Antimicrobial Efficacy of Essential Oils & How to Use Them

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from plants, commonly through steam distillation or cold pressed methods. An essential oil from one plant may contain anywhere from a dozen to several hundred individual compounds. Even trace amounts of these components are important pieces of what makes each oil unique.

History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used across the world for centuries. Ancient Egypt is commonly referred to as the birthplace of essential oils, where these plant extracts were used for cosmetic and medical purposes as early as 4500 BC. Aromatherapeutic uses of essential oils in traditional Chinese medicine date back to the period between 3000 and 2000 BC. 

Efficacy of Essential Oils

Just about every essential oil has antimicrobial properties and have been scientifically proven to demonstrate anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral activity. In fact, essential oils have even been efficient in fighting drug resistant strains which conventional antibiotics have failed to treat! 

In fungal pathogens, essential oils are able to cross the cell wall and disrupt ATP assembly. In bacterial infections, essential oils destabilize and help break down the membrane integrity. Essential oils have antiviral activity against RNA and DNA viruses, such as herpes (types 1 and 2), dengue virus, influenza (the flu), poliovirus, and coxsackievirus (hand, foot, and mouth disease). 

Lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and orange oils were tested against 22 bacteria, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative– they were effective against all 22 bacterial strains.

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Oregano, thyme, clove, lavender, clary sage, and arborvitae were effective against the bactiera Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Yersinia enterocolitica, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Enterococcus faecalis, Bacillus cereus, Arthrobacter protophormiae, Pseudomonas fragi, and fungi Chaetomium globosum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Cladosporium cladosporoides, Alternaria alternata, and Aspergillus fumigatus.

How to use Essential Oils


  • Neat: Before using an essential oil, be sure to check if it needs to be diluted. Some oils can be used neat (undiluted), while others are very strong and need to be cut with a ‘carrier oil’ to dilute the oil. If your oil can be used neat, one or two drops is enough to do the trick! Examples of when you may use an oil neat: zits, blemishes, cuts, scars, burns, mosquito bite, or even as a perfume!
  • Topically: For nicks and cuts, using an antibacterial essential oil can help cleanse the wound and prevent infection.
    • Antiseptic oils include:
      • Tea tree: A very powerful oil, tea tree can establish a very strong barrier to prevent bacterial and viral invaders from entering the bloodstream.
      • Myrrh: Myrrh was used by Greek soldiers in the battlefield to disinfect wounds and stop bleeding!
      • Lavender: Lavender is a more gentle oil which is great for kids, and can be used neat (no dilution). In addition to disinfecting the wound, it is a very soothing oil which can also soothe pain, burning, or stinging sensations.
  • Diluted: Carrier oil options for your diluted oils include:
      • Olive oil
      • Coconut oil, or fractionated coconut oil
      • Jojoba oil
      • Cacao butter
      • Rosehip oil
      • Red raspberry seed oil
    • You may also use vodka or vinegar for a spray (perfume or household cleaner). Aloe vera is a great carrier for lavender to use on burns and bites!
  • Steaming: Inhaling oils can clear the lungs and invigorate the body. I like to diffuse calming oils at night and stimulating oils during the day while I work.
    • Shower: Try dropping 2-3 drops in the shower and allowing the hot water to create an intoxicating steam!
    • Diffuser: A mist diffuser uses cold water to disperse the oil for a few hours.
    • Stove: You can even add a few drops to a pot of water and allow it to simmer on the stovetop.
    • Fabric: Try dropping a relaxing oil on your pillow to help you drift off into dreamland.


With the overuse of antibiotics leading to a rise in drug resistant strains of bacteria, essential oils offer a natural and effective treatment. Essential oils should be considered as an effective cleaning agent in household cleaners, and as a holistic treatment for fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.

Click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor and start feeling better today!


Food Allergies and Joint Pain

Food Allergies and Joint Pain

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Food allergies and intolerances are common culprits of inflammation, which is considered to be the root of modern diseases. The body can be allergic to any food, therefore any food is capable of causing inflammation, potentially leading to joint pain and arthritis.

Most doctors who are specialized in treating arthritis and many other joint issues tend to rely on medications that only address symptoms of the conditions and totally ignore the underlying cause. Many patients who go to a rheumatologist for joint pain are prescribed medications that may provide temporary relief, but have a dangerous side effects in the long term.

In the last five years of seeing patients with joint pain, I have found that many patients respond positively to simple nutritional and dietary changes.  By removing inflammatory foods that aggravate the immune system, my patients’ joints see great improvements thanks to these dietary changes alone.

Medications do nothing more than mask the symptoms of pain, all the while aggravating other issues, such as gastrointestinal and liver problems.  These medications also cause mineral deficiencies (folic acid, vitamin C, and other nutrients) which continues to worsen the problem the drugs were originally prescribed for.  Proper nutrient levels are very important for helping joints, ligaments, and tendons to heal properly.

While you’re on a medication in hopes of it fixing your joint pain, you are actually setting yourself up for more long-term severe joint pain in the future.  Addressing the underlying cause (the source of your inflammation) is the best way to solve the problem- for good.

The vicious cycle in summary:

The vicious cycle in summary

Click here for help determining the cause of your joint pain.

Autoimmunity is an underpinning:


Rheumatoid arthritis

Ankylosing spondylitis


Spondylitic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis

reactive arthritis



Common inflammatory foods:

All grains, including: wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice, millet, sorghum, etc.


Night shades (potato, eggplant, tomato, peppers, tobacco).


