Bacteria that live in our mouths cause more than just bad breath. Not only can they cause nasty tooth aches, they can cause infections that inflame the gums, tongue, inner lips, and inner cheeks. But what if there were natural oils from plants that not only tasted good, but were also effective in killing bacteria? Scientists in Iran decided to examine the effects of oils from seven plants that were common in Persian herbal medicine on the growth of bacteria that infected human mouths. Their findings were astonishing.
Who Are The Microbial Culprits?
Several groups of bacteria are responsible for many of the infections that occur in human mouths. Staphylococcus aureus is known to infect the mouths of children and the elderly. Enterococcus faecalis is commonly found in endodontic infections, otherwise known as infections of the soft pulp inside of a tooth. Bacteria are not the only trouble-makers in our mouths. Yeasts in a group known as Candida also infect the mouth when the human immune system is weak. In this study, all of the types of bacteria discussed in this section were tested.
The Seven Plants and Their Common Names
1.Ocimum sanctum (Common Name: Rayhan, or Holy Basil)
2.Artemisia sieberi (Common Name: Dermane, or Wormwood)
3.Zataria multiflora (Common Name: Avishan-E-Shirazi, or Za'atar)
4.Carum copticum (Common Name: Ajwain)
5.Oliveria decumbens (Common Name: Mooshkorok, or Denak)
6.Satureja khuzestanica (Common Name: Marzeh Khuzestani; belongs to family of herbs known collectively as Savory)
7.Satureja bachtiarica (Common Name: Unknown; belongs to family of herbs known collectively as Savory)
What Oils Were Most Effective?
Oils from all of the seven plants were able to kill bacteria and yeast. However, the most effective ones were Satureja khuzestanica (Common Name: Marzeh Khuzestani), Zataria multiflora (Common Name: Avishan-E-Shirazi, or Za'atar), and Satureja bachtiarica (Common Name: Unknown). The least effective oil was from Artemisia sieberi (Common Name: Dermane, or Wormwood). The implications from this study are that these plant oils can be an effective natural treatment to prevent oral infections when a person’s immune system is weakened, such as in the case when someone is taking broad spectrum antibiotics or when they have a vitamin deficiency.
Zomorodian et al. “Antimicrobial activity of seven essential oils from Iranian aromatic plants against common causes of oral infections.” Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology. 2015, 8(2):e17766.