Cinnamon oil could play an important role in preventing superbugs, a new study suggests. As antibiotics becomes less effective against superbugs, something as simple as cinnamon oil could hold a potential solution.
New research, published in Microbiology, found that cinnamon oil inhibited the development of biofilm, a sticky film of bacteria (like the plaque that forms on teeth) – that can cause persistent infections, which resist even the strongest antibiotics.
Dr Sanjida Halim Topa from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne said: “Though many previous studies have reported antimicrobial activity of cinnamon essential oil, it is not widely used in the pharmaceutical industry.
“We aimed to search for the molecular activity of this oil, focusing on its major component, cinnamaldehyde. This is the compound that gives cinnamon its flavour.”
Cinnamon is an ancient spice that has been used medically for thousands of years. Previous studies have shown it can help prevent auto-immune diseases, boost brain health, and fight inflammation.
Rather than killing the bacteria, Dr Topa was looking to modify the behaviour of bacteria by disrupting bacterial communication to prevent biofilm formation.
“We hypothesised that using natural antimicrobials, such as essential oils, might interfere in biofilm formation,” she says. “Thus, we focused on the impact of different concentrations of cinnamaldehyde in different biofilm development stages.”
Dr Topa tested the effect of different concentrations of cinnamaldehyde on biofilms formed by the pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain of bacteria. She found that a sub-lethal concentration of cinnamaldehyde controlled the dispersion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the development of biofilm.
“Humans have a long history of using natural products to treat infections, and there is a renewed focus on such antimicrobial compounds. Natural products may offer a promising solution to this problem,” Dr Topa concludes.
Dr Topa is now investigating embedding cinnamaldehyde in nanofibres in wound dressings.
Read more: Echinacea: An age-old immune-boosting herb
Scientists are now looking to essential oils to provide a possible alternative to antibiotics. Essential oils have been used for centuries and as more people discover age-old remedies for feeling better, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy techniques is rising dramatically.