Carvacrol is an oily and colorless
chemical compound that is found in the oils of oregano, marjoram, pepperwort, thyme and wild bergamot. It has the
distinct warm odor of oregano and has a spicy taste.
The essential oil derived from the wild plant Origanum vulgare contains 60% to 80% carvacrol. In the essential
oil of thyme it is about 75%. It is slightly soluble in water and very soluble in ether and ethanol. Because of its
anti-microbial properties, this substance is used as a food preservative, in the cosmetics industry, and in
What Makes Carvacrol Effective?
There are several reasons why carvacrol can act as an
effective anti-microbial agent.
1) It can inhibit the growth of several species of bacteria such as Bacillus cereus and E. coli. Its distinct
smell and taste together with its low toxicity to humans makes it a good food additive to prevent bacterial
contamination. It causes damage to the cell membrane of one bacteria specie, Pseudomonas aeruginosa thereby
preventing its growth and multiplication.
2) It is a powerful activator of our human channels transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1) and V3 (TRPV3).
These genes play an important role in the functioning of our pain sensing neurons, particularly in controlling pain
3) It activates PPAR and inhibits COX-2 inflammation. PPARs are a group of nuclear receptor proteins which
acts as transcription factors that regulate gene expressions. They play a vital role in cellular development and
differentiation as well as in our metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. COX-2 is an enzyme that induces
pain and inflammation.
Natural Sources Of Carvacrol
This chemical compound can be found in several plants. Here is
a list of them.
• Origanum vulgare
• Origanum microphyllum
• Origanum dictamus
• Origanum onites
• Origanum compactum
• Origanum scabrum
• Thymus glandulosus
Among these sources, the most commonly known is origanum vulgare. This plant also contains the highest
amount of carvacrol in its composition, which is about 80%. It can also be extracted from oregano oil by means of a
50% potash solution.
Carvacrol Can Also Be Synthesized
Carvacrol can be prepared synthetically by the following methods:
• Fusing caustic potash with cymol sulfonic acid
• By the action of nitrous acid on 1-methyl-2-amino-4-propyl benzene
• By heating one part of iodine with five parts of camphor
• By heating carvol (an aromatic oil similar to carvacrol) with glacial phosphoric acid
• By the dehydrogenation of carvone (a terpenoid chemical naturally found in many essential oils) with a Pd/C
Some Uses Of Carvacrol
Because of its excellent anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, this substance has found many applications.
Here are some of the ways by which carvacrol is being used today.
1) It is used as alternative treatment for diseases like
• bacteremia or presence of bacteria in the blood
• cholecyctitis or inflammation of the gall bladder
• cholangitis or inflammation of the bile duct
• urinary tract infection
• common infection like pneumonia and neonatal meningitis
2) It is used as a food preservative in the food industry. Carvacrol is ideal for this application because of
its anti-microbial properties, its sweet aroma and subtle taste. It can significantly inhibit the growth of
bacteria that cause food spoilage. This compound can also be applied in vapor form to extend the foods’ shelf life
by destroying E. coli and Salmonella enteritidis.
3) It is used as an ingredient in making disinfectants. Disinfectants made of synthetic compounds oftentimes
cause undesirable effects on people and the environment. Carvacrol, together with other natural substances like
cymene, eugenol, thymol and cineol, is used in making biodegradable disinfectants. They are not harmful to
people or the environment. The microbial activity of carvacrol when used as a disinfectant was observed even
in as little as 0.07 percent.
4) It is used in the cosmetic industry. Carvacrol is used in this industry as an ingredient for making soaps,
facial creams, fragrances and perfumes. It is safe and non-irritating to the skin and can be used at a maximum
concentration of 0.5 % in personal care products and cosmetics.
5) It is used for aromatherapy. Carvacrol is used in this field for its analgesic, anti-bacterial and
Carvacrol Is Safe
This chemical compound, like other essential oils, is perfectly safe to use. It does not have long-term risks. Its
anti-microbial properties are only active against harmful pathogens. Since it is just a component of many essential
oils, there is no possibility of taking it in concentrated form.