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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clove and Red Thyme Most Potent Antifungals in Study

Antifungal activity of essential oils against filamentous fungi determined by broth microdilution and vapour contact methods.

Tullio V, Nostro A, Mandras N, Dugo P, Banche G, Cannatelli MA, Cuffini AM, Alonzo V, Carlone NA

Department of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.

AIMS: The in vitro activity of some essential oils (EO) (thyme red, fennel, clove, pine, sage, lemon balm and lavender) against clinical and environmental fungal strains was determined. METHODS AND RESULTS: The minimal inhibitory concentrations were determined by a microdilution method in RPMI 1640 and by a vapour contact assay. The composition of oils was analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and GC/mass spectrometry. The results indicated that the oils antifungal activity depended on the experimental assay used. The inhibiting effects of EO in vapour phase were generally higher than those in liquid state. According to both methods thyme red and clove were found to be the oils with the widest spectrum of activity against all fungi tested. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the differences between the two methods, our results demonstrate that some EO are very active on dermatophytes and dematiaceous fungi. However, more data will be necessary to confirm this good in vitro efficacy. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: This study could identify candidates of EO for developing alternative methods to control environmental and clinically undesirable filamentous fungi.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inhaling Essential Oils Studied for Positive Effect on Blood Pressure

The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension

Hwang JH.

Department of Nursing, Geochang Provincial College, Geochang-gun, Gyungnam, Korea.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of aromatherapy on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. METHOD: There were fifty-two subjects divided into an essential oil group, placebo group, and control group by random assignment. The application of aromatherapy was the inhalation method of blending oils with lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot once daily for 4 weeks. To evaluate the effects of aromatherapy, blood pressure and pulse were measured two times a week and serum cortisol levels, catecholamine levels, subjective stress, and state anxiety were measured before and after treatment in the three groups. Data was analyzed by repeated measures of ANOVA, one-way ANOVA, and chi(2)-test using the SPSS 10.0 program. RESULTS: The blood pressure, pulse, subjective stress, state anxiety, and serum cortisol levels among the three groups were significantly statistically different. The differences of catecholamine among the three groups were not significant statistically.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the inhalation method using essential oils can be considered an effective nursing intervention that reduces psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels, as well as the blood pressure of clients with essential hypertension.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Anti-Fungal Activity of Oregano Ranked Highest in Study of Several Essential Oils

The vapor activity of oregano, perilla, tea tree, lavender, clove, and geranium oils against a Trichophyton mentagrophytes in a closed box.

Inouye S, Nishiyama Y, Uchida K, Hasumi Y, Yamaguchi H, Abe S.

Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology, 256 Otsuka, Hachioji, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0395, Japan.

The vapor activity (Ed. Note: 'Vapor' as from a cold-air nebulizing diffuser) of six essential oils against a Trichophyton mentagrophytes (a type of fungus) was examined using a closed box. The antifungal activity was determined from colony size, which was correlated with the inoculum size. As judged from the minimum inhibitory dose and the minimum fungicidal dose determined after vapor exposure for 24 h, the vapor activity of the six essential oils was ranked in the following order: oregano > clove, perilla > geranium, lavender, tea tree. The vapors of oregano, perilla, tea tree, and lavender oils killed the mycelia by short exposure, for 3 h, but the vapors of clove and geranium oils were only active after overnight exposure. The vapor of oregano and other oils induced lysis of the mycelia. Morphological examination by scanning electron microscope (SEM) revealed that the cell membrane and cell wall were damaged in a dose- and time-dependent manner by the action of oregano vapor, causing rupture and peeling of the cell wall, with small bulges coming from the cell membrane. The vapor activity increased after 24 h, but mycelial accumulation of the active oil constituents was maximized around 15 h, and then decreased in parallel with the decrease of vapor concentration. This suggested that the active constituent accumulated on the fungal cells around 15 h caused irreversible damage, which eventually led to cellular death.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Components of Thyme and Oregano ssential Oils Have DNA Protective Effects

Comparative study of DNA-damaging and DNA-protective effects of selected components of essential plant oils in human leukemic cells K562.

