The Antibacterial Effect of Essential Oils for the Nursing Practice

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Yuka Saeki, PhD
Graduate School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science Course, Ehime University, Toon, Ehime, Japan
Kimiko Akamatsu, RN, MN
Graduate School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science Course, Ehime University, Toon, Japan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to prevent expansion of the infection.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the effects of essential oils and apply to nursing practice.

Essential oils are used by inhalation or massage to be relaxed and some oils have been known to be able antibacterial.  This study was designed to clarify the antibacterial effect of essential oils and investigate an application in nursing practice.

Antibacterial effect was evaluated by measuring adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP).  ATP is a chemical substance that acts as an energy source for all living organisms on the planet.  The presence of ATP can be considered proof of the presence of a living organism.  ATP were measured at total 14 places including some kitchen knives, cutting boards, doorknobs, sinks, overflows in the bathroom, and so on.  Samples were obtained by wiping the surface of the things to be measured using a cotton swab.  Water soluble essential oils dissolved with an emulsifier were used in this study.  This water-soluble essential oil was blended with tea tree, grapefruit and frankincense and diluted to100 times with sterilized distilled water and used as spray.  ATP in sample obtained from a part sprayed with liquid containing essential oils was compared to that without spray (control).

ATP in control were from at least 12 RLU (Relative Lite Unit) at a kitchen knife to at maximum 91702 at an overflow in the bathroom.  After spraying essential oil, ATP showed values from 7 to 11954 and it was a significant decrease to 54.5 + 39.8 % (mean + SD) compared to control.

These results indicate that essential oil must be available to prevent infection by spraying liquid containing essential oil to various things in daily life.  In order to apply to nursing practice, further investigation including antibacterial effects of essential oils on nursing clothes and various things in clinical practice would be needed.