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Friday, November 30, 2007

Oregano Essential Oil Components of Carvacrol and Thymol Both Important

Editor's note: This study evaluted the anti-microbial effects of the two primary constituents of oregano essential oil: Carvacrol and Thymol. While oregano is often marketed with the concentration of Carvacrol noted, it is important to recognize (and this is the case with almost ALL essential oils) that it is a synergy of the oil's molecules, not just a single isolated chemical, that produces the profound health effects.

A study of the minimum inhibitory concentration and mode of action of oregano essential oil, thymol and carvacrol.

Lambert RJ, Skandamis PN, Coote PJ, Nychas GJ.
Unilever Research Colworth, SEAC-Microbiology, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, UK.

AIMS: The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of oregano essential oil (OEO) and two of its principle components, i.e. thymol and carvacrol, against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus was assessed by using an innovative technique. The mechanism of action of the above substances was also investigated. METHODS AND RESULTS: The applied technique uses 100-well microtitre plate and collects turbidimetric growth data. To produce the inhibition profiles, a wide range of concentrations were tested for each of the three compounds, as well as for carvacrol-thymol mixtures. Following a specific mathematical analysis of the observed inhibition profiles from all compounds, it was suggested that mixtures of carvacrol and thymol gave an additive effect and that the overall inhibition by OEO can be attributed mainly to the additive antimicrobial action of these two compounds. Addition of low amounts of each additive: (a) increased permeability of cells to the nuclear stain EB, (b) dissipated pH gradients as indicated by the CFDA-SE fluorescent probe irrespective of glucose availability and (c) caused leakage of inorganic ions. CONCLUSION: Mixing carvacrol and thymol at proper amounts may exert the total inhibition that is evident by oregano essential oil. Such inhibition is due to damage in membrane integrity, which further affects pH homeostasis and equilibrium of inorganic ions. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The knowledge of extent and mode of inhibition of specific compounds, which are present in plant extracts, may contribute to the successful application of such natural preservatives in foods, since certain combinations of carvacrol-thymol provide as high inhibition as oregano essential oil with a smaller flavour impact.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oil Aromas Reduce Stress

Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva.

Atsumi T, Tonosaki K.
Department of Oral Physiology, Meikai University, School of Dentistry, 1-1, Keyaki-dai, Sakado-shi, Saitama 350-0283, Japan.

Free radicals/reactive oxygen species are related to many biological phenomena such as inflammation, aging, and carcinogenesis. The body possesses various antioxidative systems (free radical scavenging activity, FRSA) for preventing oxidative stress, and saliva contains such activity. In the present study, we measured the total salivary FRSA induced after the smelling of lavender and rosemary essential oils that are widely used in aromatherapy. Various physiologically active substances in saliva such as cortisol, secretory IgA, and alpha-amylase activity were found to be correlated with aroma-induced FRSA. The subjects (22 healthy volunteers) sniffed aroma for 5 min, and each subject's saliva was collected immediately. FRSA was measured using 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl. The FRSA values were increased by stimulation with low concentrations (1000 times dilution) of lavender or by high-concentrations (10 times dilution) of rosemary. In contrast, both lavender and rosemary stimulations decreased cortisol levels. A significant inverse correlation was observed between the FRSA values and the cortisol levels with each concentration of rosemary stimulation. No significant changes were noted in sIgA or alpha-amylase. These findings clarify that lavender and rosemary enhance FRSA and decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, which protects the body from oxidative stress.

Editor's note: This is an interesting study, as it shows one of the biological actions of stress reduction due to only the smelling of essential oils. The aromas of Lavender and Rosemary essential oils both increased the action of anti-oxidants and reduced stress hormone levels.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Marjoram Essential Oil - Two Studies Note Its Protective Effects

Protective effect of volatile oil, alcoholic and aqueous extracts of Origanum majorana (Sweet Marjoram) on lead acetate toxicity in mice. (Ed. Note: The 'volatile oil' is Marjoram Essential Oil)

el-Ashmawy IM, el-Nahas AF, Salama OM.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.

