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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 426: International Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

BIOACTIVITY OF NEW ZEALAND MEDICINAL PLANT ESSENTIAL OILS

Authors:   M. Lis-Balchin, S. Deans, S. Hart
Keywords:   New Zealand plants, essential oils, volatile oils, pharmacological activity, antibacterial activity, antifungal activity, chemical composition
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.1996.426.1
Abstract:
In view of the folk-medicinal usage of many New Zealand plants, the bioactivity of a number of commercial essential oils produced from local plants was studied in vitro against 25 different bacterial species, 20 different strains of Listeria monocytogenes and 3 filamentous fungi; the anti-oxidant activity was also determined as well as the pharmacological action on guinea-pig ileum.

The family Myrtaceae was represented by samples of steam-distilled wood of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium J.R.et G.Forst) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides (A.Rich.) J. Thompson) and Leptospermum petersonii Bailey syn. L. citratum from high altitude sites of South Island and the east coast of North Island had different but usually good antibacterial activity with poor antifungal action except for L. citraturn, and variable antioxidant action; strong spasmogenic activity was shown by Kanuka, in contrast to a spasmolytic action of Manuka and L. petersonii. Other oils studied included New Zealand grown Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel), Totara (Podocarpus totara G. Benn. ex D. Don, Coniferae), which showed good and poor bioactivity respectively, and two species of Eucalyptus which showed variable results. The bioactivity of all these essential oils was compared against that of common herbs, grown locally.

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