Background: Essential oils are liquid extracts from aromatic plants, which have numerous applications in multiple industries. There are a variety of methods used for the extraction of essential oils, with each method exhibiting certain advantages and determining the biological and physicochemical properties of the extracted oils. Essential oils from different plant species contain more than 200 constituents which are comprised of volatile and non-volatile components. The application of essential oils as antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral agents is due to their effective and efficient properties, inter alia.
Method: Several advanced (supercritical fluid extraction, subcritical extraction liquid, solvent-free microwave extraction) and conventional (hydrodistillation, steam distillation, hydrodiffusion, solvent extraction) methods have been discussed for the extraction of essential oils. Advanced methods are considered as the most promising extraction techniques due to less extraction time, low energy consumption, low solvent used and less carbon dioxide emission.
Conclusion: This manuscript reviewed the major research studies in the field and discussed several research findings on the chemical composition of essential oils, methods of oil extraction, and application of these oils in pharmaceutical and therapeutic fields. These essential oils can be used as anticancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, and as skin permeation enhancer agents.