Natural dietary antioxidants are extensively studied for their ability to protect cells from miscellaneous damages. Origanum majorana L., Lamiaceae, is a potent antioxidant. The effect of administration of O. majorana (volatile oil, alcoholic and aqueous extracts) on oral administration of lead acetate in the diet of mice at concentration 0.5% (W/W) for one month were studied by measuring serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), urea and creatinine, histopathological changes of the liver and kidney and genotoxicity including, rate of micronucleus and chromosomal aberrations in bone marrow cells. Mice were treated with the 3 different forms of O. majorana, one month before and maintained with lead acetate administration. The 3 forms of O. majorana induced a significant decrease in serum activities of transaminases (AST & ALT), ALP, urea and creatinine and improved the liver and kidney histology in comparison with lead acetate treated group. Alcoholic extracts of O. majorana significantly reduced the rate of micronucleus, number of aberrant cells and different kinds of chromosomal aberrations. Volatile oil extract (essential oil) significantly reduced the rate of micronucleus and chromosomal fragments. Aqueous extract and volatile oil also of O. majorana significantly reduced number of gaps, ring chromosome and stickiness. It could be concluded that O. majorana plays an important role in ameliorating liver and kidney functions and genotoxicity induced by lead toxicity.

Effects of marjoram volatile oil (again, Marjoram essential oil) and grape seed extract on ethanol toxicity in male rats.

El-Ashmawy IM, Saleh A, Salama OM.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.

Natural dietary antioxidants are extensively studied for their ability to protect cells from miscellaneous damages. Marjoram volatile oil (Origanum majorana L., Lamiaceae) and grape seed extract (Vitis vinifera L., Vitaceae) are potent antioxidants. Effects of administration of marjoram volatile oil or grape seed extract on oral administration of ethanol, simultaneously, daily for 10 weeks were studied through determining epididymal spermatozoal analysis, serum testosterone level, weight and histopathological examination of testis, liver and brain. Glutathione level and lipid peroxidation content as malondialdehyde in the testis, liver and brain were measured. The repeated intake of a great amount of ethanol (10 ml/kg body weight, 25% v/v) was followed by fertility disturbances with low sperm count, impaired sperm motility and decrease in serum testosterone level. Moreover, ethanol toxicity induced significant alterations in the histological structures of the testis, liver and brain. The results revealed a significant increase in lipid peroxidation and decrease in the level of glutathione in the testis, liver and brain in the ethanol-treated group. However, co-administration of the extracts of protective plants resulted in minimizing the hazard effects of ethanol toxicity on male fertility, liver and brain tissues. It may be concluded that marjoram volatile oil (essential oil) and grape seed extract are useful herbal remedies, especially for controlling oxidative damages.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wormwood Essential Oil Inhibits Herpes Virus

Antiherpes activity of Artemisia arborescens (Wormwood) essential oil and inhibition of lateral diffusion in Vero cells.

Saddi M, Sanna A, Cottiglia F, Chisu L, Casu L, Bonsignore L, De Logu A.

BACKGROUND: New prophylactic and therapeutic tools are needed for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections. Several essential oils have shown to possess antiviral activity in vitro against a wide spectrum of viruses. Aim: The present study was assess to investigate the activities of the essential oil obtained from leaves of Artemisia arborescens against HSV-1 and HSV-2 METHODS: The cytotoxicity in Vero cells was evaluated by the MTT reduction method. The IC50 values were determined by plaque reduction assay. In order to characterize the mechanism of action, yield reduction assay, inhibition of plaque development assay, attachment assay, penetration assay and post-attachment virus neutralization assay were also performed. RESULTS: The IC50 values, determined by plaque reduction assay, were 2.4 and 4.1 microg/ml for HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively, while the cytotoxicity assay against Vero cells, as determined by the MTT reduction method, showed a CC50 value of 132 microg/ml, indicating a CC50/IC50 ratio of 55 for HSV-1 and 32.2 for HSV-2. The antiviral activity of A. arborescens essential oil is principally due to direct virucidal effects. A poor activity determined by yield reduction assay was observed against HSV-1 at higher concentrations when added to cultures of infected cells. No inhibition was observed by attachment assay, penetration assay and post-attachment virus neutralization assay. Furthermore, inhibition of plaque development assay showed that A. arborescens essential oil inhibits the lateral diffusion of both HSV-1 and HSV-2. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the antiviral activity of the essential oil in toto obtained from A. arborescens against HSV-1 and HSV-2. The mode of action of the essential oil as antiherpesvirus agent seems to be particularly interesting in consideration of its ability to inactivate the virus and to inhibit the cell-to-cell virus diffusion.

