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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hemp Oil Improves Dermatitis, Better than Flax for Essential Fats

Hemp oil is really underutilized as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. It provides very high levels of essential fats, that are beneficial when ingested and used topically. Omega-3 fats are highly regarded for their inflammation-taming properties, and are important for a significant amount of bodily processes to work properly. These two studies reveal some important therapeutic aspects of ingesting hemp oil ~ Hemp improves the profile of essential fats in the blood, and works better than Flax seed oil (which, while high in essential fats, does not have a ratio of 3, 6 and 9 omega fats that is as balanced for human physiology). Ingestion of hemp oil also improved dermatitis symptoms in a number of study participants.

Study: Effects of hempseed and flaxseed oils on the profile of serum lipids, serum total and lipoprotein lipid concentrations and haemostatic factors.

Schwab US, Callaway JC, Erkkilä AT, Gynther J, Uusitupa MI, Järvinen T.Dept. of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland.

BACKGROUND: Both hempseed oil (HO) and flaxseed oil (FO) contain high amounts of essential fatty acids (FAs); i.e. linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3), but almost in opposite ratios. An excessive intake of one essential FA over the other may interfere with the metabolism of the other while the metabolisms of LA and ALA compete for the same enzymes. It is not known whether there is a difference between n-3 and n-6 FA of plant origin in the effects on serum lipid profile. AIM OF THE STUDY: To compare the effects of HO and FO on the profile of serum lipids and fasting concentrations of serum total and lipoprotein lipids, plasma glucose and insulin, and haemostatic factors in healthy humans. METHODS: Fourteen healthy volunteers participated in the study. A randomised, double-blind crossover design was used. The volunteers consumed HO and FO (30 ml/day) for 4 weeks each. The periods were separated by a 4-week washout period. RESULTS: The HO period resulted in higher proportions of both LA and gamma-linolenic acid in serum cholesteryl esters (CE) and triglycerides (TG) as compared with the FO period (P < 0.001), whereas the FO period resulted in a higher proportion of ALA in both serum CE and TG as compared with the HO period (P < 0.001). The proportion of arachidonic acid in CE was lower after the FO period than after the HO period (P < 0.05). The HO period resulted in a lower total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio compared with the FO period (P = 0.065). No significant differences were found between the periods in measured values of fasting serum total or lipoprotein lipids, plasma glucose, insulin or hemostatic factors. CONCLUSIONS: The effects of HO and FO on the profile of serum lipids differed significantly, with only minor effects on concentrations of fasting serum total or lipoprotein lipids, and no significant changes in concentrations of plasma glucose or insulin or in haemostatic factors.

Study: Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T.Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kuopio, Finland.

BACKGROUND: Hempseed oil is a rich and balanced source of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Anecdotal evidence indicated that dietary hempseed oil might be useful in treating symptoms of atopic dermatitis. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Dietary hempseed oil and olive oil were compared in a 20-week randomized, single-blind crossover study with atopic patients. Fatty acid profiles were measured in plasma triglyceride, cholesteryl and phospholipid fractions. A patient questionnaire provided additional information on skin dryness, itchiness and usage of dermal medications. Skin transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was also measured. RESULTS: Levels of both essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (18:2n6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n3), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA; 18:3n6) increased in all lipid fractions after hempseed oil, with no significant increases of arachidonic acid (20:4n6) in any lipid fractions after either oil. Intra-group TEWL values decreased (p=0.074), qualities of both skin dryness and itchiness improved (p=0.027) and dermal medication usage decreased (p=0.024) after hempseed oil intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary hempseed oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. It is suggested that these improvements resulted from the balanced and abundant supply of PUFAs in this hempseed oil.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Keeping Mosquitos Away With Essential Oils

It's summer time again and along with it comes the host of those little winged creatures, buzzing around our ears and feasting on our flesh. No, it doesn't sound so wonderful, yet somehow neither does the thought of spraying DEET on ourselves, and our children's skin. Thankfully, many wonderful natural alternatives are available -- and the active ingredients in most of these are essential oils. In fact, some essential oils have been tested in the laboratory to be up to 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Your own natural formulation is exceptionally easy to make, and that way you'll find the base that suits your skin most. Many folks like using natural carrier oils on their skin, or something then like a witch hazel, rather than the semi-synthetic cream bases most often found.

Besides preventing insects from being attracted to you and your children personally, diffusing essential oils is a perfect way to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects from your living space. The same scent they find distasteful insect repelling lotions can also be diffused into the air. This can also work for flies, gnats and other winged, buzzing creatures. And thankfully most people find they enjoy the scents used for these purposes, especially in the summer time as they are often bright uplifting lemony aromas.

