An article published in the Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery Volume 41, Issue 4, June 2013, entitled: The ongoing battle against multi-resistant strains: in-vitro inhibition of hospital-acquired MRSA, VRE, Pseudomonas, ESBL E. coli and Klebsiella species in the presence of plant-derived antiseptic oils has provided interesting information on the use of essential oils to fight superbugs.
As the researchers rightly comment “the fight against hospital-acquired infections involving antibiotic-resistant microorganisms has become of critical concern to surgeons worldwide.”
Aromatherapists and other users of essential oils have long known of the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of oils such as tea tree, lavender and lemongrass. So it’s interesting to see these properties tested in the lab.
To quote from the study:
In addition to the development of new effective antibiotic chemotherapy, exploration of ‘forgotten’ topical antibacterial agents from the pre-antibiotic era has recently gained new attention. We report the promising efficacy of plant-derived antiseptic oils used in traditional aboriginal and south-east Asian treatments such as Lemongrass, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil in the inhibition of clinical isolates of methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), multi-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, ESBL-producing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae in the in-vitro setting.
Large consistent zones of inhibition were observed for all three plant-derived oils tested in an agar diffusion test. The commonly used antibacterial agents chlorhexidine 0.1%, and ethanol (70%), and standard olive oil consistently demonstrated notably lower or no efficacy in regard to growth inhibition of strains. Notably, Lemongrass oil proved to be particularly active against gram-positive bacteria, while Tea Tree oil showed superior inhibition of gram-negative microorganisms.
As proven in vitro, plant-derived antiseptic oils may represent a promising and affordable topical agent to support surgical treatment against multi-resistant and hospital-acquired infections. Source: science direct.com
While studies such as this will be very valuable in establishing a therapeutic dosage for multi-resistant infections, essential oils have been used for a long time in complementary medicine and there is a lot of information available online on how to use these oils for many purposes.
The most important thing is to use good therapeutic grade oils so that you can be sure of the quality and concentration of the product.
Both Tea Tree and Lemongrass oils are strong and can irritate the skin. They should generally be mixed with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils are coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and olive oil. Neither oil should be swallowed or taken internally.
One effective use to combat the spread of germs is to combine both lemmongrass and tea tree with lavender oil in a diffuser. As well as helping to disinfect the room, you have the added bonus of a lovely fresh scent. Also applying drops of all three on a tissue when travelling – especially on airplanes – and breathing the scent at regular intervals can help to resist any germs or viruses floating around the confined space.
A good blog called backdoor survival.com lists many ways to use Tea Tree Oil and many other oils:
80 USES OF TEA TREE OIL FOR SURVIVAL
Abrasions & Minor Cuts: After cleaning the area well, apply a few drops of the oil directly. If a bandage is needed, allow a few drops of the oil to penetrate a cotton ball, then lay it face down on the wound with a bandage on top.
Acne: Add a drop to your normal cleansing routine or dab a very small amount on acne breakouts. You can also add 20 – 40 drops of the oil to your regular face wash.
Air Freshener: Keep a supply of cotton balls soaked in tea tree oil packed away in a plastic bag or tin. When confronted with foul smells from cooking, musty orders from dampness or even the medicinal smell in a sick room, take a few out the freshen the air and remove the nasty smell
Allergies: Use topically by massaging into the chest, abdomen or the reflex points of the feet.
Arthritis: To help reduce pain associated with the swelling of arthritis, add 20 drops of tea tree oil to 2 ounces of grapeseed or other carrier oil. Massage into affected area 2-3 times a day.
Asthma: Add a few drops of oil to a pan of water and heat on stove. When cooling, drape a towel over head and breath in for a few minutes.
Athletes Foot: Clean feet thoroughly, especially between toes. Add oil directly to feet for two weeks, dusting with corn starch after. Or add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of grapeseed or other carrier oil and massage on feet and between toes daily.
Baby Care: Keep your diaper pail clean and fresh with a spray of tea tree oil mixed with water.
Bacterial Infections: Use topically, either massaging into the reflex points of the feet, adding several drops to a bath or cautiously applying over an infected site.