Editor's Note: Wormwood essential oil is not commonly used in aromatherapy as it is considered particularly toxic. It could be used in very small amounts topically without ill effect, though should never be taken internally. The essential oil is available via special order through Ananda for experienced practitioners. Please call or email us for ordering information. Melissa oil, however, has also been extensivly studied for its inhibition of the Herpes virus, with at least one German researcher reporting that complete remission of the virus had been achieved with regular use through several outbreaks. Melissa, while potent, is completely safe for human use.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Essential Oils Are Like Fine Wines...

Editor's Note: This is an essay written by a man who has much experience with fine wines, and is here comparing the blending of essential oils to the complexity of a really good wine. We often find an artfully created blend can surpass the aromatic wonder of many single oils. Blending sucessfully is challenging - it takes intuition, knowledge and patience. As noted here, your blends may not always smell great right away; oftentimes they'll need to 'stew' for awhile before the majic of all the notes together is apparent...

From the Author: I spent 30 years, my whole adult life up to this point, in the wine industry. I owned a retail store and, over the course of those 30 years, tasted and smelled literally thousands of wines. Of the many aspects of wine that I found fascinating, I think the most interesting is how wines change over time.

Young wines are brash and exuberant. The nose of a young wine is redolent with bright ripe fruit, oak if there is any, and, if it's a truly great wine, a few other nuances to add interest. As a wine ages, the primary aromas of fresh fruit give way to the secondary, or what is known as tertiary aromas. At this stage the fruit aromas are replaced by non-fruit aromas, ie. earth, truffle, forest floor, and spice. Whereas in a young wine, the aromas are compartmentalized and separate, in a mature wine the aromas are far more interesting and meld into a seamless and complex bouquet.

So, you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with essential oils? I've come to learn that essential oil blends evolve in much the same way wine does. My wife has been experimenting with essential oils for many years and has developed a number of blends that she uses in her line of body care products. The process of blending oils is a combination of art and science and takes years to master. The synergy of a successful blend is far more compelling than any one essential oil alone.

Today, she let me smell a "green" or new blend that she had just created and had me compare its aroma to the same blend that had aged for about one year. The difference was startling. The new blend had the segmented aspect of a young wine with each essential oil's particular scent distinct and separate from the other. In the year old blend the different scents had melded into a very complex bouquet where no one scent dominated the other. Instead, they were seamlessly intertwined to create a scent where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
I now have a much greater appreciation for the expertise involved in the blending of these precious oils. It has also allowed me to use the knowledge I gained from the many years I've spent with my nose stuck in a wineglass to assist her in identifying the many nuances that a successful essential oil blend creates. Wine tasting and blending essential oils are both acquired skills that take many years to perfect and the combinations are limitless. As with both, the lesson is simple. The more you learn the more you realize how little you know. But the journey, along with the opportunity for discovery, is the best part.

Mario Vitale spent 30 years in the fine wine business in Cleveland, Ohio and established one of the most successful retail wine businesses in the state. His business, Western Reserve Wines, was voted Best Wine Shop in Cleveland, and his clientele came from across the country. He sold the business in 2006 to join his wife in her skin care business and moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Anti-oxidant Activity of Essential Oil Components Reduces DNA Damage

DNA-protective effects of two components of essential plant oils carvacrol (from the essential oil of Oregano) and thymol (from the essential oil of Thyme) on mammalian cells cultured in vitro.