Horvathova E, Turcaniova V, Slamenova D.

Eucalyptol, carvacrol and thymol represent components of plant essential oils characterized by a wide range of biological effects toward microorganisms, fungi, insects, etc. However, till now only a few investigations have been carried out to study the effects of essential oils and their components on human cells cultured in vitro. The aim of our work was therefore to compare cytotoxic and DNA-damaging effects of eucalyptol (found in Eucalyptus), carvacrol (found in Oregano) and thymol (found in Thyme) on human leukemic K562 cells cultured in vitro and to investigate their possible protective (antioxidant) effects against hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage. Testing of cytotoxic activity was performed by the trypan blue exclusion technique. The amount of DNA lesions in K562 cells treated with the plant volatiles studied or their combinations with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was measured by alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE; comet assay). We found out that eucalyptol, carvacrol and thymol differed in their cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on K562 cells. As a very important we consider the finding that carvacrol and thymol significantly reduced the level of DNA damage induced in K562 cells by the strong oxidant H2O2. Neither DNA-damaging nor DNA-protective effect was observed using eucalyptol pre-treatment of K562 cells.

We assume that DNA-protective effects of carvacrol and thymol can be accompanied by their antioxidant action.

Essential Oils of the Ginger Family Studied for Antibacterial Action

Antibacterial Effect of Five Zingiberaceae Essential Oils.

Norajit K, Laohakunjit N, Kerdchoechuen O.
School of Bioresources and Technology, King Mongkut?s University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkhuntein, Bangkok, Thailand.

Essential oil obtained by hydrodistillation and two different solvent extractions (petroleum ether and ethanol) from five Zingiberaceae species: ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe.), galanga (Alpinia galanga Sw.), turmeric (Curcuma longa L.), kaempferia (Boesenbergia pandurata Holtt.) and bastard cardamom (Amomum xanthioides Wall.) was characterized. Volatile components of all extracts were analyzed by gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GC-MS). The major components of ginger, turmeric, galangal, bastard cardamom and kaempferia were zingiberene, turmerone, methyl chavicol, and gamma-terpinene, respectively. Their antibacterial effects towards Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Listeria monocytogenes were tested by a disc diffusion assay. Essential oil of kaempferia and bastard cardamom obtained by hydrodistillation extraction could inhibit growth of all tested bacteria. Essential oil of ginger extracted by hydrodistillation had the highest efficiency against three positive strains of bacteria (S. aureus, B. cereus and L. monocytogenes), with a minimum concentration to inhibit B. cereus and L. monocytogenes of 6.25 mg/mL.

Monday, October 22, 2007

True Lavender Essential Oil Studied for Insommnia

A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia.

Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P.
University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

BACKGROUND: Insomnia is the most common of all sleep complaints and is under-researched. The current treatments of choice are conventional hypnotics agents, but these have potential for serious adverse reactions. Uncontrolled and anecdotal evidence suggests that lavender oil is an effective treatment for insomnia, but this has not been formally investigated. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to evaluate the proposed trial methodology and the efficacy of Lavandula augustifolia (lavender) on insomnia. Interventions: Interventions consisted of Lavandula augustifolia (treatment) and sweet almond oil as placebo/control. The aroma was supplied via an Aromastream device (Tisserand Aromatherapy, Sussex, UK). DESIGN: This was a pilot study with randomized, single-blind, cross-over design (baseline, two treatment periods, and a washout period, each of 1 week duration). SUBJECTS AND SETTING: Volunteers with defined insomnia treated on a domiciliary basis participated in the study. OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcomes were assessed with the following: Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) indicating insomnia (score > 5 at entry); Borkovec and Nau (B&N) Questionnaire evaluating treatment credibility; and Holistic Complementary and Alternative Medicine Questionnaire (HCAMQ) assessing attitudes to CAM and health beliefs.

