Myrtle (Myrtus communis L.) oils

Sirajudheen Anwar, Nafees Ahmed, Nasir Al Awwad, Shabana Y. Ansari, Mohamed E. Wagih

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the movement to decrease the use of chemical food preservatives, the most promising currently available alternatives are essential oil-based food preservatives. Aromatic plants produce volatile compounds contained in essential oils. These nonnutritional molecules exert a wide range of effects, including antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant effects. Their high biodegradability, medicinal importance, and low toxicity to mammals give essential oils important advantages compared with chemical preservatives. Myrtus communis is an aromatic evergreen perennial shrub or small tree, with small foliage and deep fissured bark. It is native to Southern Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. It is distributed in South America, North western Himalaya, and Australia and widespread in the Mediterranean region. Myrtus species have been reported as very rich in volatile oils, phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanin pigments, and fatty acids. Myrtle essential oil compounds classified into three main categories: terpenes (monoterpene and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons), terpenoids (oxygenated monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes), and phenylpropanoids. The antibacterial properties of myrtle essential oils and extracts against pathogenic bacteria were reported in many studies and obtained results are promising. The myrtle antifungal effect may also be attributed to essential oil and phenolic compounds that are known to cause cell membrane damage, causing leakage of cellular materials and ultimately the death of the microorganism. Several reports describe the antioxidant activities of different extracts and compounds obtained from myrtle leaves and other parts. In this chapter, various qualities of myrtle extracts and essential oils, such as antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties with respect to food, are summarized. These properties are attributed to the chemical constituents of the essential oil and extracts. The scientific information in this chapter is interpolated and correlated for the possibility of using myrtle essential oil in food preservation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEssential Oils in Food Preservation, Flavor and Safety
EditorsVictor R. Preedy
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780124166448
ISBN (Print)9780124166417
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Antifungal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Essential oil
  • Food preservative
  • Myrtle
  • Myrtus communis

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