Slamenová D, Horváthová E, Sramková M, Marsálková L.
Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Science, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Many components of essential volatile oils (essential oils) show antioxidant activity and may serve e.g. as a natural replacement of synthetic antioxidant food additives. However, it is important to evaluate such compounds also for their pro-oxidant and toxic properties as their plant origin doesn't secure their safety for living beings, including humans. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate cytotoxic, genotoxic and DNA-protective effects of the long-term (24 h) incubation of mammalian cells with two components of essential plant oils (carvacrol and thymol) in in vitro conditions. Cytotoxicity testing was in all cell lines (human hepatoma cells HepG2, human colonic cells Caco-2 and hamster lung cells V79) performed on the basis of trypan blue exclusion. Plating efficiency was evaluated only in V79 cells which manifest a high colony forming ability. The amount of DNA lesions induced in cells treated with hydrogen peroxide, carvacrol, thymol or combinations of carvacrol or thymol with hydrogen peroxide was measured by standard alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis in human cells HepG2 and Caco-2. Trypan blue exclusion test showed that carvacrol was mildly more cytotoxic than thymol and that Caco-2 cells were mildly more resistant to both carvacrol and thymol than HepG2 and V79 cells. At concentrations = IC20-40, the compounds studied did not induce DNA strand breaks either in human cells HepG2 or in cells Caco-2. Incubation of HepG2 and Caco- 2 cells in the presence of the whole scale of concentrations of carvacrol or thymol led in both cases to a significant protection of the cells studied toward DNA strand breaks induced by a potent oxidant hydrogen peroxide

Ed. Note: Hydrogen peroxide is a relatively dangerous oxidative radical found in human physiology. This study notes that components of Thyme and Oregano essential oils have DNA protective effects through their anti-oxidant capacity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Anti-Microbial Action of Cinnamon Essential Oil Studied

The potent anti-bacterial action of Cinnamon essential oil is examined in these two studies. The first Chinese study notes the overall antibiotic activity, with cinnamaldehyde being found the primary active component. The second makes an important point that essential oils can reduce the amount of pharmaceutical antibiotic necessary to control a particular microbe AND the use of essential oils may not upset the balance of 'good' and 'bad' intestinal flora, as can happen with conventional medicine.

Antimicrobial activities of cinnamon oil and cinnamaldehyde (a major component of Cinnamon essential oil) from the Chinese medicinal herb Cinnamomum cassia Blume.

Ooi LS, Li Y, Kam SL, Wang H, Wong EY, Ooi VE.

of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.

Both Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl. and Cinnamomum cassia Blume are collectively called Cortex Cinnamonmi for their medicinal cinnamon bark. Cinnamomum verum is more popular elsewhere in the world, whereas C. cassia is a well known traditional Chinese medicine. An analysis of hydro-distilled Chinese cinnamon oil and pure cinnamaldehyde by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry revealed that cinnamaldehyde is the major component comprising 85% in the essential oil and the purity of cinnamaldehyde in use is high (> 98%). Both oil and pure cinnamaldehyde of C. cassia were equally effective in inhibiting the growth of various isolates of bacteria including Gram-positive (1 isolate, Staphylococcus aureus), and Gram-negative (7 isolates, E. coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Samonella typhymurium), and fungi including yeasts (four species of Candida, C. albicans, C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, and C. krusei), filamentous molds (4 isolates, three Aspergillus spp. and one Fusarium sp.) and dermatophytes (three isolates, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton rubrum and T. mentagraphytes). Their minimum inhibition concentrations (MIC) as determined by agar dilution method varied only slightly. The MICs of both oil and cinnamaldehyde for bacteria ranged from 75 microg/ml to 600 microg/ml, for yeasts from 100 microg/ml to 450 microg/ml, for filamentous fungi from 75 microg/ml to 150 microg/ml, and for dermatophytes from 18.8 microg/ml to 37.5 microg/ml. The antimicrobial effectiveness of C. cassia oil and its major constituent is comparable and almost equivalent, which suggests that the broad-spectrum antibiotic activities of C. cassia oil are due to cinnamaldehyde. The relationship between structure and function of the main components of cinnamon oil is also discussed.

Trans-Cinnamaldehyde from Cinnamomum zeylanicum Bark Essential Oil Reduces the Clindamycin Resistance of Clostridium difficile in vitro.

Shahverdi AR, Monsef-Esfahani HR, Tavasoli F, Zaheri A, Mirjani R.

Dept. of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran Univ. of Medical Sciences, 14174 Tehran, Iran.