Bad Breath: Rinse with 1 ounce water and 1 drop oil. Do not swallow!
Bladder Infection: In a shallow bath, add 10 – 15 drops of oil. Sit and wash area carefully.
Blisters: Wash area carefully, then apply as for cuts and wounds.
Boils: Apply a warm washcloth for a few minutes. Then apply a drop or two of oil to the area – the infection should rise to surface and eventually be released.
Bronchial Congestion: Use as directed for Asthma. Add 5 – 10 drops to 1 ounce of carrier oil, and massage into chest and throat 2 – 3 times daily.
Bronchitis: Add 1-2 drops to a pan of hot water and breath in the steam, or massage the oil over the chest.
Bruises: After icing, apply oil as directed for Arthritis.
Bunions: Massage area with 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp. of carrier oil.
Burns: Run icy cold water on area. After a few minutes, add a mix of 5 drops oil with 1 tsp. raw honey. Repeat 3 – 5 times daily.
Calluses & Corns: Massage area with 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp. of carrier oil. Repeat 2 times daily. Once the corn or calluses have become soft use tweezers to remove, and apply a few drops of tea tree oil and cover with bandage.
Canker Sores: Apply a drop or two of oil directly to infected area with a cotton swab, 2 times daily. Also, rinse as directed for bad breath.
Carbuncles: Add a drop or two of oil to cotton swab and apply directly to carbuncle. Repeat twice daily.
Chapped Lips: Add 1 or 2 drops of oil to lip balm. Apply to lips as necessary.
Chicken Pox: Apply a drop of oil directly to blisters. Allow to dry, then dust with corn starch. Repeat every few hours or until blisters disappear.
Chigger Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
Cold Sores: Apply a drop or two of oil directly to the sore with a cotton swab. Re-apply 2 – 3 times daily.
Coughs: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes.
Dandruff: Add 20 – 30 drops oil to any shampoo. Apply a few drops to scalp and massage after washing.
Dermatitis: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of grapeseed or other oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily.
Dry Skin: Add 5 drops oil to 1 tbsp sweet almond oil. Massage into skin.
Earache and Infection: Add 2 – 3 drops of oil to 2 tbsp warm olive oil. With a dropper, drop a small amount into aching ear, tilting head to one side for a moment. Use cotton swab to absorb oil. Repeat 2 – 3 times daily.
Eczema: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or coconut oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
Emphysema: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes.
Flea Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
Gout: Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil; massage into affected area 2-3 times a day.
Gum Disease: Create a mouthwash with purified water, 1 drop of peppermint and 1 drop of tea tree oil.
Head Lice: Add 20 drops of oil to 2 tbsp shampoo. Massage into scalp and hair, leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat 3 – 4 times daily, until eggs are gone.
Hives: Add 10 drops of oil to 4 tbsp of witch hazel. Apply with cotton ball. Or, mix with coconut oil (which is naturally healing and soothing itself) and gently apply to the infected areas.
Homemade Mouthwash: Make a simple homemade mouthwash with purified water and tea tree oil.
Household Cleaning: Can be used aromatically or added to homemade cleaners to kill germs and prevent the spread of colds and flus. You can make a general tea tree cleaner by combining 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend and use for household cleaning tasks. This is especially good in the bathroom and in toilets.
Immune System: To stimulate the immune system, diffuse through the air on a regular basis, massage into the soles of the feet to increase your immune response.
Infected Wounds: Adding the oil to steaming water, hold the infected area over the steam. Or dilute 1 drop of tea tree with 1 cup of water and rinse the infected area 1-2 times a day, as needed.
Inflammation: Massage over the inflamed areas, gently and always toward the heart, or diffuse and inhale the tea tree oil directly or indirectly.
Ingrown Hairs: Add 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to area. Repeat every 2 hours or until signs of infection disappear.
Insect Repellant: Add 15 drops to a quart of water and use as an effective insect repellent.
Jock Itch: Apply 10 – 15 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil. Apply 2 times daily. Dust with corn starch, to reduce chapping.
Laryngitis: Add 5 – 10 drops of oil and pinch of sea salt to 1 cup of warm water, gargle 2-3 times a day. Do not swallow!