RESULTS: Ten (10) volunteers (5 male and 5 female) were entered and completed the 4 week study. Lavender created an improvement of -2.5 points in PSQI (p = 0.07, 95% CI - 4.95 to - 0.4). Each intervention was equally credible and belief in CAM did not predict outcome. Women and younger volunteers with a milder insomnia improved more than others. No period or carry-over effect was observed.

CONCLUSION: The methodology for this pilot study appeared to be appropriate. Outcomes favor lavender, and a larger trial is required to draw definitive conclusions.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Anitbacterial Activity of Essential Oils

In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils.

BACKGROUND: To evaluate the antibacterial activity of 21 plant essential oils against six bacterial species. METHODS: The selected essential oils were screened against four gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris) and two gram-positive bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus at four different concentrations (1:1, 1:5, 1:10 and 1:20) using disc diffusion method. The MIC of the active essential oils were tested using two fold agar dilution method at concentrations ranging from 0.2 to 25.6 mg/ml.

RESULTS: Out of 21 essential oils tested, 19 oils showed antibacterial activity against one or more strains. Cinnamon, clove, geranium, lemon, lime, orange and rosemary oils exhibited significant inhibitory effect. Cinnamon oil showed promising inhibitory activity even at low concentration, whereas aniseed, eucalyptus and camphor oils were least active against the tested bacteria. In general, B. subtilis was the most susceptible. On the other hand, K. pneumoniae exhibited low degree of sensitivity.

CONCLUSION: Majority of the oils showed antibacterial activity against the tested strains. However Cinnamon, clove and lime oils were found to be inhibiting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Cinnamon oil can be a good source of antibacterial agents.

Antioxidant Activity Study of a Few Essential Oils

Editor's note: While this study does not describe practical application of the essential oils involved, it does make evident that a wide variety of essential oils do contain significant amounts of anti-oxidant activity. Clove oil is perhaps the most potent of all in terms of its anti-oxidant capacity, with an ORAC value of 10,786,875. Most herbal anti-oxidants are in the thousands to tens-of-thousands range.

Antioxidant activities and volatile constituents of various essential oils.

Wei A, Shibamoto T. Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.

Thirteen essential oils were examined for their antioxidant activity using three different assay systems. Jasmine, parsley seed, rose, and ylang-ylang oils inhibited hexanal oxidation by over 95% after 40 days at a level of 500 microg/mL in the aldehyde/carboxylic acid assay. Scavenging abilities of the oils for the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical ranged from 39% for angelica seed oil to 90% for jasmine oil at a level of 200 microg/mL. The greatest inhibitory activity toward malonaldehyde (MA) formation from squalene upon UV-irradiation was obtained from parsley seed oil (inhibitory effect, 67%), followed by rose oil (46%), and celery seed oil (23%) at the level of 500 microg/mL. The main compounds of oils showing high antioxidant activity were limonene (composition, 74.6%) in celery seed, benzyl acetate (22.9%) in jasmine, alpha-pinene (33.7%) in juniper berry, myristicin (44%) in parsley seed, patchouli alcohol (28.8%) in patchouli, citronellol (34.2%) in rose, and germacrene (19.1%) in ylang-ylang.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Children's Essential Oil Preferences - A Pilot Study

The effect of gender and ethnicity on children's attitudes and preferences for essential oils: a pilot study.

Fitzgerald M, Culbert T, Finkelstein M, Green M, Johnson A, Chen S.
Integrative Medicine Program, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA.

CONTEXT: Aromatherapy is frequently recommended for children but children's preferences for specific essential oils are not well documented.

OBJECTIVE: To measure preferences of school aged children for essential oils based on gender and ethnicity.

DESIGN: Descriptive study measuring children's responses to and preferences for selected essential oils.

SETTING: Pediatric integrative medicine clinic in a Midwestern children's hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Healthy school-age children of Latino (N = 39) and non-Latino Caucasian (NLC) (N = 48) ethnicity, 41.7% of the NLC group and 59.0% of the Latino Group were males.

INTERVENTION: Participants smelled single essential oils, answered three forced choice questions and one open ended question, order of exposure was varied.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants evaluated each scent's effect on mood and energy, stated their preferences, indicated if scents evoked particular thoughts and selected a favorite essential oil.