Therapy with antimicrobial drugs, such as clindamycin, that perturb the intestinal flora but fail to inhibit growth of other microorganisms can permit the proliferation of Clostridium difficile and the elaboration of exotoxin. Therefore, there has been increasing interest in the use of inhibitors of antibiotic resistance for use in combination therapy. The essential oil of Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark enhanced the bactericidal activity of clindamycin and decreased the minimum inhibitory concentration of clindamycin required for a toxicogenic strain of C. difficile. Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) analysis of the essential oil separated a fraction (R(f)= 0.54) that was the most effective at enhancing the clindamycin antimicrobial activity. Using gas liquid chromatography and known standards, the active fraction was identified as trans-cinnamaldehyde (3-phenyl-2-Propenal). Combinations of clindamycin and trans-cinnamaldehyde were tested to determine the fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) index by conventional checkerboard titration. The FIC index for C. difficile was found to be 0.312, which confirmed the synergistic actions of clindamycin and trans-cinnamaldehyde. The presence of 20 mug/mL of trans-cinnamaldehyde decreased the MIC of clindamycin for C. difficile 16-fold, from 4.0 to 0.25 mug/mL. These results signify that low concentrations of trans-cinnamaldehyde elevate the antimicrobial action of clindamycin, suggesting a possible clinical benefit for utilizing these natural products for combination therapy against C. difficile.

Editor's Note: Cinnamon essential oil is VERY potent. It can be injested, though this may be best in a cellulose capsule as it can easily burn mucous membranes. Cinnamon oil should not be applied to the skin (except perhaps at a low dilution to the soles of the feet) and should not be used alone in an essential oil diffuser.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ever Wondered If You Could Eat Ylang Ylang Essential Oil?

Safety assessment of Ylang-Ylang (Cananga spp.) as a food ingredient.

Burdock GA, Carabin IG.

Burdock Group, 2001 9th Avenue Suite 301, Vero Beach, FL 32960, United States.

Ylang-Ylang oil is used in the food industry as a flavor ingredient. It is a complex chemical mixture in the form of an essential oil extracted by water or water-and-steam distillation from the fresh flowers of Cananga odorata Hook. f. & Thomson. Ylang-Ylang oil has been reported to cause dermal sensitization reactions in animals and humans, but it is unclear what constituent(s) within the essential oil comprise the offending agent(s) and whether some Ylang-Ylang oils that have had certain constituent(s) removed are any less prone to cause such allergic reactions. There is no indication in the literature that food exposure to Ylang-Ylang oil has caused allergic reactions. One subchronic inhalation toxicity study, involving Ylang-Ylang oil as part of a larger fragrance raw materials mixture, gave no indication of causing adverse effects, but the relevance to risk assessment of oral food flavoring use exposures is likely minimal. No further toxicity data for Ylang-Ylang oil have been reported. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Ylang-Ylang oil has a long history of fragrance and food flavoring use, with no indication that its estimated consumption from food flavoring use (0.0001mg/kg/day) has led to any adverse human health effects. These data indicate that at the current level of intake as a food ingredient, Ylang-Ylang oil does not pose a health risk to humans.

Editor's Note: This brings up the subject of taking essential oils internally, which we are often asked about. Our essential oils are not labeled as food ingredients or dietary suppliments. We are investigating this as an option; mostly this has to do with following procedures and protocols of the FDA and other governmental agencies, along with new labeling requirements.

In much of Europe, essential oils are commonly injested as part of a strict protocol designed by a doctor or licenced health professional. One needs to truly be aware of the safety of the oils being used. Many are quite benign, like Ylang Ylang described above. Others can be toxic - Wintergreen and Sage are commonly available, but should never be ingested. If you choose to ingest essential oils, you MUST be certain you know what you are doing, and have had the input from a natural health professional versed in medical aromatherapy. Contact us if you are in need of help finding such a person!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lavender Essential Oil Stops Mice From Fighting - Really!

Anticonflict effects of lavender oil and identification of its active constituents.

Umezu T, Nagano K, Ito H, Kosakai K, Sakaniwa M, Morita M.

Environmental Chemistry Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0053, Japan.