Legumes (peanuts, soy, beans)

Anti-inflammatory foods:

Wild-caught fish and/or fish oil

Grass-fed Meat

Coconut oil

Lower glycemic fruits, such as berries

Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and asparagus

Herbs such as turmeric, garlic, and ginger

Green tea

Experiencing Joint Pain? Click here to ask a functional medicine doctor about it.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, and Ketosis

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Most people aren’t aware of the benefits of coconut oil, MCT oil, and ketosis. Coconut oil is a fat that has been really popular over the last five or ten years. It is a saturated fat, which means it essentially has a very stable temperature, allowing you to cook it at higher temperatures and not rancidify the fat. Healthy saturated fats are really important for optimal health.

The Chemistry behind Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is nothing more than open carbon (C) atoms linked, or bonded, together. Each open carbon atom can take on four bonds, and when all four bonds are in place, the bond is saturated. By comparison, in monounsaturated fat, one (mono) of those bonds is a double bond. And in polyunsaturated fat, more than one (poly) of those bonds are double bonds.

The Chemistry behind Coconut and MCT Oil

Carbon chains consisting of six (C6), eight (C8), ten (C10), or twelve (C12) carbon atoms are known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT). The majority of the fat in coconut oil consists of the following MCTs:

  • Caproic fatty acids (C6)
  • Caprylic fatty acids (C8)
  • Capric fatty acids (C10)
  • Lauric fatty acids (C12)

Whereas coconut oil contains all four MCTs, or fatty acids, MCT oil is primarily made of caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) acids, so the carbon chain is eight or ten carbons long.

Benefits of MCT Oil

 The benefit of using MCT oil over regular coconut oil is that we get seven to eight times more concentration of the C6 and C8 or C8 and C10 fats. The health benefits to adding MCT oil to your Bulletproof coffee or your tea, for example, include a nice boost to your metabolism and brain function.

coconut oil

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an abundant source of lauric acid (C12) and has many health benefits including ketosis, decreased cravings, boosted immune functions, weight loss, and enhanced brain health.


A lot of those fatty acids, those medium chain triglycerides, convert into ketones through a process called ketosis.

Ketones are breakdowns of the fat that our body can use for fuel and energy, especially parts of our brain that have been damaged because of a metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. This will keep the brain from being able to utilize glucose for fuel, but a lot of times the brain can refuel using ketones and light right back up.

If you want to learn more about ketones, so a search for Dr. Veech of Harvard University. Jimmy Moore’s book Keto Clarity will give you more information on ketosis.

It’s important to understand the difference between ketosis and keto-acidosis.

Keto-acidosis has to do with disease pathology, such as liver cirrhosis or type 1 diabetes.

When we go into ketosis, it’s not because of starvation. It’s nutritional ketosis, which is having an adequate amount of calories but keeping sugar low. It’s actually a normal bodily function, and there are a lot of health benefits in ketosis.

Click here if you need help determining if ketosis is right for you.

Decreased Cravings

The nice thing about ketones is they assist appetite regulation in the brain, telling you when you’re full. This decreases cravings. When we burn fat for fuel (ketosis), it helps our body understand when its hungry and when its not. So burning fat for fuel is incredibly satiating.

Boosted Immune Function

Lauric acid, the 12-carbon fat in coconut oil, has a lot of immune-boosting qualities. This is actually the primary fat that’s in mother’s breast milk that really helps support the child’s immune system and acts as an antibacterial.

In some of my antiviral programs I put together for patients, I use a product called monolaurin. An awesome benefit of monolaurin is it helps destroy viruses.

How do viruses work?

Viruses are nanoparticles—tiny compared to bacteria. Imagine the tiny virus particle wearing a cloak. This cloak keeps it covered so the immune system can’t see it. Since it can’t see it, it can’t attack.

A super high dose of monolaurin, lauric acid extract, uncloaks the virus so the immune system can see it and then attack and destroy it. That’s one of the really awesome benefits of using coconut oil supplements, which are rich in lauric acid. They can really knock out viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, or even herpes.

Weight Loss

The Journal of Lipid Research published a study on weight loss comparing coconut and soybean oils. Two groups of women over 40 were tested for 40 days. One group was given soybean oil and the other was given coconut oil. They saw better weight loss in the coconut oil group. They also saw an improvement in LDL and HDL numbers in the coconut oil group.

Soybean oil is an omega-6 monounsaturated fat that feeds proinflammatory pathways. Coconut oil is more anti-inflammatory in nature because of those C6 to C12 medium chain fatty acids, and that’s the weight-loss benefit of it.

In another group, they looked at long chain fatty acids, fats over eighteen carbons long. They compared them to coconut oil, and they saw a significant benefit—a 60% reduction—in the group that lost the most weight: the coconut oil group. That study was in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Enhanced Brain Health

Like I mentioned above, a lot of people have metabolic issues and are not able to light up parts of the brain that can no longer use glucose for fuel. If you have adrenal fatigue, you may want to be careful about relying on ketones fully because typically ketosis and gluconeogenesis work together and gluconeogenesis is cortisol dependent.


Coconut and MCT oils can help achieve ketosis, and a lot of people do well with ketosis. But if you’re doing a lot of exercise or physical work, you may need more carbohydrates. If you have adrenal or thyroid issues, this is kind of a controversial topic, and we should test and see how you respond to ketosis-supporting measures.

Remember, everyone’s a little different. I do well on a cyclical ketogenic, going very low carb throughout the day with a little more of my carbs at night. You have to find what works for you and test it out on a ketone meter; or using your blood sugar meter results pre and post-meal as a gauge. Check out below for a good starting point.

Blood Sugar Testing Range

Fasting: 100 mg/dl

1 hour post meal: <140 mg/dl

2 hour post meal <120 mg/dl

3 hour post meal <100 mg/dl

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The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.