RESULTS: Females were more likely to feel happy when smelling sweet orange (p = .043). Female Latinos were more likely than NLC females to find sweet orange calming (56.2% vs. 18.5%). Male Latinos were more likely (65.2%) to describe peppermint as "energetic" than male NLC (30%). Children chose an essential oil that they rated as "making them feel happy" (72.6%) and/or as "liking the most" (64.3%). Other results that approached statistical significance were: females felt more energetic with spearmint (p = .055). Latinos preferred spearmint over NLC (p = .075), and all males felt more energetic when smelling ginger (p = .091). Ginger and lavender were the least preferred. Results indicate that children have specific essential oil scent preferences. There is trend toward differences based on gender and ethnicity.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Anti-Inflammatory Action of Geranium Essential Oil

Suppression of Carrageenan- and Collagen II-Induced Inflammation in Mice by Geranium Oil

Authors: Naho Maruyama, Hiroko Ishibashi, Weimin Hu, Shinichiro Morofuji, Shigeharu Inouye, Hideyo Yamaguchi, and Shigeru Abe


To obtain experimental evidence on the therapeutic efficacy of essential oils in aromatherapy for inflammatory diseases, we examined the effects of geranium oil on carrageenan-induced and collagen II-induced inflammation in mice, to assess acute and chronic anti-inflammatory activities of the oil. Single intraperitoneal injection of 5 ?L of geranium oil clearly suppressed the carrageenan-induced footpaw edema and increase in tissue myeloperoxidase activity, and repeated administration of the oil suppressed collagen-induced arthritis. These results revealed that geranium oil suppressed both acute and chronic inflammatory responses in mice.


Aromatherapy is one of the alternative medicines using essential oils and has long been used as an herbal medicine. Recently essential oils have been empirically used worldwide for clinical conditions including various kinds of inflammatory diseases, such as allergy, rheumatism, and arthritis. These activities have mainly been recognized through clinical experience, but there has been relatively little evidence about the pharmacological actions of these oils.
Several investigators have suggested that tea tree [1, 2] and lavender [3] oils suppressed allergic symptoms through the suppression of histamine release [4, 5] and cytokine production [6] in vitro and in vivo. Several essential oils such as eucalyptus [7] and lavender [8] oils inhibited carrageenan-induced paw edema. Moreover, in human, skin application of tea tree oil was reported to suppress the edema induced by intradermal injection of histamine [9]. However, the chronic effects of essential oils using inflammatory mice model have hardly been investigated.

Previously we reported that the essential oils such as geranium oil suppressed the adherence response of neutrophils in vitro [10], and that the intraperitoneal administration of geranium oil lowered neutrophil recruitment into the peritoneal cavity induced by injection of a chemotactic agent, casein in vivo [11]. We also reported that both intraperitoneal and cutaneous applications of the oil suppressed cellular inflammation and neutrophil accumulation to the inflammatory sites which were induced by curdlan, a linear (1 ? 3)-?-D-glucan known as an immunostimulating substance in fungi [12]. These results suggested the possibility that geranium oil might effectively suppress symptoms in inflammatory disease associated with neutrophil activities.

In the present study, we investigated the effects of geranium oil on carrageenan-induced foot edema and collagen-induced arthritis, which are models for acute and chronic inflammation accompanied by neutrophil accumulation.


It was noted that 5 ?L of geranium oil suppressed the foot swelling during and after the oil injection period, suggesting a long-lasting effect of this oil. Preliminary study showed that indomethacin inhibited the swelling only during its administration, and 1 week after completion of the injection the feet gradually swelled (data not shown). This indicates that repetitive administration of the oil may elicit a long-lasting effect.

