ISSN   0974-3618  (Print)        

            0974-360X (Online)





Antibacterial Effects of South Indian Spices on Oral Microbes


Umme Salma Durbar1 Geetha R.V.2

1II BDS Student, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai

Faculty, Department of Microbiology, Saveetha Dental College and Hospitals, Chennai.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Dental caries is a destructive process causing decalcification of the tooth enamel and leading to continued destruction of enamel and dentin, and cavitation of the tooth. Given the incidence of oral disease, increased resistance by bacteria to antibiotics, adverse affects of some antibacterial agents currently used in dentistry and financial considerations in developing countries, there is a need for alternative prevention and treatment options that are safe, effective and economical. This paper researches the anti bacterial properties of some South India spices and its role in inhibiting oral microbes. Clove has effective bactericidal properties and is used to inhibit gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Black pepper is known widely for its therapeutic uses. The antibacterial activity of these spices on Lacobacillus acidophilus, organism strongly associated with progression of dental caries was screened by disc diffusion method. The results obtained from our study shows that the two extracts have got a very good antibacterial activity against Lactobacillus acidophilus.


KEY WORDS: Antibacterial, oral microbes, spices, disc diffusion




Spices have been defined as a plant substance that is derived from indigenous or exotic origin, aromatic with strong taste which is used to enhance the taste of food (1) .They can be classified by their flavour and colour, i.e., hot (pepper), pungent (garlic), aromatic (clove), colouring (turmeric), and herbaceous (rosemary) or according to their taste such as sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and astringent. (2)


Since ancient times people use spices for preventing pathogenic disease and food preservatives. It has been reported that spices owe their anti microbial properties mostly to the presence of alkaloids, phenols, glycosides, steroids, essential oils, coumarins and tannins.(3) Each spice has a unique aroma and flavour. They are widely used for their antibacterial effects against various bacteria. Use of spices reduces or inhibits the growth of micro organism before they produce any toxin. (4)




Received on 11.05.2015             Modified on 12.06.2015

Accepted on 23.07.2015           © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 8(8): August, 2015; Page 1135-1136

DOI: 10.5958/0974-360X.2015.00201.2


Black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) is a flowering vine of Piperaceae family that is cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as spice and seasoning. It is a native of South India and known as King of Spices (5). Pepper gets its spicy heat mostly from the piperine compound which is found both in the outer fruit and in seed. Piperine is the major chemical constituent responsible for antimicrobial activity. Various pharmacological activities such as antimicrobial, analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, CNS depressant, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiinsecticidal, synergistic have been reported(6).


Syzygium aromaticum (cloves) are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree belonging to the family Mytraceae. Cloves have high mineral content like manganese, calcium, potassium, vitamins. Clove is proved to have antiseptic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral, spasmolytic, local anaesthetic, anti stress, anti inflammatory, anti pyretic activities(7). The antibacterial component of clove is eugenol. The phenolic compound present in clove can denature proteins and react with cell membrane phospholipids and inhibits a great number of gram positive and negative bacteria as well as various types of yeast (8).

Dental caries and periodontitis are common oral diseases caused by bacterial infection and the development of dental plaque. Dental plaque is an example of a microbial biofilm with a diverse microbial composition; it is found naturally on teeth. In individuals with a high frequency sugar diet, or with a severely compromised saliva flow, the levels of potentially cariogenic bacteria (acid-producing and acid-tolerating species) can increase beyond those compatible with enamel health. 


Lactobacillus is a genus of Gram positive facultative anaerobic or microaerophilic rod-shaped bacteria Lactobacilli characteristically cause existing carious lesions to progress, especially those in coronal caries. Dental caries is steadily increasing in the underdeveloped and developing countries. Treatment is expensive and not a realistic option for the poor. Hence, there  is an urgent need to promote traditional preventive measures that are acceptable, easily available, and cost-effective. In this study, the antimicrobial activities of clove and pepper against oral bacteria were investigated.



Test microorganisms

The bacterial strain used was Lactobacillus. The organism was isolated using selective media Mutans -Sanguis agar [Hi media M641] and maintained in nutrient agar slope at 4°C in the department of Microbiology,  Saveetha Dental College.



The extracts namely clove and pepper were loaded on sterile filter paper discs measuring 6mm diameter in the following concentrations 250µl, 500µl and 1000 µl respectively. The discs were dried and kept aseptically.


Screening of antibacterial activity [Disc diffusion method]

Broth culture of the bacterial strain compared to 0.5  Mac Farland’s standard(9,10,11) was prepared. Lawn culture of the test organisms were made on the Muller Hinton agar [MHA-Hi media M1084] plates using sterile cotton swab and the plates were dried for 15 minutes. Filter paper discs loaded with different concentrations of the essential oils were placed on the respective plates. The plates were incubated at 37°C overnight and the zone of inhibition of growth was measured in millimeters. All the tests were done in triplicate to minimize the test error.



The antibacterial activity of the extracts at different concentrations was screened by disc diffusion method and the zone of inhibition was measured in mm diameter. The clove extract was more effective against Lactobacillus with a zone of inhibition of 25mm diameter (at1000 µl) and pepper extract showed a zone of 15mm. Dental caries is one of the major cause for the destruction of mineralized tissue of the teeth. Lactobacilli have been associated with the presence and progression of dental caries. The present study was to evaluate the antibacterial activity of clove and pepper on caries causing organisms. The results obtained from our study shows that the two extracts have got a very good antibacterial activity against Lactobacillus acidophilus.


Table 1 : Antibacterial activity of clove and pepper  on Lactobacillus acidophilus


Zone of inhibition

In mm diameter


















There  has  been  a constant increase in the search of alternative  and  efficient  compounds  for a partial  or  total  replacement  of  antimicrobial chemical agents.  Spices offer a promising alternative. Inhibitory  activity  of  spices on  the  growth of  bacteria and microbial toxins synthesis  has  been  well  reported. The present results therefore offer a scientific basis for traditional use of clove and pepper on oral pathogens.



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