Rosemary and pepper product can fight superfungi

Essential oil extracted from rosemary-pimenta, a plant abundant in the Northeast, has been shown to be effective in controlling the new superfungus (Candida auris).

The confirmation comes from promising results, recently published by the journal Pharmaceutics, of studies carried out in laboratories of Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP) of USP.

supermushroom. Photo: Reproduction.

News of the substance’s strong antimicrobial activity comes at a time when the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) has just reported the appearance of the third outbreak of candida auris in Brazil.

The species is considered a superfungus because it is multi-resistant to commercial antifungals, easily transmissible and responsible for nosocomial infections. It causes high fever, dizziness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and sepsis and can be fatal. It has been identified in almost 50 countries on five continents, in Brazil, which has 18 confirmed cases, it was first detected in December 2020.

To combat this super fungus, the FCFRP teams, coordinated by Professors Wanderley Oliveira and Marcia Regina, bet on the essential oil of Lippia sidoid, Scientific name for rosemary-pimenta.

The substance has been the subject of research by Professor Oliveira since 2007, when tests began on the bactericidal and fungicidal potential of the essential oil of Lippia sidoides.

In front of the R&D Laboratory in Pharmaceutical Processes (LAPROFAR) of the FCFRP, Oliveira and his team already hold two patents for the encapsulation of this essential oil, which serve as antimicrobials for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

Now to face candida auris, Professor Oliveira and researcher and doctoral student Iara Baldim used nanotechnology and developed a new product. A nanolayer (molecular scale) made “based on lipid systems” that surrounds the essential oil.

The technology, he claims, maximizes the potential utilization of the rosemary-pepper active ingredient, decreasing toxicity and increasing both stability and antimicrobial activity. They also state that the tests carried out found the ideal level of concentration of the active substance effective against the fungus without presenting toxic risks to the human body. The evaluation of the antimicrobial activity and toxicity of the new product was entrusted to the laboratory of Professor Márcia and the researchers Mario Paziani and Patrícia Barião.

Encapsulation makes the product viable

Rosemary-pimenta is a plant used in folk medicine as an antimicrobial and antifungal. Despite its beneficial properties, peppermint and rosemary essential oil can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions that are prevented by encapsulation. In addition to this, another advantage of the system created by Laprofar is the increased effectiveness of the product since the essential oil is volatile and loses its original characteristics when exposed to environmental factors such as heat, oxygen and solar radiation.

Effective against many microorganisms

To understand how the essential oil works, several tests have been carried out, mapping its general mechanism of action and, in particular, against the superfungus. Although studies have not fully elucidated these mechanisms, Oliveira says the results so far ensure that rosemary-pimenta essential oil is multi-component and can act in different ways at the same time, inhibiting the growth of the fungus and other bacteria. by various mechanisms.


The next steps should turn rosemary pepper essential oil into therapy, as “the systems produced have been shown to be effective in controlling drug-resistant pathogens,” says Oliveira.

Studies on the behavior of the product in the gastrointestinal system (for oral administration) and transdermal permeation (topical route) are initial targets for the use of the product as a drug. There is also the possibility of combining the product with traditional medicines, thus helping to minimize the resistance of the fungus.

The researcher also informs that several researches are in progress to “evaluate the possible synergistic behaviors between nanoparticles and traditional medicines in eliminating the resistance of resistant microorganisms”, thus developing new forms of treatment for nosocomial infections, such as this is the case of candida auris.

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