Györgyi Hováth and Kamilla Acs
The appearance of multidrug resistant bacteria and growing antibiotic resistance is leading to a continuous need for discovering new drugs and alternative treatments against infections. The investigation of the antibacterial effect of essential oils (EOs), which are commonly used nowadays in cosmetics, health care, traditional medicine and food industry, could be one of the promising solutions for this worldwide problem. EOs have a complex mode of action due to their multiple composition. Respira- tory tract diseases (RTDs) associated with bacterial infection and inflammation affect a large number of people from every age group worldwide. Because of volatility, EOs can easily reach the upper and lower parts of the respiratory tract via inhalation. Moreover, due to their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory potency, they offer an effective treatment in respiratory tract infections (RTIs). The purpose of this review is to describe the most frequently developing infections of the upper and lower respira- tory tract and to show methods used for the determination of the antibacterial activity of EOs by gaseous contact. The mode of action of EOs on bacterial cells and their anti-inflammatory action are also discussed. Results coming from recently performed in vivo animal studies as well as human trials are also reported. Patents deal with the role of EOs and their volatile constituents in the treatment of RTIs are also introduced. On the whole, this review aimed at showing EOs as potential antimicrobials and as anti-inflammatory agents to alleviate symptoms and signs of RTDs including RTIs.