Herbal Disinfectant: The Safer Greener Cleaner
Our life is not detached from hygiene tools to make our household sparkle. The term ‘disinfection’ means the treatment of surfaces or equipment using chemicals to reduce microbial activity. The antimicrobial activity can be done using two types of disinfectants: chemical and herbal. Chemical disinfectants are the most popular ingredients because they are easy to find and effectively stop microbial activity. However, there are many contradictions about chemical disinfectants; several chemical disinfectants are hazardous and harmful to human health. Therefore, herbal disinfectants are introduced as a substitute and environment-friendly solutions.
Herbal Disinfectant as an Eco-friendly Solution
Nowadays, many innovations are required to bring environmental sustainability, especially in disinfectant production. Therefore, plant-based disinfectants were chosen as an alternative solution for household applications and showed that the efficacy of herbal disinfectants is responsible against the pathogen bacteria, i.e., Escherichia coli. For example, Lavender is an aromatic plant that contains plenty of bioactive compounds and can be used as antimicrobial, insecticidal, and antioxidant. The herbal disinfectant formulation may contain alcohol and bioactive compounds from herbs as the preparation agent for making herbal disinfectant. However, the contents of alcohol may cause irritation, dehydration, and allergic reactions if the compounds are exposed to the surface of human skin. So, the contents of alcohol should be reduced to minimize the risk of using herbal disinfectants.
Plants are known to possess various secondary metabolites with profound antimicrobial properties. Furthermore, plants or herbs have a limitless ability to produce aromatic substances to eradicate microbial activity. Most of them are phenols or oxygen substituted derivatives, of which many have been isolated, estimated to be less than 10% of the total. Simple phenols and phenolic acids are the simplest bioactive phytochemicals consisting of single substituted phenolic rings. These compounds are effective against viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Herbs synthesize flavones, flavonoids, and flavonols in response to microbial infection. These compounds have been found in vitro to be effective antimicrobial substances against a wide array of microorganisms. Some examples include 1) Tannins, with polymeric phenolic substances that have antimicrobial potential by direct inactivation of microorganisms, 2) Coumarins, a bioactive compound found in vitro to inhibit Candida albicans and several gram-positive bacteria, and 3) Terpenoids and essential oils which are used as fragrances.
Application of Herbs as the Antimicrobial Agent
Some formulations have been proved to be effective for mopping floor, tiles, and basins. Neem seed extract, a confirmed insect repellent, combined with soap nut or balanites have shown strong antimicrobial and antiviral activity. Harde mixed with vitex oil also represent antimicrobial and mosquito-repelling properties. Besides that, there are herbal ingredients powerful enough to disinfect oral utensils. In one study, neem, green tea, and garlic reduced bacteria population in tooth brushes by more than 80%. Garlic showed the highest reduction, by 96%, deeming it more effective than the “gold standard” chemical mouthwash, chlorhexidine. Herbal disinfectants can likewise help us in combating pandemic. For instance, guava leaves, German chamomile flowers, neem and tulsi are potential main constituent for hand sanitizer. Active component in guava leaves exhibit impermeable properties toward bacteria. German chamomile is even more effective than commercial hand sanitizer, and neem provides added values such as anticancer and prevention of skin disorders. These can be useful references for future anticipation as exposure to alcoholic sanitizers during COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in nausea, lethargy, respiratory disorders and even death in young children.
Future Prospect of Herbal Disinfectant Appearances
Chemical and herbal disinfectants are still competing fiercely in the market. Nevertheless, seeing a lot of adverse factors and risks from chemical disinfectants. Herbal disinfectants play an important role as cleaners and antiseptics. Herbal disinfectants are deemed as safer since they use less chemicals and are less expensive. Despite the good efficacy of herbal disinfectants, there are many disadvantages of using herbs as a disinfectant. A lot of them results in the modification of the chemical composition of processed plants so that they loss their valuable component and biological properties. Herbs may also be subject to secondary contamination during harvesting, transport, and drying. The next disadvantage of using herbs is some people are allergic to certain herbs. In this case, some clinical research should still be done to bring a good quality of the product.
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