Thymol nanospheres as an effective anti-bacterial agent.
ABSTRACT Among thymol, carvacrol, citronellal, eugenol and terpinen-4-ol, thymol showed the highest antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Thymol was then encapsulated into water dispersible submicron sized ethylcellulose/methylcellulose spheres, attaining the relatively high thymol loading level of 43.53% (weight of encapsulated thymol to weight of the thymol-loaded spheres). When tested against the same three bacterial strains, the encapsulated thymol gave comparable minimal inhibition concentration (MIC) and minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC) values to the unencapsulated compound while mostly showing lower MIC and MBC values than the conventionally used preservative, methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate (methylparaben). The use of encapsulated thymol at 0.078, 0.156 and 0.625 mg ml(-1) (0.52, 1.04 and 4.16 mmol(-1), respectively) in cosmetic lotion formulations provided total suppression of viable E. coli, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa growth (all initially seeded at 10(5) cfu ml(-1)), respectively, over the three month test period, whereas unencapsulated thymol showed effective suppression for only 2-4 weeks. Effective bacterial suppression by encapsulated thymol was also observed when used in cream and aqueous gel cosmetic formulations.