In aromatherapy, several essential oils can be applied as a help in therapeutic treatments for inflammatory symptoms with lesional neutrophil accumulation, such as arthritis, aphthous stomatitis, lesional bacterial or fungal infections. Their effectiveness is postulated clinically, but little experimental evidence has been obtained. Our two results give basic evidence about the activity of geranium oil for both acute and chronic inflammatory disorders.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sandalwood Essential Oil Molecule Significantly Improves Sleep

This recent study showed markedly improved sleep patterns with Santalol, a molecule found primarily in Sandalwood essential oils. The study notes that it is not particularly the aroma of the oil component, but its physiological effects not associated with the olfactory system. This implies that Sandalwood oil, topically applied before bed, may support regular sleep patterns.

Effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats

Ohmori A, Shinomiya K, Utsu Y, Tokunaga S, Hasegawa Y, Kamei C.
Department of Medicinal Pharmacology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Japan.

Sandalwood oil is widely used in aromatherapy for alleviating various symptoms. Santalol, a major component of sandalwood oil, has been reported to have central nervous system depressant effects such as sedation. In the present study, we investigated the effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. When inhaled at a concentration of 5 X 10(-2) ppm, santalol caused a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in total non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep time. In order to clarify the mechanism of action, olfactory hypofunction was caused in rats by intranasal application of 5% zinc sulfate solution, and thereafter the effects of inhalation of fragrances were evaluated. In this study, it was found that the impairment of the olfactory system showed no significant effect on the changes in sleep parameters induced by santalol. This result suggests that santalol may act via the circulatory system rather than the olfactory system. That is, santalol is thought to be absorbed into the blood through the respiratory mucosa, and then exert its action. From these results, it is concluded that santalol may be useful in patients having difficulty maintaining sleep without being affected by individual differences in perfume-related preference.

The Hypotensive Effects of Oregano Oil's Main Component

A recent study shows hypotensive action of Carvacrol, the most abunndant molecule in Oregano essential oil:

Hypotensive Effects of Carvacrol on the Blood Pressure of Normotensive Rats.

Aydin Y, Kutlay O, Ari S, Duman S, Uzuner K, Aydin S.
Eski?ehir Osmangazi University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physiology, Eskisehir, Turkey.

Carvacrol is the major compound of essential oils of many plants, ethnomedically used for centuries but there were no detailed investigations on its action on the cardiovascular system. The aim of our study was to investigate the role of carvacrol on the cardiovascular functions of anesthetized rats and IN VITRO of isolated rat aorta. Carvacrol (100 mug/kg, I. P.) decreased heart rate, mean arterial pressure and systolic and diastolic blood pressures of the anesthetized rats whereas there were no effects at 1, 10 and 20 mug/kg. Carvacrol was observed to exhibit hypotension and to inhibit N((omega))-nitro- L-arginine methyl ester ( L-NAME)-induced hypertension. The lack of inhibitory action of carvacrol (10 (-4) M) on the CaCl (2)- and phenylephrine-induced contractions of isolated rat aorta showed that neither adrenergic receptors nor voltage-dependent vascular L-type calcium channels were involved. But, based on previous investigations, the involvement of cardiac L-type calcium channel blocking actions are suggested for the hypotensive actions of carvacrol was assumed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Essential Oil Massage Tested for Fat Loss

Effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women

Department of Nursing, Wonkwang Health Science College, Korea.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to verify the effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women.

METHOD: A Non-equivalent control group pre-post test Quasi-experimental design of random assignment was applied. All subjects received one hour of whole body massage as treatment by the same researcher every week for 6 weeks. Participants also massaged their own abdomen two times everyday for 5 days each week for 6 weeks. The two groups used different kinds of oil. The experimental group used 3% grapefruit oil, cypress and three other kinds of oil. The control group used grapeseed oil. Data was collected before and after the treatment using Siemens Somatom Sensation 4, a tape measure and MBSRQ. Data was analyzed by ANCOVA using the SPSS/PC+Win 12 Version.

RESULT: Abdominal subcutaneous fat and waist circumference in the experimental group significantly decreased after aromatherapy massage compared to the control group. Body image in the experimental group was significantly better after aromatherapy massage than in the control group.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that Aromatherapy massage could be utilized as an effective intervention to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat, waist circumference, and to improve body image in post-menopausal women.