The pharmacological effects of lavender oil were investigated using two conflict tests in ICR mice, and then the active constituents were identified. Lavender oil produced significant anticonflict effects at 800 and 1600 mg/kg in the Geller conflict test and at 800 mg/kg in the Vogel conflict test, suggesting that the oil has an anti-anxiety effect. Analysis using GC/MS revealed that lavender oil contains 26 constituents, among which alpha-pinene (ratio, 0.22%), camphene (0.06%), beta-myrcene (5.33%), p-cymene (0.3%), limonene (1.06%), cineol (0.51%), linalool (26.12%), borneol (1.21%), terpinene-4-ol (4.64%), linalyl acetate (26.32%), geranyl acetate (2.14%) and caryophyllene (7.55%) were identified. We examined the effects of linalool, linalyl acetate, borneol, camphene, cineol, terpinen-4-ol, alpha-pinene and beta-myrcene using the Geller and Vogel conflict tests in ICR mice. Cineol, terpinen-4-ol, alpha-pinene and beta-myrcene did not produce any significant anticonflict effects in the Geller test. Linalyl acetate did not produce any significant anticonflict effects in either test. Both borneol and camphene at 800 mg/kg produced significant anticonflict effects in the Geller, but not in the Vogel conflict test. Linalool, a major constituent of lavender oil, produced significant anticonflict effects at 600 and 400 mg/kg in the Geller and Vogel tests, respectively, findings that were similar to those of lavender oil. Thus, we concluded that linalool is the major pharmacologically active constituent involved in the anti-anxiety effect of lavender oil.

Editor's Note: It has long been known that the aroma of lavender oil can reduce anxiety, an effect we've noted many times ourselves while sitting at the computer all day :-) What's particularly interesting is that Linalool has been found to be the component that produces the majority of this effect. Linalool is found in other essential oils as well, particularly the Linalool chemotypes of Basil and Thyme essential oils - both 'sweeter' varieties than others of the same plant species.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Basil Essential Oil Shows DNA Protective Effects

Protective effect of basil (Basil c.t. Linalool Essential Oil) against oxidative DNA damage and mutagenesis

Beri? T, Nikoli? B, Stanojevi? J, Vukovi?-Ga?i? B, Kne?evi?-Vuk?evi? J

Faculty of Biology, Laboratory for Microbiology, University of Belgrade, Studentski trg 16, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia.

Mutagenic and antimutagenic properties of essential oil (EO) of basil and its major constituent Linalool (ed. note: this is the type of Basil oil carried at Ananda), reported to possess antioxidative properties, were examined in microbial tests. In Salmonella/microsome and Escherichia. coli WP2 reversion assays both derivatives (0.25-2.0mul/plate) showed no mutagenic effect. Salmonella. typhimurium TA98, TA100 and TA102 strains displayed similar sensitivity to both basil derivatives as non-permeable E. coli WP2 strains IC185 and IC202 oxyR. Moreover, the toxicity of basil derivatives to WP2 strains did not depend on OxyR function. The reduction of t-BOOH-induced mutagenesis by EO and Linalool (30-60%) was obtained in repair proficient strains of the E. coli K12 assay (Nikoli?, B., Stanojevi?, J., Miti?, D., Vukovi?-Gaci?, B., Knezevi?-Vukcevi?, J., Simi?, D., 2004. Comparative study of the antimutagenic potential of vitamin E in different E. coli strains. Mutat. Res. 564, 31-38), as well as in E. coli WP2 IC202 strain. EO and Linalool reduced spontaneous mutagenesis in mismatch repair deficient E. coli K12 strains (27-44%). In all tests, antimutagenic effect of basil derivatives was comparable with that obtained with model antioxidant vitamin E. Linalool and vitamin E induced DNA strand breaks in Comet assay on S. cerevisiae 3A cells, but at non-genotoxic concentrations (0.075 and 0.025mug/ml, respectively) they reduced the number of H(2)O(2)-induced comets (45-70% Linalool and 80-93% vitamin E).

