Eco-Friendly Cotton Made with Plant Extracts and Essential Oils

Jenn Hoskins
15th April, 2024

Eco-Friendly Cotton Made with Plant Extracts and Essential Oils

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers developed a cotton fabric that resists microbes and aids healing
  • The fabric, treated with chitosan and natural agents, works against various bacteria
  • This eco-friendly cotton is biodegradable, reducing environmental impact
In the realm of healthcare, there's an ever-present battle against the spread of harmful microorganisms. Hospital-acquired infections and complications in wound healing are significant challenges, often exacerbated by the textiles used in medical settings. Researchers at Lodz University of Technology have taken a significant step towards addressing these issues by developing a new type of cotton fabric that's not only resistant to microbial growth but also environmentally friendly[1]. Cotton, a material commonly used in hospitals and sportswear, provides a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, posing risks to hygiene and health[2]. In medical applications such as wound dressings, it's crucial that the material in contact with the skin not only prevents microbial growth but also supports the healing process. Previous research has sought to enhance cotton's properties by incorporating various nanostructures[2]. Similarly, the use of chitosan, a biodegradable polymer known for its antimicrobial properties, has been explored, particularly in the form of chitosan-based membranes containing medicinal plant extracts[3]. These membranes showed promise as novel wound dressing materials due to their improved fluid sorption capacity and structural integrity[3]. Building on this foundation, the team at Lodz University of Technology has innovated by coating cotton fabrics with chitosan loaded with natural agents such as plant extracts and essential oils. This approach combines the antimicrobial benefits of chitosan with the healing properties of substances like aloe vera and the potent antimicrobial effects of cinnamon essential oil. The researchers employed a range of techniques to analyze the modified cotton fabrics. They used FTIR and XPS to study the chemical structure, UV-Vis spectrophotometry to assess coloration, optical microscopy and SEM for visualizing the surface, and TGA to evaluate thermal properties. These analyses confirmed that the new cotton fabric maintained its structural integrity while gaining new functional properties. One of the standout findings from this study is the effectiveness of the fabrics in inhibiting the growth of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. This broad-spectrum antibacterial activity is particularly noteworthy because it suggests the potential for these fabrics to be used in various medical contexts, from hospital bedding to wound dressings. The environmental impact of medical products is another concern that the researchers addressed. They conducted soil biodegradability tests and observed that the modified cotton fabrics underwent significant color and weight changes, indicating that they break down naturally over time. This biodegradability is a crucial aspect of the material's design, ensuring that the fabrics won't contribute to long-term waste issues. The study's findings are significant for the medical field, offering a new solution to the dual problems of infection control and environmental sustainability. By using a simple, eco-friendly process to modify cotton fabrics with chitosan and natural antimicrobial agents, the researchers have created a material that is both protective against microbes and conducive to healing, all while being biodegradable. Moreover, the research ties into and expands upon earlier studies that have explored the use of chitosan and plant extracts in medical textiles[2][3]. The current study leverages the inherent properties of chitosan, previously detailed as a versatile carrier for drug delivery and tissue regeneration due to its stability and biocompatibility[4]. It also takes advantage of the improved fluid sorption and antibacterial activity observed in chitosan-based membranes with plant extracts[3]. In conclusion, the work conducted by Lodz University of Technology represents a significant advancement in the development of functional textiles for healthcare. By harnessing the power of natural substances and chitosan, the team has created a cotton fabric that not only combats microbes but also aligns with the principles of sustainable healthcare. As the medical community continues to seek out better ways to protect patients and the planet, such innovations are a welcome addition to the arsenal against infection and environmental impact.

SustainabilityBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Bioactive and biodegradable cotton fabrics produced via synergic effect of plant extracts and essential oils in chitosan coating system.

Published 12th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Recent Advances on Antimicrobial and Anti-Inflammatory Cotton Fabrics Containing Nanostructures.

3) Chitosan Membranes Containing Plant Extracts: Preparation, Characterization and Antimicrobial Properties.

4) Biomedical Applications of Chitosan and Its Derivative Nanoparticles.

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