Editor's note: The 'other' oils in the experimental group's blend are not noted. However, it grapefruit essential oil itself is commonly used in blends for adipose reduction. Lavender is often used for appetite control, and may aid the stress-relieving ability of the oils, reducing stress-induced over eating.

Friday, October 05, 2007

More Essential Oil Research

Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) Essential Oils.

Bozin B, Mimica-Dukic N, Samojlik I, Jovin E.

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacy, University of Novi Sad, Hajduk Veljkova 3, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia, Faculty of Sciences, Deprtment of Chemistry, University of Novi Sad, Trg D. Obradovica 3, Novi Sad, Serbia, and Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Novi Sad, Hajduk Veljkova 3, Novi Sad, Serbia.

The essential oils of rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and sage ( Salvia officinalis L.) were analyzed by means of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and assayed for their antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. Antimicrobial activity was tested against 13 bacterial strains and 6 fungi, including Candida albicans and 5 dermatomycetes. The most important antibacterial activity of both essential oils was expressed on Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, S. enteritidis, and Shigella sonei. A significant rate of antifungal activity, especially of essential oil of rosemary, was also exhibited. Antioxidant activity was evaluated as a free radical scavenging capacity (RSC), together with the effect on lipid peroxidation (LP). RSC was assessed by measuring the scavenging activity of essential oils on 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazil (DPPH) and hydroxyl radicals. Effects on LP were evaluated following the activities of essential oils in Fe (2+)/ascorbate and Fe (2+)/H 2O 2 systems of induction. Investigated essential oils reduced the DPPH radical formation (IC 50 = 3.82 microg/mL for rosemary and 1.78 microg/mL for sage) in a dose-dependent manner. Strong inhibition of LP in both systems of induction was especially observed for the essential oil of rosemary.

Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography.

Shiina Y, Funabashi N, Lee K, Toyoda T, Sekine T, Honjo S, Hasegawa R, Kawata T, Wakatsuki Y, Hayashi S, Murakami S, Koike K, Daimon M, Komuro I.

Department of Cardiovascular Science and Medicine, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba City, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.

PURPOSE: It has been reported that mental stress is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events and impairs coronary circulation. Lavender aromatherapy, one of the most popular complementary treatments, is recognized as a beneficial mental relaxation therapy. However, no study has examined the effect of this therapy on coronary circulation. We aimed to assess the effect of lavender aromatherapy on coronary circulation by measuring coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR) with noninvasive transthoracic Doppler echocardiography (TTDE). MATERIAL AND METHODS: We enrolled 30 young healthy men (mean age 34+/-4.7 years, range 24-40 years). Coronary flow velocities in the left anterior descending coronary artery were recorded by TTDE at rest and during hyperemia induced with an intravenous infusion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). CFVR was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to basal mean diastolic flow velocity. CFVR was assessed at baseline and immediately after lavender aromatherapy (four drops of essential oil diluted with 20 ml of hot water and inhaled for 30 min). Simultaneously, serum cortisol was measured as a marker of stress hormones. To exclude the relaxation effects of rest, the same measurements were repeated in the same volunteers without aromatherapy as a control study. RESULTS: CFVR measurements were obtained in all volunteers (100%). Blood pressure and heart rate responses to ATP infusion were not affected by lavender aromatherapy. Serum cortisol significantly decreased after lavender aromatherapy (8.4+/-3.6 to 6.3+/-3.3, p<0.05), but remained unchanged in controls (9.1+/-3.5 to 8.1+/-3.9, p=ns). In addition, CFVR significantly increased after lavender aromatherapy (3.8+/-0.87 to 4.7+/-0.90, p<0.001), but not in controls (3.9+/-0.8 to 3.9+/-0.8, p=ns). CONCLUSIONS: Lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol and improved CFVR in healthy men. These findings suggest that lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Few of the Latest Research Publications on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Here's a few interesting scientific studies using essential oils:

Influence of cinnamon and clove essential oils on the D- and z-values of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in apple cider