Obtained results indicate that antigenotoxic potential of basil derivatives could be attributed to their antioxidative properties.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Blending Essential Oils: Aromatherapy for Aging Skin

Pure essential oils are found in many of the world?s finest beauty care preparations for mature skin, with very good reason. Known effects of essential oils include stimulation of cellular metabolism, tissue regeneration, antioxidant action, anti-inflammatory effects, and hormone-like activity. These benefits form the therapeutic foundation for topical support of the health and beauty of aging skin. And while essential oils used in natural skin care many not sound as exclusive as some fancy laboratory-made concoctions from Europe, their results can certainly be as profound. The added plus being you can make a blend precisely suited to your skin?s needs at a fraction of the cost of the high-end European imports. All the ingredients you?ll require are often available at your local health food store, with the more exotic items found on the internet from providers of therapeutic-grade aromatherapy supplies.

What makes essential oils and their accompanying carrier oils so effective for natural skin care? It happens that their chemical structures are highly-compatible with that of our skin cells. Essential oils are easily absorbed through the dermal layers and even through the skin?s individual cell walls. This makes them extremely simple to create and use your own formulas. Just mix each chosen essential oil into one or more carrier oils (which have their own therapeutic effects as well) at the recommended concentrations, then apply regularly for best results. The carrier oils will do just as the name implies ? ?carry? the essential oils more deeply into the skin, and prevent them from being quickly evaporated into the air (as a perfume might be).

In describing the ingredients, we?ll start with the carrier oils (also known as ?base? oils). These natural seed and nut oils will make up the bulk of any skin care formula. There are a great many carrier oils to choose from for mature skin support: Avocado ? hydrating, and nutritive, with a medium consistency, avocado oil is most often included at about 1/5 of the total base oil mixture. Apricot Kernel ? Excellent for dry skin, also for healing damaged or irritated skin; can make up to 100% of the base oil. Borage ? Used as a small (5-15%) portion of the base oil mixture; supplies important fatty acid nutrients, which also act to calm inflammation. May be interchanged with Evening Primrose oil, though the Evening Primrose should be used in slightly larger amounts than Borage (up to 25%). Hazelnut ? This is likely the most common carrier in skin care blends. It has a relatively thin consistency, and is best used by those with oily skin conditions. It is mildly astringent, and should not exacerbate trouble with overactive sebaceous glands. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Rosehip Seed ? this oil contains a wealth of therapeutic properties, including Retin-A like compounds that increase skin cell turnover without the drying side effects found in pharmaceutical preparations. In summary, a good base oil for mature skin might be 70% Apricot Kernel, 15% Rosehip and 15% Evening Primrose. If the skin is dry, reduce the Apricot Kernel to 50% and add 20% Avocado. If the skin is oily, use Hazelnut in place of Apricot Kernel.

And now for the magic ingredients, the essential oils: Carrot Seed essential oil is distilled from the seeds of Wild Carrot, Daucus carota. It is considered one of the most potent revitalizing essential oils for the skin. It is chosen particularly as a remedy for dull, pallid and lifeless skin where one?s lifestyle and/or environment may have taken their toll on the skin?s vibrancy. Carrot seed has a smooth, earthy aroma that will blend well with many other oils. Also for revitalizing the skin, Rosemary Verbenone can be highly effective ? this is a type of rosemary essential oil containing a higher amount of regenerative ketones than common rosemary. The essential oil ?displays its main activity in the dermis (the middle layer of the skin), where it stimulates the metabolic functions, circulation, and elimination of waste products? according to Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt in his Advanced Aromatherapy.

Clary Sage essential oil is noted as being particularly suited to natural beauty care. It contains sclareol, which mimics the effects of estrogen; this is noted by one expert author as the primary reason it helps with skin aging. It may also be the reason Clary Sage is said to regulate the skin?s secretions, bringing balance to both over-dry and over-oily skin. Elsewhere, it is noted as relaxing ? even mildly euphoric ? which may also contribute to its positive effects for wrinkles. Sweet Fennel is another ?estrogenic? essential oil, called for by Valerie Worwood in The Complete Book of Essential Oils as an ingredient in wrinkle-preventative blends for all ages.

Sea Buckthorn Berry CO2 (a cold-processed essential oil) is a gentle oil with a pleasingly sweet aroma. Sea Buckthorn contains significant amounts of essential fatty acids along with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. This specialty skin care essential oil is rich in carotenes, which likely impart its rejuvenative effects. It is noted as a particularly effective anti-wrinkle and skin softening agent. Another specialty oil for mature skin care is Cistus, also known as Rock Rose. The oil is distilled from a plant grown in hot, sun-drenched regions, and can be added to blends for its particular effect of firming the skin. It also has astringent properties which can support clearing of oily skin; further, it is mentioned in blends for firming around the eyes ? when used near the eyes, any blend should contain no more than .5% essential oils as to not be irritating in this sensitive area.

