The use of essential oils as natural antimicrobial compounds has attracted growing interest in recent times. Antimicrobial agents destroy the airborne microorganisms which are typically the source of unpleasant odours. The effective antimicrobial action of various essential oils and their discrete components on different species of microorganisms, such as Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been previously observed and reported.
The measurable antimicrobial activity of essential oils can be increased by the efficient encapsulation of the oil in a solubilizing carrier. This encapsulation increases the equilibrium concentration of essential oils in the aqueous phase, and the antimicrobial activity has been found to increase with increased essential oil concentration.
In general, if a microbial disinfection action is desired, the best option appears to be the use of a delivery system formulated with an emulsifier with high affinity with the essential oil components. This enables the solubilisation of the component molecules in aqueous phase at a high concentration, preferably higher than the water solubility.
Natural sugar esters obtained from renewable raw materials of vegetable origin have proven to be very effective essential oils emulsifiers. These non-ionic solubilisers consist of fatty acid molecules as a lipophilic group with a glucose molecule attached as a hydrophilic group. The requisite antimicrobial compounds are immediately available on emulsification, and antimicrobial activity is evident over short time scales.
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 Journal of Biotechnology 159 (2012) 342–350.