The progress of essential oils as potential therapeutic agents: a review

Sara Baptista-Silva*, Sandra Borges, Oscar L. Ramos, Manuela Pintado, Bruno Sarmento

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Essential oils are products obtained from plants, by steam distillation, mechanical processes of citrus fruit epicarp, or dry distillation after separation of the aqueous phase by physical processes. They are usually composed of secondary metabolites of aromatic plants with oxygenated structures such as alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, and esters, presenting therapeutic properties such as antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activities. Essential oils are used in the pharmaceutical, food, and fragrance industries. The increasing use of plants by the pharmaceutical industry makes the study of essential oils crucial to design new bioactive delivery systems. This paper presents aliterature review that summarizes the best advanced data regarding the use of essential oils and their volatile constituents for biomedical applications with focuses on innovative pharmaceutical formulations. Nonetheless, it seems clear that more clinical evaluations are required until essential oils can be considered as possible applications in pharmacy or as adjuvants to current medications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Essential Oil Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


  • Biomedical potential
  • Essential oils
  • Pharmaceutical formulations


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