Laundry Helper: Add 1/2 teaspoon tea tree oil to your laundry for towels and other fabric prone to getting moldy.
Mildew and Mold Remover: Spray an all-purpose cleaner made with 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and 2 cups of water on growing mold and mildew. Shake well before using and do not rinse.
Mosquito Bites: Apply a drop of oil directly to bites.
Muscle Aches and Pains: Add 10-15 drops of oil to half cup Epsom salts, and dissolve in bath. Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of carrier oil. Massage well.
Mumps: Massage over the body and into the feet, and diffuse through the home.
Nail Fungus: Add 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to nail and the surrounding tissue. Allow to dry completely on hands before touching anything. Repeat morning and night for a week.
Pest Control: Household ants and other pests dislike Tea Tree Oil, so a few drops put at the point of entry will deter them. Wipe cupboards out with an oil and water solution to keep ants away.
Plantar Warts: Apply oil undiluted to affected area 2-3 times daily.
Psoriasis: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
Rashes: Mix with coconut oil and massage over the affected areas.
Rheumatism: To help reduce pain associated with rheumatism, add 20 drops of tea tree oil to 2 ounces of carrier oil. Massage into affected are 2-3 times a day.
Ringworm: Apply a drop or two of oil undiluted, repeat 2 times daily. Can also mix 1 drop of tea tree oil with 1 drop of lavender oil for added benefit.
Rubella: Dilute as needed and massage into the affected areas.
Scabies: Apply 1 – 2 drops of oil directly to area in the morning and at night.
Sciatica: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Also can be applied undiluted.
Seborrhea: For skin: Add 10 drops oil to 1 tbsp of carrier oil and massage into affected areas. Repeat 2-3 times daily. For scalp: Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp shampoo. Massage into scalp and hair, leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat 3 – 4 times daily. Bath: Add 10-15 drops of oil to bath.
Shingles: Add 10-15 drops of oil to half cup Epsom salts, and dissolve in bath. Add 10 drops of oil to 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil or coconut oil and massage well.
Shock: Massage tea tree oil into the soles of the feet as needed.
Sinusitis: Use as directed for bronchial infections. For a vaporizer, add 10 drops to steamer and leave on 5 – 10 minutes. Also add 2 drops to a neti pot.
Sore muscles. Fill your bathtub with warm water. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the water to relax tight muscles.
Sore Throat: Add 2 drops of oil to 1 cup of warm water with pinch of sea salt, gargle 2-3 times a day. Do not swallow!
Staph Infection: Best used topically, rubbed into the soles of the feet to increase the immune response and fight infection.
Stye: Add 5 drops oil to a pan of steaming water. Drape towel overhead and steam 5 minutes. Apply warm compresses directly to stye.
Sunburn: Mix 1 TB coconut oil with 1 drop of tea tree and 1 drop of lavender and gently apply to to sunburned areas.
Tattoos: Apply after tattoos to avoid infection. Use undiluted, diluted with coconut oil or as a spray with purified water.
Thrush: Gargle with sea salt, warm water and 1 drop of tea tree.
Ticks: Apply a drop or two directly to the tick and the surrounding area.
Toenail fungus: Rub the tea tree oil directly onto the affected toenail and underneath the tip of the nail. Apply 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil. Apply the oil once a day, preferably at bedtime.
Toothbrush Cleaner: Apply oil directly to toothbrush 1-2 times a week to kill bacteria.
Tonsillitis: Inhale from steaming water with tea tree, gargle, and massage into neck and soles of feet.
Vaginal Infection: Add several drops to the bath water.
Viral Infections: Diffuse tea tree oil throughout the home or inhale from steaming water.
Warts: Apply undiluted directly to wart. Use morning and night, until wart begins to disappear. Dilute if necessary for sensitive skin.
Wounds: Soak wounded area in water with tea tree oil, or spritz from a bottle of water with several drops of oil. Depending on the wound and your own sensitivity you may be able to apply directly.
Source: backdoor survival.com
Lemongrass also has been traditionally used as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory oil and in aromatherapy is recommended for acne and fungal conditions, excessive preparation, anxiety, inflammatory conditions, headaches and stomach pain.