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Aromatherapy Research News

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Study: Eucalyptus Oil Stimulates Immune Reponse

In a study recently published in 'BioMed Central Immunology', Eucalyptus essential oil (the species was not defined) was shown to stimulate immune response both in-vitro and in-vivo. The was apparently designed to drive further investigation in the subject, and does not give any details on how one might go on to utlize the information. However, Eucalyptus essential oils have long been prescribed by aromatherapists for support of lung funtion during infection. Eucalyptus has not been shown in the lab to be an especially strong anti-microbial agent; though from the results here, one may infer the reason Eucalyptus is so widely used for infectious disease - it improves phagocytic activity (the activity of white blood cells consuming foreign invaders). Further it appears to have decreased toxic effects to bone marrow after chemotherapy.

These results may support the claims made for Niaouli (a tree similar to Eucalyptus) essential oil by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt in Advanced Aromatherapy - that this oil can dramatically support the immune system and decrease allergic response. Niaouli is prescribed to be rubbed in to the skin all over the body (some naturopaths suggest in the arm pits and on the thymus/sternum) after a warm shower when the pores are open. Blends of oils from the Myrtaceae family (Tea Tree, Ravensara, Eucalyptus, Niaouli) are likely effective together, and can be diffused regularly for immune support.

Study: Stimulatory effect of Eucalyptus essential oil on innate cell-mediated immune response.

Serafino A, Sinibaldi Vallebona P, AndrEucalyptus essential oilla F, Zonfrillo M, Mercuri L, Federici M, Rasi G, Garaci E, Pierimarchi P.

Besides few data concerning the antiseptic properties against a range of microbial agents and the anti-inflammatory potential both in vitro and in vivo, little is known about the influence of Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus essential oil) extract on the monocytic/macrophagic system, one of the primary cellular effectors of the immune response against pathogen attacks. The activities of this natural extract have mainly been recognized through clinical experience, but there have been relatively little scientific studies on its biological actions. Here we investigated whether Eucalyptus essential oil extract is able to affect the phagocytic ability of human monocyte derived macrophages (MDMs) in vitro and of rat peripheral blood monocytes/granulocytes in vivo in absence or in presence of immuno-suppression induced by the chemotherapeutic agent 5-fluorouracil (5-FU).

METHODS: Morphological activation of human MDMs was analysed by scanning electron microscopy. Phagocytic activity was tested: i) in vitro in Eucalyptus essential oil treated and untreated MDMs, by confocal microscopy after fluorescent beads administration; ii) in vivo in monocytes/granulocytes from peripheral blood of immuno-competent or 5-FU immuno-suppressed rats, after Eucalyptus essential oil oral administration, by flow cytometry using fluorescein-labelled E. coli. Cytokine release by MDMs was determined using the BD Cytometric Bead Array human Th1/Th2 cytokine kit.

RESULTS: Eucalyptus essential oil is able to induce activation of MDMs, dramatically stimulating their phagocytic response. Eucalyptus essential oil-stimulated internalization is coupled to low release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and requires integrity of the microtubule network, suggesting that Eucalyptus essential oil may act by means of complement receptor-mediated phagocytosis. Implementation of innate cell-mediated immune response was also observed in vivo after Eucalyptus essential oil administration, mainly involving the peripheral blood monocytes/granulocytes. The 5-FU/Eucalyptus essential oil combined treatment inhibited the 5-FU induced myelotoxicity and raised the phagocytic activity of the granulocytic/monocytic system, significantly decreased by (chemotherapy).

CONCLUSIONS: Our data, demonstrating that Eucalyptus oil extract is able to implement the innate cell-mediated immune response, provide scientific support for an additional use of this plant extract, besides those concerning its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and stimulate further investigations also using single components of this essential oil. This might drive development of a possible new family of immuno-regulatory agents, useful as adjuvant in immuno-suppressive pathologies, in infectious disease and after tumour chemotherapy.

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