Minimum inhibitory percentages (MIPs) of the volatile oils distilled from five plants
widely used in African traditional healing; Artemisia afra (A oil), Lippia javanica (LJ oil), Lippia scaberrima (LS oil), Myrothamnus flabellifolius (M oil) and Osmitopsis asteriscoides (O oil) were determined against three strains of Staphylococcus aureus (two of which were methicillin-resistant), one strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two strains of Candida albicans, and one strain of Cryptococcus neoformans. M. flabellifolius essential oil was also tested against an additional strain of S. aureus, two more strains of P. aeruginosa, and two strains of C. glabrata. MIPs were determined using standard microdilution methods. All isolates were inhibited by < 1% of the oils with the exceptions of A and O oils against S. aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus, and LS, A, O and LJ oils against P. aeruginosa. Only the M oil exhibited measurable activity against P. aeruginosa. The M oil was the most active of the agents tested. Results show that the essential oil derived from M. flabellifolius exerts antimicrobial activity against a variety of microorganisms and that further study of the chemical constituents of this oil to ascertain the biologically active component is warranted.