WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Researchers found a way to package compounds from peppermint oil and cinnamon into tiny capsules to kill bacteria and promote the growth of cells important in wound healing.
Essential oils, concentrated hydrophobic liquids that contain extracts from plants and flowers, have previously been shown as effective anti-microbial agents in studies for wound dressings.
"Essential oils and other natural compounds have emerged recently as alternative substances that can get rid of pathogenic bacteria, but researchers have had a hard time translating their antibacterial activity into treatments," researchers said in a press release.
In the study, published in ACS Nano, peppermint oil and cinnamaldehyde, the compound in cinnamon responsible for its flavor and aroma, were packed into silica nanoparticles. Microcapsules of these particles were shown to be effective against four types of bacteria, one of which was antibiotic-resistant.
In addition to the substances' antibacterial qualities, researchers found the combination of oils also promoted the growth of fibroblasts, a cell type important in wound healing.
Researchers said their hope was for the new material to be used in topical antibacterial treatments and disinfectants.
Similar combinations of essential oils have also been found to be effective in studies for fibrous wound dressings and to create alginate films, which could be used for food packaging and indoor air quality improvement materials.