(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2009) Some researchers are suggesting that sanitizers made with essential oil are a solution to harmful soaps with antibacterials. Cinnamon oil, according to many recent studies, has been shown to have strong antiseptic properties, without creating the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Many antibacterial products, such as those containing triclosan, work by killing some, but not all bacteria, which means that widespread use has led to resistant strains and cross resistance with antibiotics.
A recent study however, found that a cinnamon oil solution was just as effective at killing several common bacteria as many other antiseptics commonly used in hospitals. The team of surgeons conducting the research tested several common essential oils, and found that each has demonstrated promising efficacy against several bacteria, including multi-resistant strains.
Another study by researchers in France in 2008 tested bactericidal activity of 13 different essential oils and had similar results, with cinnamon being the most effective. At concentrations as low as 10 percent or less, cinnamon oil was also effective against several antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and E. coli.
One pediatrician in New Jersey, Dr. Lawrence D. Rosen, who advocates natural health solutions on his blog, wholechildcenter.org, recommends a homemade hand sanitizer called thieves oil.
“I add cinnamon bark, lemon oil and eucalyptus,” he said. “The recipe goes back to the Middle Ages, where it was used by these thieves who would go around stealing jewelry from dead bodies, and they never got sick.”
In light of other recent news about essential oils for agricultural use, we may be seeing many more products that contain essential oils on the market. While this may be good news for the consumer, it is important to proceed with caution. Beyond Pesticides has long been an advocate for the use of non-toxic and least toxic pesticide alternatives. Essential oils are classified as a least-toxic method for pest management; however, just because it is derived from a plant does not mean that it is safe for humans and other mammals or that it cannot kill a wide variety of other life. Some botanical pesticides can be quite toxic to humans and should not be used. It’s crucial to read all labels and follow directions on a product before using, to make sure it does not also contain any toxic pesticides, synergists or non-disclosed inert ingredients.
Also, if you are chemically sensitive or have allergies, you will need to carefully evaluate the product to decide whether it makes sense for you to use. Cinnamon oil may cause reactions in some people.
For more information on chemical antibacterials and alternatives, please see our Antimimicrobials and Antibacterials Page.
Source: New York Times