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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Molecular Biology of Human Pathogens Associated with Food

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: The chemistry and beneficial bioactivities of carvacrol (4-isopropyl-2-methylphenol), a component of essential oils produced by aromatic plants and spices

Author
item Friedman, Mendel

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 16, 2014
Publication Date: July 24, 2014
Citation: Friedman, M. 2014. The chemistry and beneficial bioactivities of carvacrol (4-isopropyl-2-methylphenol), a component of essential oils produced by aromatic plants and spices. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. DOI: 10.1021/jf5023862.

Interpretive Summary: Aromatic plants and spices produce organic compounds that may be involved in the defense of plants against phytopathogenic insects, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One of these compounds, a phenolic terpene called carvacrol, that is found in high concentrations in plant essential oils such as oregano has been reported to exhibit numerous beneficial bioactivities. Because carvacrol exhibits strong antioxidative as well as both hydrophobic properties associated with the substituted aromatic ring, hydrophilic properties associated with the phenolic OH group as well anti-inflammatory and cell-disruptive properties, numerous studies report on its health-promoting potential. This integrated overview surveys and interprets our present knowledge of the biosynthesis, chemistry, analysis, antioxidative properties, inhibition of foodborne and human antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and insects in vitro and in human foods (apple juice, eggs, leafy greens, meat and poultry products, milk, oysters) and animal feeds. Also covered are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiarthritic, antiallergic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects as well as metabolic, synergistic, and mechanistic aspects. Areas for future research are suggested. The collated information and suggested research might contribute to a better understanding of agronomical, chemical, physiological, and cellular bases of the described health-promoting effects and facilitate and guide further studies needed to optimize the use of carvacrol in pure and encapsulate forms, in edible antimicrobial films, and in combinations with plant-derived and medical antibiotics to help prevent or treat animal and human diseases. Because carvacrol has the potential to serve as a multifunctional food ingredient, the widest possible interaction of viewpoints and expertise is needed to facilitate progress. We hope and expect everyone to profit from a broader overview.

Technical Abstract: Aromatic plants produce organic compounds that may be involved in the defense of plants against phytopathogenic insects, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One of these compounds called carvacrol that is found in high concentrations in essential oils such as oregano has been reported to exhibit numerous bioactivities in cells and animals. This integrated overview surveys and interprets our present knowledge of the chemistry, analysis, and antioxidative properties, inhibition of foodborne and human antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi as pathogenic parasites and insects in vitro and in human foods (apple juice, eggs, leafy greens, meat and poultry products, milk, oysters) and animal feeds. Also covered are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiarthritic, antiallergic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective properties as well as metabolic, synergistic, and mechanistic aspects. Areas for future research are also suggested. The collated information and suggested research might contribute to a better understanding of agronomical, biosynthetic, chemical, physiological, and cellular bases of the described health-promoting effects and facilitate and guide further studies needed to optimize the use of carvacrol as a multifunctional food in pure and encapsulated forms, in edible antimicrobial films, and in combinations with plant-derived and medical antibiotics to help prevent or treat animal and human diseases.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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