Recent advances in the application of antibacterial complexes using essential oils

Tae Jin Cho, Sun Min Park, Hary Yu, Go Hun Seo, Hye Won Kim, Sun Ae Kim, Min Suk Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Although antibacterial spectrum of essential oils (EOs) has been analyzed along with consumers' needs on natural biocides, singular treatments generally require high concentration of EOs and long-term exposures to eliminate target bacteria. To overcome these limitations, antibacterial complex has been developed and this review analyzed previous reports regarding the combined antibacterial effects of EOs. Since unexpectable combined effects (synergism or antagonism) can be derived from the treatment of antibacterial complex, synergistic and antagonistic combinations have been identified to improve the treatment efficiency and to avoid the overestimation of bactericidal efficacy, respectively. Although antibacterial mechanism of EOs is not yet clearly revealed, mode of action regarding synergistic effects especially for the elimination of pathogens by using low quantity of EOs with short-term exposure was reported. Whereas comprehensive analysis on previous literatures for EO-based disinfectant products implies that the composition of constituents in antibacterial complexes is variable and thus analyzing the impact of constituting substances (e.g., surfactant, emulsifier) on antibacterial effects is further needed. This review provides practical information regarding advances in the EO-based combined treatment technologies and highlights the importance of following researches on the interaction of constituents in antibacterial complex to clarify the mechanisms of antibacterial synergism and/or antagonism.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermolecules25071752
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • Anti-infectious effect
  • Antibacterial antagonism
  • Antibacterial complex
  • Antibacterial mode-of-action
  • Antibacterial synergism
  • Antimicrobial effect
  • Combined treatment
  • Disinfectant
  • Emulsion
  • Natural antimicrobial agent


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