Sensitivity of Candida Albicans to Essential Oils: Are They an Alternative to Antifungal Agents?

Sensitivity of Candida Albicans to Essential Oils: Are They an Alternative to Antifungal Agents?

Author Information

Bona E1, Aznar R1, Pavan M1, Novello G1, Massa N1, Rocchetti A2, Berta G1, Gamalero E1.

1Departament of Microbiology and Ecology, University of Valencia, Av. Dr. Moliner, 50, Burjassot, 46100 Valencia, Spain.

2Azienda Sanitaria Santi Antonio, Biagio e Cesare Arrigo, Alessandria, Italy.


AIMS: Candida albicans is an important opportunistic pathogen, responsible for the majority of yeast infections in humans. Essential oils, extracted from aromatic plants, are well-known antimicrobial agents, characterized by a broad spectrum of activities, including antifungal properties. The aim of this work was to assess the sensitivity of 30 different vaginal isolated strains of C. Albicans to 12 essential oils, compared to the three main used drugs (clotrimazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole).

METHODS AND RESULTS: Thirty strains of C. Albicans were isolated from vaginal swab on CHROMagar™ Candida. The agar disc diffusion method was employed to determine the sensitivity to the essential oils. The antifungal activity of the essential oils and antifungal drugs (clotrimazole, itraconazole and fluconazole) were investigated using a microdilution method. Transmission and scanning electron microscopy analyses were performed to get a deep inside on cellular damages. Mint, basil, lavender, tea tree oil, winter savory and oregano essential oils inhibited both the growth and the activity of C. albicans more efficiently than clotrimazole. Damages induced by essential oils at the cellular level were stronger than those caused by clotrimazole.

CONCLUSIONS: Candida albicans is more sensitive to different essential oils compared to the main used drugs. Moreover, the essential oil affected mainly the cell wall and the membranes of the yeast.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The results of this work support the research for new alternatives or complementary therapies against vaginal candidiasis.

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