Identification of essential oils including garlic oil and black pepper oil with high activity against Babesia duncani

Yumin Zhang, Chunxiang Bai, Wanliang Shi, Hector Alvarez Manzo, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Some evidence indicated that human babesiosis caused by Babesia duncani has spread widely in North America. However, current therapeutic regimens (atovaquone + azithromycin) for human babesiosis are suboptimal with frequent recrudescence and side effects, and furthermore, there is no specific treatment for human babesiosis caused by B. duncani. Here, we screened 97 essential oils and identified 10 essential oils (garlic, black pepper, tarragon, palo santo, coconut, pine, meditation, cajeput, moringa, and stress relief) at a low concentration (0.001%; v/v) that showed good inhibitory activity against B. duncani in the hamster red blood cell culture model. Among them, garlic oil and black pepper oil performed best, as well as their potential active ingredients diallyl disulfide (DADS) and β-caryophyllene (BCP), respectively. Interestingly, further subculture study indicated that B. duncani could relapse after treatment with current therapeutic drugs atovaquone or azithromycin even at high concentrations. In contrast, the combination of garlic oil or DADS and azithromycin showed eradication of B. duncani at low concentrations without regrowth. These results are encouraging and suggest that the garlic-derived sulfur compound DADS and β-caryophyllene (BCP) may be promising drug candidates for evaluation of their ability to cure persistent B. duncani infections in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number466
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Babesia duncani
  • Black pepper oil
  • Diallyl disulfide (DADS)
  • Essential oil screen
  • Garlic oil
  • β-caryophyllene (BCP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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