Essential oils, infection and antibiotics.

Resistance to antibiotics and indeed to antifungal drugs as well is a major problem acknowledged by those in the medical profession and blamed by many campaigners on their widespread routine use in agriculture. This article outlines how essential oils could be used to greatly reduce the use of antibiotics.

It is worth looking at why essential oils are successful in treating infections.

Antibiotics only target one part of the life cycle of bacteria. That is the main reason they are able to develop resistance.Essential oils affect a minimum of two parts of the life cycle through four or more different mechanisms. This is what makes development of resistance very unlikely.

The same is true of the use of thyme oil to treat the varroa mite in honey bee populations. Compared with synthetic pyrethroids which the mites develop resistance to in a minimum of five years. In this case the thymol in the oil which is also the only active ingredient in many commercial applications attacks the mite on three different fronts.

We use tea tree and other essential oils as part of our cleaning regime for our chicken huts, feeders and drinkers. To date we have not had any problems with red mite or intestinal worms. I can’t claim it is only the essential oils as other aspects of good husbandry will also help with both of these.

I also know that one of my regular customers for a skin balm I make with frankincense, geranium and sea buckthorn oils along with olive oil and beeswax from my bees uses it to combat athletes foot with success.

It is worth noting that as well as containing many compounds that are anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, making it virtually impossible for an organism to develop resistance to the oils, the exact chemical composition of the oils will vary from year to year depending on changing weather conditions making the development of resistance even more difficult.

Tea tree and some other essential oils are also thought by some to boost the immune system. This widely made claim has however not been proven in clinical trials to my knowledge.