Reprinted from Reuters Health

English: Glass vial containing Eucalyptus Radi...

A pair of orthopaedic surgeons report that two essential oils—eucalyptus and tea-tree oil—are surprisingly effective at treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

Despite the positive findings, though, others say it is too soon to consider such oils an alternative to antibiotics.

The researchers presented their findings at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Dr. Eugene Sherry of the University of Sydney in Australia said that, applied to the skin of infected wounds an antibacterial wash derived from Eucalyptus radiata and Melaleuca alternifolia—better known as eucalyptus and tea-tree oil—can work when modern antibiotics fail.

Essential oils like these are mostly used in aromatherapy, Sherry noted.

He said that he used the combination “once a day for several months” in a series of 25 patients with MRSA.

“Twenty-two of the infections resolved completely,” Sherry reported. In 19 patients, the infections resolved without the use of antibiotics, while three patients required antibiotic treatment, he said.

Before Sherry applied the solution, he removed dead skin and infected tissue from the wound, a process called debridement. Sixteen of the infections involved the bone and three had spread to muscle.

In addition, 10 of the patients were diabetic, which “makes healing of wounds very difficult,” Sherry said in an interview with Reuters Health.

Two years ago, Sherry attended a presentation about the antibacterial properties of essential oils and decided to research the subject. He said that he discovered a wealth of 50-year-old research concerning essential oils, but said “all that research was abandoned when modern science discovered antibiotics.”

When Sherry decided to initiate a trial of eucalyptus and tea-tree oil in MRSA patients, he discovered that Dr. Patrick H. Warnke, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Kiel in Germany, was pursuing a parallel study. So the two combined their work to produce the 25-patient MRSA study.

Warnke said they are now studying an aerosolized version of the compound in laboratory studies of tuberculosis. When they sprayed the compound on tuberculosis cultures “we wiped out TB, killed it, in 40 minutes. No antibiotic does that,” Warnke told Reuters Health.

Both doctors said that they have received no funding from the makers of the essential oils, nor do they have financial interests in companies producing the substances.

Dr. Harris Gellman, professor of medicine at the University of Miami and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said the new study is “interesting and exciting,” but the treatment is nowhere near ready for prime time.

Gellman pointed out that although the results are positive, the authors have not provided enough information. For example, he said, the information about the site of the infection, duration before the essential oils treatment, and comparison to a “control” group are all missing from the study.

The bottom line, Gellman said, is that “we don’t know if these patients would have recovered irrespective of treatment.”

But even with those caveats, Gellman said he is pleased that orthopaedic surgeons are “finally going back” to evaluate traditional therapies for infection.

“Most medicinals come from plants,” he noted, “so the natural progression is to look to more plants for more treatments.”

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  • Paul

    “Most medicinals come from plants,” he noted, “so the natural progression is to look to more plants for more treatments.”

    You think?

  • Jennifer Rebekah Billis-Gehrke

    I have a friends with MRSA and would like to make this up for them and instruct them about how to apply it. What is the formula and how is it applied?

  • surethom

    others say it is too soon to consider such oils an alternative to antibiotics. Is a typical medical answer, but KNOW one says use instead of antibiotics they should both be used to get the best treatment. Virtually no doctor would even mention non pharmaceutical drugs this is why the Internet is used so often.

  • Diana Anderson

    Looking forward to the day when those in the medical field are more accepting of Essential Oils and natural remedies.

  • susan

    I had a boil open on my forehead ! I’ve been using young living
    Lavendar after I put some dial soap on it.
    Then neosporin
    I don’t want a scar ! I’ve also read about tea tree oil
    But mine is from cvs
    Is it best to keep moist vs scab since I’m trying to
    Ensure no scar!
    Is frankincense oil better than lavendar! ?

    I’d appreciate your help!

    • Joy McCoy Bukowski

      Do not put any oil that is not young living on your skin … Only Young Living has the guarantee. Other oils are distilled using solvents. And are over distilled diluting the healing properties. Frankincense is better for scarring yes. again only use Young Living.

      • Antoinette

        It sounds like your a YoungLiving distributor. Did you know that Young Living dumps Neurotoxins in most of their oils and if you are prone to seizures you shouldn’t use their product at all

        • Joy McCoy Bukowski

          That’s not true.

      • Wendy Foster

        There ARE other oils besides Young Living that are not distilled using solvents. DoTerra – for example, are Certified Pure Theraputic Grade oils. While I am not going to promote or push one over the other, I certainly suggest educating yourself on how oils are produced for sale.

        • Joy McCoy Bukowski

          Doterra adds synthetic chemicals to.their oils. Find your closest YL rep and compare your peppermint.

          • Wendy Foster

            Peppermint is not relative to MRSA, however I did look at peppermint and there are absolutely no synthetics in doterra’s oils. While I am not promoting one over the other, I find it quite distasteful that YL’s reps don’t seem to have a problem doing so. ‘Seed to seal’ doesn’t require a met standard, but is quite a catchy phrase. Again, I encourage everyone to do their own research and formulate their own opinion on what is right for them.

    • Christine Matthews

      There are many trustworthy sources of pure, and high quality essential oils. In fact. Young Living has recentlh failed a series of laboratory testing that showed tbeir cinnamon essential oil to be adulterated with synthetics, and whats worse is their reps are not trained aromatherapists and they shell.out very dangerous usage suggestions. Please contact an actual certified aromatherapist with questions and ALWAYS dilute essential oils to no more than 5% before applying to skin, and research dermal maximums for each oil you use, as some are more irritating to skin and/or can cause allergy when applied to conventrated (including but not limited to lemongrass, cinnamon, peppermint, and any synergy blends containing them, and a great many more essential.oils, too many to name). Good luck to you.

      • RKWA

        The cinnamon EO story has been discredited months ago. Please stop spreading it. No, I’m not a distributor. Only a user.

    • RKWA

      Frankincense for no scarring. … and no picking at the scabs…

  • Debbie Boggs

    I would like to know how to determine how many drops to use in the diffuser. Is there anything written down aomewhere? I have PSEUDOMONEOUS in my tibia and it’s not responding to meds. I need help.