I am often asked which essential oils are helpful for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). I cannot and will not – diagnose, treat or prescribe or tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do – the information in this article is based on a scientific study, and what I do for certain types of unwanted things. This information is for educational purposes only. Please do the related research yourself to find out more as each situation and person are different, and decide what works for you.
A total of 91 higher quality single essential oils, and 64 blends were tested for their inhibitory activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in 2008.
Of the 91 single essential oils 78 exhibited zones of inhibition against MRSA.
Since the 1950s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that the proportion of overall staphylococcal infections due to MRSA has risen steadily from 2% in 1974, to 22% in 1995, to 63% in in 2004 in the USA. Although initially most MRSA infections were acquired in hospital (HA-MRSA) settings, the first appearance of a community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) occurred in 1982 among intravenous drug users in Detroit.
Since 1982 CA-MRSA (Community Acquired -MRSA) has grown annually into an ever-increasingly source of infections among individuals previously labeled as belonging to ‘low-risk’ groups.
Since cases of HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA are increasing, as are the rates of antibiotic therapy failures, many have been searching for new methods of prevention and treatment.[3-6] Research has revealed some promising novel antimicrobial candidates including superior quality essential oils, such as Young Living’s.
In vitro data indicate that many essential oils have antimicrobial activity. The activities that were investigated and their actions against various pathogens, including MRSA, were demonstrated. [8-14]
There are also several clinical studies [15, 16] and case reports [17, 18] noting the successful use of essential oils in treating MRSA nasal carriage or MRSA infections. Specifically, Dryden et al. and Caelli et al. reported that topical YL tea tree (YL Melaleuca) was effective as standard therapy for reducing MRSA nasal colonization; Sherry et al.[17, 18] reported successful treatment of patients with staphylococcal wound infections. However, several review articles[17, 18] have reported that, while use of essential oils as antimicrobial agents is promising, additional in vivo studies and more clinical studies involving larger numbers of subjects are needed.
Previous studies done in a lab have shown inhibition of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other pathogens by these various higher quality essential oils, but these oils were not tested specifically against MRSA.[7, 22, 23] This study was initiated to screen Young Living essential oils for inhibitory activity against medically important bacterium to determine their potential as candidates for use as disinfectants, antiseptics, or topical treatments against MRSA.
Of the 91 higher quality single essential oils that were screened by the disc diffusion assay, 78 had measurable inhibitory activity, while 13 exhibited no detectable inhibitory activity against MRSA.
Of these single essential oils tested, lemongrass, lemon myrtle, mountain savory, cinnamon bark and melissa showed the highest levels of inhibition.
Remarkably, the higher quality essential oil of lemongrass (60 mm) completely inhibited all MRSA growth on the plate.
Significant zones of inhibition (45-57 mm) were found for these higher quality essential oils: thyme, cumin, Eucalyptus citriodora, tsuga, oregano, Melaleuca arternifolia.
Intermediate inhibition zones (35-42 mm) were detected for the singles of: ledum, Eucalyptus dives, niaouli, manuka, peppermint, elemi, and rosewood.
Results of the Blends
Of the 64 higher quality blends tested, 52 showed zones of inhibition, while 12 showed no detectable inhibitory activity against MRSA.
Of the blends, the blend called R.C. scored the best (>83 mm), with the blends Motivation second, Longevity third.
It was noted that the single essential oils that showed little or no detectable zone of inhibition but when combined with other singles could produce significant zones of inhibition, suggesting a ‘synergy’ is occurring between the essential oils.
For instance, the blend ‘Motivation’ showed anti-MRSA activity greater than the individual single oils when tested alone. Thus, the diameter of the zone of inhibition is greater than would be expected if the effect was only due to the oils acting independently. Likewise, the data for the other two blends, R.C. and Longevity, imply synergism of the combined single oils in the blends.
What I like to do to ‘Prevent’ the Cooties in general…
Whenever possible I like to practice ‘prevention.’ A perfect example occurred this past spring when I seriously injured my foot and ankle and had to go to the Emergency Room. Here’s what I did because it was convenient…
Prior to getting out of the car, we squirted a nickel size dab of the Thieves hand sanitizer in our palms and rubbed it in well being sure to cover all parts of our hands.
After leaving the Emergency Room, but before opening the door of our car, we again paused to do our dabs of Thieves hand sanitizer.
As a general rule, I always carry a bottle of Thieves Waterless Hand Sanitizer in my purse, and keep one in the car – both have several drops of lemongrass added. We apply a dab prior to getting out of the car, particularly so when we will be touching things that many others have touched – like gas pump handles, door handles, shopping carts (which are extremely filthy! A side note: I do NOT recommend putting your purse, food or items in the child seat of the carts as they are loaded with bacteria, urine, and feces – studies have shown).
I personally prefer to take a proactive stance. What you choose to do, think, and follow is entirely up to you. I am not making any claims here, simply stating what I personally think might help keep me well. Since what I do has not been studied I have no proof that it actually does work in my favor. Still, I continue to do the things I think could help.
What I would do if I were in a Nursing Home or a stay in a Hospital
I would bring my TheraPro Diffuser, a bottle of R.C. and a bottle of Lemongrass – and – my Thieves Waterless Hand Sanitizer (with several drops of either lemongrass or R.C. added to it). I would also bring these items into these places if a loved one were there and leave them for that individual to use as needed.
Many hospitals in the UK diffuse (vaporize) essential oils to help prevent the spread of infections and as such their death rates from infection have also gone down. Researchers at the University of Manchester stated that essential oils could be easily blended into soaps and shampoos for use by hospital staff to stop the spread of the deadly bacteria, see article.
Fabrics Harbor MRSA (studies show)
To address this, I would use my Thieves Household Cleaner in the laundry (one capful per load in place of laundry detergent) and I would add a few drops of lemongrass to the load.
Additional facts regarding MRSA and where and how long it can live on various surfaces.
Therapy Dogs May Fetch Hospital Germs, NY Times Well Blogs
Bacterial Contamination of Fabric Stethoscope Covers, Chicago Jornals Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
While all of this sounds scary my personal opinion is that it’s important to be proactive. Whether it be from not sharing towels and clothing, washing hands frequently with a NON-antibacterial soap frequently, or choosing to use essential oils – any of these practices will be helpful in prevention.
“MRSA is spread by contact. So you could get MRSA by touching another person who has it on the skin. Or you could get it by touching objects that have the bacteria on them. MRSA is carried, or “colonized,” by about 1% of the population, although most of them aren’t infected. Staph (MRSA) can be a problem if it manages to get into the body, often through a cut. Once there, it can cause an infection. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S.” source: webmd.com
As I said, using common sense and practicing smart behavior can help prevent acquiring MRSA.
Inhibition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by essential oils Department of Microbiology, Weber State University, Ogden, UT, USA Flavour and Fragrance Journal (Impact Factor: 1.82). 10/2008; 23(6):444 – 449. DOI: 10.1002/ffj.1904
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MRSA in Healthcare Settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Atlanta GA, 2008
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Disclaimer: This article is my opinion and what I choose to do for prevention. The information found on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or prescribe any condition nor is it intended to prevent any disease or illness – it is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been approved by the FDA and are my expression of free speech. Please do the related research to discover what is right for you and always seek medical attention when you are experiencing problems.