Carvacrol

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Synonym(s)

2-methyl-5-(1-methylethyl)-phenol; CAS number: 499-74-2

Definition
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Carvacrol is a naturally occurring phenolic monoterpene isomeric with carvone and thymol. Carvacrol is a colourless or slightly brownish liquid insoluble in water, readily soluble in ethanol and ether, with a typical smell of thyme.

Occurrence
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Carvacrol is found in numerous essential oils (thyme, oregano, savory, catnip, goosefoot, Greek mountain tea). These can contain up to 85% carvacrol.

Spectrum of action
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Carvacrol, like thyme, has many uses, mainly as a biocide. It shows antimycotic, insecticidal, antibiotic and anthelmintic effects. Carvacrol also inhibits the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 and thus has anti-inflammatory effects.

Note(s)
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The bactericidal and fungicidal properties of carvacrol were already known in ancient Egypt; it was used together with other substances to embalm the dead.

Literature
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  1. Baser KH (2008) Biological and pharmacological activities of carvacrol and Carvacrol bearing essential oils. Curr Pharm Des 14:3106-3119.
  2. Friedman M (2014) Chemistry and multibeneficial bioactivities of Carvacrol (4-isopropyl-2-methylphenol), a component of essential oils produced by aromatic plants and spices. J Agric Food Chem 62:7652-7670.
  3. Nostro A et al (2012) Antimicrobial activity of carvacrol: current progress and future prospects. Recent Patent Antiinfect Drug Discov 7:28 35.
  4. Suntres ZE et al. (2015) The bioactivity and toxicological actions of carvacrol. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 55:304-318.