Plants and plant oils

A wide variety of plants, their components flowers, fruits, leaves, grasses, roots, seeds, and herbs, demonstrate antimicrobial activity (Namita and Mukesh 2012). Essential oils from plants consist of a variety of hydrocarbons, and depending upon the ratios of major and minor components unique to a particular essential oil, contribute to the chemical composition. Tea tree oil is the most well-known essential oil from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree, a member of the botanical family Myrtaceane. The oil from the leaves is used medicinally and has found use in wound management. Scientific studies over recent years have shown it to be effective against bacterial, viral, and fungal organisms (Carson et al. 1998; Brady et al. 2006) whilst being a powerful immunostimulant, increasing the body’s ability to fight off illness or infection. The potential exists for tea tree oil or combinations of this antiseptic with other aromatics to be used successfully in wound healing due to both good antibacterial and antiseptic activity and compatibility with dressing materials (Edwards-Jones et al. 2004). Palaniappan and Holley (2010) found that natural oils could increase antibiotic susceptibility of drug-resistant bacteria which may open up a new path to achieving success in winning the fight against the emergence of ‘superbugs’ being seen in wound healing and other clinical disciplines.

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