Planta Med 2022; 88(08): 587-603
DOI: 10.1055/a-1382-2898
Biological and Pharmacological Activity

Antiviral and Virucidal Properties of Essential Oils and Isolated Compounds – A Scientific Approach

Jürgen Reichling
Formerly Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
› Author Affiliations


Essential oils and isolated essential oil compounds are known to exert various pharmacological effects, such as antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and wound healing effects. Based on selected articles, this review deals with the potential antiviral and virucidal activities of essential oils and essential oil compounds together with their mechanism of action as well as in silico studies involving viral and host cell-specific target molecules that are indispensable for virus cell adsorption, penetration, and replication. The reported in vitro and in vivo studies highlight the baseline data about the latest findings of essential oils and essential oil compounds antiviral and virucidal effects on enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, taking into account available biochemical and molecular biological tests. The results of many in vitro studies revealed that several essential oils and essential oil compounds from different medicinal and aromatic plants are potent antiviral and virucidal agents that inhibit viral progeny by blocking different steps of the viral infection/replication cycle of DNA and RNA viruses in various host cell lines. Studies in mice infected with viruses causing respiratory diseases showed that different essential oils and essential oil compounds were able to prolong the life of infected animals, reduce virus titers in brain and lung tissues, and significantly inhibit the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. In addition, some in vitro studies on hydrophilic nano-delivery systems encapsulating essential oils/essential oil compounds exhibited a promising way to improve the chemical stability and enhance the water solubility, bioavailabilty, and antiviral efficacy of essential oils and essential oil compounds.

Supporting Information

Publication History

Received: 26 January 2021

Accepted after revision: 04 May 2021

Article published online:
18 June 2021

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