Essential oils are a highly concentrated form of aromatic compounds extracted from a medicinal plant or produced during the extraction process. Essential oils have a range of biological properties such as antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antiseptic.


Each essential oil is made up of a complex combination of chemical constituents. Most essential oils contain between 20 and 60 different natural compounds making their unique aroma and identity. Usually only 2 of 3 of these chemical constituents are present in a high concentration with the remaining constituents only found in a trace amount.


The chemical constituents of essential oils vary according to the plant species, geographic location, growth stage of the plant and the extraction method. The concentration of each chemical compound found in a particular essential oil is determined using GC/MS testing (Gas-Chromatography mass spectrometry). The results are shown in a graph where the concentration of each compound is measured.


Research has found many of the chemical constituents present in essential oils to be effective against a variety of pathogens. Thus, the antiviral and antibacterial properties of essential oils can be determined by the type of chemical constituents present in the essential oil.

Clove Essential Oil

The essential oils of Cinnamon, Clove, Thyme, Oregano, and Rosemary have been shown to possess strong antibacterial activity against some common types of bacteria.

Other essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon Myrtle and Lemongrass have been shown effective against a range of pathogens.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil

The antimicrobial effect of most essential oils was correlated to the occurrence of the major compounds such as carvacrol, thymol, cinnamic aldehyde, menthol, eugenol, linalyl acetate and p-cymene.

Research has shown that the chemical compounds present in essential oils may be able to disrupt the cell membrane of some types of pathogens by increasing membrane permeability, inducing leakage and interrupting the cellular metabolism.


The best way to benefit from the antiviral and antibacterial properties of essential oils is by diffusing them to purify the air, add them to cleaning products or apply them topically under the guidance of your Aromatherapist to help fight off infections.


Research in the field of essential oils is still growing and there is much more to be discovered.

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Author: Elisabeth Lemieux
Marketing Coordinator

Liz is the Marketing Coordinator at ECO. Modern Essentials and oversees the company’s brand and communication strategy. Liz has extensive experience in brand management, strategy development and digital marketing across a range of direct-to-consumer businesses in the health and wellness industry. She is a qualified Yoga instructor and has been practicing for nearly a decade. Liz is passionate about everything wellness and has a strong interest in holistic health.


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