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Carum copticum L.: A Herbal Medicine with Various Pharmacological Effects - Antimicrobial effects



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Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 569087.  Published online 2014 Jun 25. doi: 10.1155/2014/569087

PMCID: PMC4096002  PMID: 25089273

Carum copticum L.: A Herbal Medicine with Various Pharmacological Effects
Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, 1 ,* Saeed Alitaneh, 2 and Azam Alavinezhad 1

Carum copticum L. commonly known as “Ajwain” is cultivated in many regions of the world including Iran and India, states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Traditionally, C. copticum has been used in the past for various therapeutic effects including bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal tumors, abdominal pain, respiratory distress, and loss of appetite. It has other health benefits such as antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiparasitic, and hypolipidemic effects. This plant contains different important components such as carbohydrates, glucosides, saponins and phenolic compounds (carvacrol), volatile oils (thymol), terpiene, paracymene and beta-pinene, protein, fat, fiber, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, iron, and nicotinic acid (niacin). In the previous studies, several pharmacological effects were shown for C. copticum. Therefore, in this paper, the pharmacological effects of the plant were reviewed.


5.6. The Antimicrobial Effects

Essential oil from Iranian C. copticum including 72.3% thymol inhibited gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and viruses in which inhibition rate is associated with thymol content. High dose of thymol inhibits gram-positive more than gram-negative bacteria. It was shown that phenolic compounds interfere with cell membrane, change pH and ions homeostasis, and perhaps in this way act as antimicrobial agents. At all these studies the antimicrobial activity was examined by broth microdilution method [10, 12, 76, 77].

The effect of aqueous extract of C. copticum on several strains of bacteria showed antibacterial effect on

  • Enterococcus faecalis,
  • Staphylococcus aureus,
  • Escherichia coli,
  • P. aeruginosa,
  • S. typhimurium, and
  • Shigella flexneri [78].

The effect of C. copticum on fifty-five bacterial strains showed antimicrobial activity with minimum inhibitory concentration <2% (v/v) except Pseudomonas aeruginosa [79]. It was also shown that ether fraction of C. copticum had better antibacterial and antifungal activity against multidrug resistant (MDR) strains of

  • Candida albicans,
  • Candida krusei,
  • Candida tropicalis,
  • Candida glabrata,
  • Escherichia coli,

and reference strains of

  • Streptococcus mutans and
  • Streptococcus bovis

than other fractions [80].

Dysbiosis disease occurs due to microbial imbalance in intestinal flora as lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and coliform bacteria which are lower in fecal counts. In this disease, useful bacteria decreased and harmful bacteria increased in intestinal flora which leads to reduction in energy and body weight. It was shown that C. copticum can lead to reduction in pathogenic microorganisms such as Candida albicans, Clostridium spp.,and Bacteroides fragilis while having little effect on microflora and therefore could be effective in dysbiosis treatment [81].

The effect of C. copticum with thymol chemotype (when main component is thymol in contrast carvacrol chemotype) on bacterial strains (S. aureus, B. cereus, L. monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, and S. enteritidis) was also evaluated. Bacteria were cultured overnight at 37°C, and the essential oil of the plant and antimicrobial standards (chloramphenicol and ascorbic acid) were added. After incubation at 37°C for 22–24 h, the MIC (mg/mL) was calculated and the microorganism growth inhibition was assayed using an ELISA reader. The results of this study showed that the antimicrobial of C. copticum was more potent than B. persicum and C. cyminum [82].

The overall results of these studies showed that C. copticum essential oil is rich in monoterpene compounds and could be used as a natural antimicrobial agent in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Regarding ophthalmic disorders and cataract, it was claimed that the herbal ophthalmic drops (Ophthacare), which is a C. copticum extract product, treat infection, inflammation, and cataract in an experimental study [83].

C. copticum is also able to protect food against microbial invasion in vitro. These antimicrobial properties of C. copticum are due to its two ingredients, thymol and carvacrol [84]. Thymol has microbial killing property against common resistant microbial pathogens to multiple antibiotics drugs from the third generation. Therefore, it can be named as the fourth generation plant antibiotic [85].

Gilani et al. studied antibacterial effect of C. copticum by applying cream containing 5% essential oil of C. copticum to healing wound in rabbits in comparison with iodine tincture. Wound contraction on the 15th day in C. copticum group was 99.68%, compared with the healing effect of iodine tincture group, 100%, and nontreatment group, 96.57%, which indicates a wound healing effect of C. copticum [86].

In a study, bactericidal properties of C. copticum were shown on gram-negative Erwinia carotovora in vitro which is suggested to be due to its phenolic compounds such as thymol and carvacrol [87].


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