One of the most common diseases, which sooner or later we all, in the course of life, experience, is certainly given by urinary tract infections caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli, but also Staphylococcus saprophyticus or Proteus mirabilis. In general, antibiotics are used to treat these problems. However, there is an increasing resistance by bacteria to drugs commonly used against this type of infections. This is why scientists are researching new treatments, also drawing from the world of plants. Some essential oils, in particular tea tree and thyme, have shown promise in the treatment of cystitis, as emerges from a recent scientific research published in the journal Antibiotics thanks to the work of a German team (Loose et al, Antibiotics, 2020).
Essential oils and urinary tract infections
Some essential oils, more than others, show antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties useful in case of urinary tract infections. For example, previous studies have shown that the essential oils of geranium and coriander are able to enhance the action of antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and gentamicin (Scazzocchio et al, Nat Prod Commun, 2017 - Malik et al, Phytother Res, 2011). That is why, in the research we are talking about today, scientists have focused on four different essential oils, all with proven antibacterial properties, to verify their action in case of urinary tract infections. The essential oils studied were tea tree, thyme, cajeput and lemongrass.
Essential oils and cystitis, the experiment
In the laboratory, researchers put these essential oils in contact with artificial urine into which different strains of bacteria, commonly responsible for cystitis, had been injected. What emerged was that all four essential oils were bactericidal. But the essential oils of thyme and tea tree showed a superior antibacterial action compared to cajeput and lemongrass. This is probably due to the fact that the two main active ingredients of tea tree and thyme, such as linalool and terpinen-4-ol, are more effective in destroying the cell barrier and therefore the integrity of the bacteria than the active ingredients of the other two essential oils, namely geraniol and cineaol. Not only that, a synergistic action was also found between tea tree and thyme. In fact, the combination of these two essential oils has enhanced their antibacterial action. Finally, the essential oils have been shown to be beneficial also in case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibacterial essential oils, warnings
Therefore, essential oils, especially thyme and tea tree, can be considered an alternative in case of antibiotic resistant bacteria or a complementary treatment to medicines commonly used in case of cystitis and urinary tract infections. In any case, since every treatment with essential oils involves taking 2 drops of essence by mouth in a teaspoon of honey or a small glass of water, it is always good to ask your doctor for advice before starting the treatment.