Cinnamon oil may help prevent superbug infections: Study

Natural products may offer a promising solution to tackle such issues.

Cinnamon essential oil could play a key role in preventing infection from bacteria that are resistant to the most potent antibiotics, according to a study.

Researchers from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia investigated cinnamaldehyde, a major component of cinnamon essential oil. They found that it inhibited the development of biofilm, a sticky film of bacteria - like the plaque that forms on teeth - that can cause persistent infections, which resist even the most potent antibiotics.

There is an urgent need to develop alternatives to antibiotics to treat chronic biofilm-mediated infections, such as may occur with urinary catheters and artificial joints, said Swinburne researcher Sanjida Halim Topa.

"Though many previous studies have reported antimicrobial activity of cinnamon essential oil, it is not widely used in the pharmaceutical industry," Topa said. "We aimed to search for the molecular activity of this oil, focusing on its major component, cinnamaldehyde. This is the compound that gives cinnamon its flavour," she said.

Rather than killing the bacteria, Topa was looking to modify the behaviour of bacteria by disrupting bacterial communication to prevent biofilm formation.

"We hypothesised that using natural antimicrobials, such as essential oils, might interfere in biofilm formation. Thus, we focused on the impact of different concentrations of cinnamaldehyde in different biofilm development stages," Topa said.

She tested the effect of different concentrations of cinnamaldehyde on biofilms formed from the pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain of bacteria.

Topa found that a sub-lethal concentration of cinnamaldehyde controlled the dispersion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the development of biofilm.

"Humans have a long history of using natural products to treat infections, and there is a renewed focus on such antimicrobial compounds. Natural products may offer a promising solution to this problem," Topa said.

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