The Three Most Popular Anti-Bacterial Oils, and the One We Think Is Best!

Almost every essential oil ever tested for anti-bacterial activity has shown at least a moderate anti-bacterial action, though there are a few oils that are most highly regarded for this property, namely Oregano, Tea Tree and Thyme – though one of these stands out as our favorite.

Oregano Essential Oil


Oregano is the ‘heavy hitter’ of the bunch. It’s not really supposed to be applied to to the skin at all (though can be used for toenail fungus), but taken internally, for stomach or intestinal bacteria, and particularly Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. In fact, enteric-coated Oregano essential oil capsules are available around the country in health food stores particularly for IBS.


Capsules of the oil coated in this way do not release the oil in the stomach, but in the small-intestine. There, Oregano essential oil can do its duty and eradicate bacteria from small pockets – bacteria which inflame the pockets and are a primary cause of this painful condition.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree

Tea Tree essential oil (or TTO for short) is often used topically on small wounds, scrapes and scratches. It is important to note that Tea Tree should be applied to a bandage, not directly on the wound. If application to the wound is intended, it should be dabbed on with a cotton ball, and any excess removed with a dry cotton ball or clean tissue paper.


Tea Tree can also be blended at least 50:50 with Lavender for topical application – Lavender having strong anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Tea tree oil is by far the most popular natural anti-septic, having also been shown to be an excellent choice for acne care – it can be added to Grapeseed oil at a concentration of between 5 and 10% – grapeseed oil being mildly astringent, and will not exacerbate acne in any way.

Now for our favorite:

Thyme Essential Oil


Thyme essential oil, and not just any Thyme, but ‘Benchmark’ Thyme. There are a great many Thyme essential oil varieties available, and most of them are simply too hot to be applied to the skin at all (like Oregano in this manner). Then there is Thyme c.t. linalool (c.t. stands for ‘chemotype’, which is the most gentle form of Thyme, yet it is not as strongly anti-bacterial as Thyme c.t Thujanol, for example. ‘Benchmark’ Thyme is, however, strongly anti-bacterial (AND strongly anti-viral as well).


The developers, Benchmark Oils of the UK, have blended the pure essential oils of 4 different chemotypes of Thymus zygis. The GCMS of the resultant essential oil indicates the presence of important anti-bacterial components of Thyme and Tea Tree essential oils, but to the skin, it’s as gentle as Thyme linalool. It can be dabbed on small cuts and scrapes, provided any excess oil is removed as with Tea Tree.

‘Benchmark Thyme’ will likely be effective for a broader-range of skin infections than Tea Tree – including “athlete’s foot”, which Tea Tree is not particularly helpful in eradicating. As a side note, ‘Benchmark Thyme’ is the only essential oil to be shown effective in treatment of the MRSA virus, which the developers originally had in mind when they developed this therapeutically-important essential oil in the first place.


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9 Responses to The Three Most Popular Anti-Bacterial Oils, and the One We Think Is Best!

  1. Ann Wooledge says:

    Thank you for your usual very educated and helpful discourse about essential oils. I use your blog often as a resource; however, I am somewhat confused by the last sentence about Benchmark Thyme being the ONLY essential oil shown to be effective against MRSA. As a nurse who has seen more than her share of MRSA, I have been particularly interested in research about the use of essential oils against this resistant bacteria. I have quite a few articles in my database showing other oils to be quite effective. I also have personal and professional use of some essential oils and blends that did not have Benchmark Thyme in them that worked quickly and well. I’m just curious why you would make this statement?

  2. Eric@Ananda says:

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for your note. When researching essential oils and MRSA on Pubmed, all the the data I’ve seen indicates that while oils used in combination have been effective, no single oil alone has done the job. Just reading a study on Tea Tree, for example, and while it helped, it didn’t completely heal the wounds, and the patients weren’t MRSA-free at the end of the study. Geranium was another studied, and it was effective in combination with Citricidal. I’d be interested in seeing any data where a single oil has been consistently effective on a group of patients, and happy to retract my statement :)

    The folks that developed the Thymus zygis strains for Benchmark Thyme did so specifically to combat MRSA, and published a book, including their research, on the subject (actually available at the Ananda Apothecary).

  3. Deanna Johnsen says:

    Just curious why the studies done with DoTERRA’s On Guard essential oil blend weren’t mentioned. It was shown to inhibit the H1N1 virus, as well as kill MRSA.

  4. Iam looking for a combination of bamboo/jasmin. Do you carry one?

  5. Denise says:

    What oil blends do you have that compare to Young Living Thieves?


    • Eric@Ananda says:

      Hi – Our’s is PuriFy, on our essential oil blends page – perhaps of interest too is our Super Immune. We’ve used all the available research on the anti-viral properties of essential oils to create this formula, which we’ve had rave reviews about (Thieves is generally more of an anti-bacterial formula.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Sarah Thomas says:

    I am interested in your Guardian Angel soap, however, I am concerned that as a anti-bacterial it will damage all of the “good” bacteria. I have outlawed commercial anti-bacterial soap in my home and I am wondering if Guardian Angel will have the same harmful effect. I am done some research and get conflicting reports. Is Guardian Angel something that should only be used as an obvious preventative during cold and flu season or can it be used all the time? We have 4 young boys and I don’t think I need to explain that they are always gross!

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