The effort takes the form of an MOU between the two companies to pair Fruit d’Or’s cranberry seed oil ingredient with Hydromer’s natural carvacrol oil technology. Cranberry seed oil (Fruit d’Or claims to be the first to bring an organic form of this to market) has both antioxidant properties and an attractive fatty acid profile, according to Stephen Lukawski, principal of RSSI Inc. who partners on product development with Quebec-based Fruit d’Or.
The oil already has been approved by Health Canada with a therapeutic claim for the benefits of its omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids, he said.
“We knew from previous research that our organic Cran Naturelle Oil is a powerful antimicrobial as well as antioxidant. We were eager to learn what would happen when it was combined with carvacrol technology,” Lukawski told NutraIngredients-USA.
Ingredient found in some essential oils
Carvacrol is a phenolic monoterpiniod compound found in some essential oils, including those of oregano, thyme, marjoram and bergamot and other plants. The base molecule has high antioxidant activity and has been shown to have antimicrobial activity as well.
“We are in the business of developing antimicrobial coatings and other technologies,” said Erik Becktel, product manager of personal care with Hydromer, which is based in Branchburg, NJ. “We stumbled on a new, greener technology that uses carvacrol. We combine that with soy lecithin, a surfactant, and we found we could get some really good antimicrobial properties, so we patented it.”
What was a surprise, however, was the synergistic effect of the carvacrol ingredient when paired with Fruit d’Or’s oil, Becktel said. Tests conducted with a variety of common pathogens including S. aureus, pathogenic E. coli as well as Pseudomonas, a UTI-causing bacteria that is particularly resistant to other antibacterial products, were a revelation, he said.
“After receiving samples of organic Cran Naturelle Oil for testing in combination with our carvacrol technology, we determined that organic Cran Naturelle Oil significantly increased the microbial kill rate to 100%,” Becktel said.
Lukawski said the combined oils could be used as a green hand sanitizer, and could also potentially be used in foot care. It would have the added benefit that the antimicrobial film persists for a time after application, whereas alcohol-based sanitizers vaporize quickly. And the cranberry seed oil’s fatty acids could have a skin health benefit.
Interest ramping up
Though the properties of some of these essential oils have been known in general form since antiquity, high interest in carvacrol itself appears to be brand new. More than 60 studies mentioning the molecule itself or in relation to its base oils have been published already in 2018, with relatively few citations prior to that.
Many of these studies explore carvacrol’s antimicrobial activity in various settings, while some even look at its insecticidal potential.
But several of these recent studies have opened some intriguing health benefit pathways for carvacrol. The ingredient has been used as a feed additive to boost the antioxidant status of chickens. And other studies have looked at its role in respiratory health and in neuroprotection.
A review published just last week in Phytotherapy Research said the ingredient’s toxicological profile is “becoming definite” and said that the molecule has “interesting properties.” But the researchers said that more human trials are needed to pin down the ingredient’s potential health benefits.
Even with more research called for, the positive trend adds up to greater potential for the carvacrol/cranberry pairing than as a mere topical, Becktel said. And it could help Hydromer, which has had mostly an industrial and medical orientation up to now, move into new markets, he said.
“Oregano oil has been used in gut health for centuries. And we know that cranberry seed oil is a strong antioxidant. This is why this combination of our two companies is important for us,” Becktel said.