Of course no discussion of skin care and aromatherapy would be complete without Lavender. True lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) can be included in aromatherapy blends for skin at any age. It may be especially supportive of aging skin through its combination of anti-inflammatory, balancing, and regenerative actions. Lavender is also well-known for its relaxing effects, and its support for stress reduction may quickly result in improving your skin?s appearance. For those whom enjoy its floral aroma, Lavender may be added in whatever concentration one chooses to impart its aromatic quality to the formula. For an even stronger anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect, use Helichrysum essential oil (also known as Everlasting or Immortelle). Helichrysum may be the most profoundly healing essential oil for damaged skin, often called for in blends for healing wounds or reducing the appearance of scars. If you are combining aromatherapy with other treatments such as microdermabrasion, Helichrysum would be an important ingredient in your blend.

The formulas for therapeutic care for mature skin are fairly straightforward. Oftentimes, you can start with 10 drops of each essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. For example, if you have four total ounces of base oil, you could use 40 drops of each desired essential oil as a starting point. Much more essential oil than this is rarely better; in fact, many oils work best at low concentrations, and some can potentially irritate the skin at high doses. Further, if you are combining several essential oils together in one blend, try not to go over a 5% total concentration of essential oils (approximately 30 drops per ounce) ? the face and neck are relatively sensitive areas, and will respond best to small amounts of nature?s ?active? ingredients. If you are not working with a recipe, you can start with equal amounts of each essential oil, and adjust according to your perceived potency of each oil; some oils will have more powerful aromas than others, and you could likely do with slightly less in your overall blend. You can also adjust according to your aromatic preferences as well, creating a formula that not only supports your skin?s health and metabolism, but smells lovely too.

While these are many of the oils favored for women?s beauty care, similar recipes may be used by men as well. A more masculine formula can be created using essential oils from woods ? Australian Sandalwood, for example, can be added for both its therapeutic and aromatic properties; Frankincense and Myrrh are also noted for their positive effects for aging skin and have warm, earthy aromas. Further, adding oils purely for their aromatic beauty is always an option. There are only a few oils that should not be applied to the face that are commonly used in aromatherapy: Cinnamon, Oregano, Clove and Red Thyme; cold-pressed citrus oils and Angelica Root oil are phototoxic, and should not be applied to skin that will be exposed to sunlight in the following 72 hours. If you?re not sure about a particular essential oil, check with a reliable resource ? otherwise, feel free to enhance your blends to suit your aromatic taste.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Frankincense Essential Oil Studied for Anti-microbial Action

Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of some oleogum resin essential oils from Boswellia spp. (commonly known as Franincense essential oils)

Dipartimento di Scienze di Sanità Pubblica, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, 41100, Modena, Italy

The chemical composition of Boswellia carteri (Frankincense essential oil, Somalia), B. papyrifera (Ethiopia), B. serrata (India) and B. rivae (Ethiopia) oleogum resin essential oils was investigated using GC-MS to identify chemotaxonomy marker components. Total ion current peak areas gave good approximations to relative concentrations based on GC-MS peak areas. B. carteri and B. serrata oleogum resin oils showed similar chemical profiles, with isoincensole and isoincensole acetate as the main diterpenic components. Both n-octanol and n-octyl acetate, along with the diterpenic components incensole and incensole acetate, were the characteristic compounds of B. papyrifera oleogum resin oil. Hydrocarbon and oxygenated monoterpenes were the most abundant classes of compounds identified in the B. rivae oleogum resin oil. The antimicrobial activities of the essential oils were individually evaluated against different microorganisms including fungi, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria strains. The essential oils with the best activity against fungal strains were those obtained from B. carteri and B. papyrifera with MIC values as low as 6.20 microg/ml. The essential oil of B. rivae resin showed the best activity against C. albicans with a MIC value of 2.65 microg/ml.

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