bacterial cellmembrane and mitochondria, disturbing the cell structures and rendering themmore permeable (Prabuseenivasan, Jayakumar, & Ignacimuthu, 2006). Extensive leakage from bacterial cells or theexit of critical molecules and ions will lead to death (Prabuseenivasan,Jayakumar, & Ignacimuthu, 2006). This leads the claim that the combination of lemongrass and white thymeis predicted to be the strongest because both lemongrass and white thyme oilsare highly antiseptic, highly antioxidant, highly hydrophobic, and lemongrassessential oils significantly reduce colony and spore development of pathogens(Tzortzakis & Economakis, 2007).