Escherichia coli O157:H7 has become a concern within the apple cider industry. The purpose of this study was to screen several essential oils and isolated components for antimicrobial activity against E. coli O157:H7 in tryptic soy broth at neutral and acidic pH and to assess the effect of these additives on the D-value of E. coli O157:H7 in apple cider in combination with mild heat treatments. Cinnamon oil and clove oil strongly inhibited the growth of E. coli O157:H7 at neutral and acidic pH, (R)-(-)-carvone and (S)-(-)-perillaldehyde were moderately inhibitory at both pH 7.2 and pH 4.5, and citral and geraniol displayed moderate activity at pH 4.5 only. Lemon oil, methyl jasmonate, and p-anisaldehyde displayed little or no antibacterial activity. A synergistic effect between the essential oils and the lower pH of the growth medium was evident by consistently lower MICs at pH 4.5. Cinnamon and clove oils (0.01%, vol/vol) were further tested in apple cider in combination with mild heat treatments for the practical control of E. coli O157:H7 in apple cider. The addition of either essential oil resulted in lower D-values than those for cider alone, suggesting a synergistic effect and the potential efficacy of a mild heat treatment for apple cider.

Potential of rosemary oil to be used in drug-resistant infections.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the antimicrobial activity potential of the essential oil of rosemary specifically for its efficacy against the drug-resistant mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis, Escherichia coli, and Candida albicans. METHOD: Antibacterial, antifungal, and drug resistance-modifying activity was evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively following disc diffusion and broth dilution assay procedures. RESULTS: The rosemary essential oil was found to be more active against the gram-positive pathogenic bacteria except E. faecalis and drug-resistant mutants of E. coli, compared to gram-negative bacteria. Similarly, it was found to be more active toward nonfilamentous, filamentous, dermatophytic pathogenic fungi and drug-resistant mutants of Candida albicans. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that characterization and isolation of the active compound(s) from the rosemary oil may be useful in counteracting gram-positive bacterial, fungal, and drug-resistant infections.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Brief History of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a Greek word, aroma means fragrance and therapy means treatment and the term "aromatherapie" was created by French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in about 1928.

The history of aromatherapy dates back to about 4500 BC and there is evidence in the Bible of the use of Essential Oils for therapeutic and religious purposes (Frankincense, Ravensara and Spikenard).

There are historical evidences to prove that essential oils were used by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Persians. In ancient Egypt the essential oils were used for mummification and for embalming the dead bodies and the plant oils were also used for mental relaxation and therapeutic use.

Hippocrates, referred to as the father of medicine, used and experimented with herb oils to relieve pain and some ailments. He promoted the beneficial effects of herb oils by advocating oil baths, oil massages and cosmetics prepared from essential oils. There is a consensus that the use of herbal oils first originated in Egypt where they used the herb oil for mummification and embalming the dead. Thereafter, it was borrowed by Greeks and from which the Romans learnt it to treat wounded gladiators.

The Romans were good chemists and they knew the art of extracting oils from plants and flowers. They made new composition of oils by importing raw material from east India and Arabia. The most important discovery made in Persian civilization was steam distillation of plants which produced true essential oils.

Earlier methods used only produced herbal water. Ibn Sina was the man who invented a pipe in which the plants were steam distilled to create a medicine. He was also the first one to distill alcohol and perfume.

There is evidence in an old Chinese medical book about the use herbs for the treatment of various ailments. The uses of herbal medicines by the Chinese were of the same period as the Egyptians.

In the nineteenth century many industries were set up which produced essential oils and they were marketed as perfumes and cosmetics.

The history of aromatherapy can be noted in India in the form of treatment called ayurveda, which is about three thousand years old. Even today this form of medicine is very popular. Kerela, a state of India is very famous for producing medicinal plants and essential oils. The medicinal qualities of these herbs are well known and attract people from all over the world for treatments of various diseases.

Aromatherapy is a natural alternative therapy using essential oils, also known as Aromatherapy Oils. As you can see this practice has been used for thousands of years and is still extremely popular in today's society.

- Thanks to Louise Smith for this article.

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