Almost every essential oil ever tested for anti-bacterial activity has shown at least a moderate anti-bacterial action, and there are a few oils that are most highly regarded for this property, namely Oregano, Tea Tree and ‘Benchmark’ Thyme – though one of these stands out as our favorite.
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 (also frequenly referred to as Melaluca alternifolia) 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, 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 bacteria, which the developers originally had in mind when they developed this therapeutically-important essential oil in the first place.