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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3012462, 21 pages
Review Article

Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review

1Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
2Padmashree Institute of Management and Sciences, Kommagatta, Kengeri, Bangalore 560060, India
3Department of Botany, Gandhi Faiz-E-Aam College, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh 242001, India

Received 14 July 2016; Revised 10 September 2016; Accepted 9 October 2016

Academic Editor: Pinarosa Avato

Copyright © 2016 Mallappa Kumara Swamy et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A wide range of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) have been explored for their essential oils in the past few decades. Essential oils are complex volatile compounds, synthesized naturally in different plant parts during the process of secondary metabolism. Essential oils have great potential in the field of biomedicine as they effectively destroy several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens. The presence of different types of aldehydes, phenolics, terpenes, and other antimicrobial compounds means that the essential oils are effective against a diverse range of pathogens. The reactivity of essential oil depends upon the nature, composition, and orientation of its functional groups. The aim of this article is to review the antimicrobial potential of essential oils secreted from MAPs and their possible mechanisms of action against human pathogens. This comprehensive review will benefit researchers who wish to explore the potential of essential oils in the development of novel broad-spectrum key molecules against a broad range of drug-resistant pathogenic microbes.