If you'd like to make a topical application, first select the base. the three most common choices are: an unscented lotion base, a water and witch hazel mixture, or any aromatherapy carrier oil. You can even add essential oils to your sunscreens, creating a wonderful dual-purpose blend. witch hazel is an unscented water-based plant extract that will help preserve your blend over the course of the summer; it is inexpensive and easy to find. A blend in water of witch hazel and water is very convenient, as it can be sprayed on the skin as well as your clothing, without worry of staining. The water and the witch hazel formula is made of one part witch hazel to three parts water; so if you were going to make 4 ounces of base, you would mix one else of the witch hazel with 3 ounces of water.

There are many essential oil formulations considered effective for repelling insects. The most common one used around the world is citronella, however in light of recent studies, there are certainly more effective oils available. A simple blend of thyme, lemongrass lavender and peppermint is described by Valerie Ann Woorwood in "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy": 4 drops thyme linalool, 8 drops lemongrass, 4 drops lavender and 4 drops peppermint. This blend can be added to a lotion or carrier oil base, or the witch hazel formula, at the dilution of four drops per ounce.

Geranium and cedar wood essential oils are also very popular ingredients in natural insect repellent's, and can work excellently in combination with citronella for a very effective formula. To each ounce of base, add 80 drops of citronella, 15 drops of peppermint, 10 drops of cedar, seven drops of lemongrass, and two drops of geranium. This is an extra strength recipe that can also be used in a diffuser. A nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser will work best to keep insects from your living space, as it provides the highest concentration of the essential oils in the air. If applying this formula topically to children, dilute the essential oil concentration in half for preteens, and to one quarter for children over two this recipe is not recommended for the youngest ones, as the peppermint can be too strong. For the youngest children, use a one half percent each concentration of geranium and citronella. This blend would also make a wonderful diffuser recipe -- you may vary the ratios of these oils to suit your nose and to the distaste of the little winged creatures.

Perhaps the most underused essential oil for insect repellent action is that of catnip. Catnip and essential oil is quite potent, and has a very unique scent. It has been studied in comparison to DEET to have 10 times the efficacy. Deep is found in insect repellent formulas at a concentration of between five and 20%. With 10 times the efficacy, eating using only 2% catnip the oil in your recipe should give you a natural creation as strong as the most powerful extra strength inorganic formulas. You can add catnip oil to either of the above recipes, or use it alone if the aroma suits you. Snap oil should be not used with small children, and some folks may find their skin sensitive to it. As with any essential oil, it is best to start with lower concentrations and work up to ensure a safe and healthy result.

Essential oils are also a fantastic way to sooth insect bites once they've already occurred. The anti-inflammatory of both lavender and blue tansy can see essential oils are commonly used for such purposes. Lavender can be used neat, applying one drop directly on the bite. Blue tansy essential oil should be diluted to less than 3% for best effect, as many aromatherapists believe it's anti-inflammatory and itch relieving properties will work best at these low dilutions.

While DEET has been around for awhile, it's still a synthetically produced solvent chemical. It's nice to have a natural options of essential oils for you and your family, and these recipes are so easy to make and use. Many of these essential oils are highly regarded for healing effects in regard to other health issues. Geranium is a well-known anti-fungal agent, and lemongrass is known for its antiviral action. These oils are also used in esoteric aromatherapy as antidepressants -- so while you're keeping the bugs away, you'll likely be putting a smile on your face too.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Essential Oil Vapors Studied for Sedative Effects

It appears that mice get the same sort of jitters from caffeine that humans do. And they respond in a statistically significant manner to the sedative effects of essential oil vapors (as produced by aromatherapy diffusers). Here are a few studies of the effects ~ note that the effects of Lavender are confirmed, along with Spikenard.

Study: Sedative effects of vapor inhalation of agarwood oil and spikenard extract and identification of their active components.

Takemoto H, Ito M, Shiraki T, Yagura T, Honda G. Department of Pharmacognosy, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Science, Kyoto University, 46-29 Yoshida-Shimoadachi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan.

Agarwood oil and spikenard extract were examined for their sedative activity using a spontaneous vapor administration system. It was shown that inhalation of agarwood oil vapor sedated mice. The main volatile constituents of the oil were found to be benzylacetone [agarwood oil from a Hong Kong market (1)], or alpha-gurjunene and (+)-calarene [agarwood oil made in Vietnam (2)]. A hexane extract of spikenard contained a lot of calarene, and its vapor inhalation had a sedative effect on mice. Individual principles benzylacetone, calarene, and alpha-gurjunene were administered to mice, which reproduced the result of the corresponding oil or extract. However, the most effective dose of the compounds was lower than their original content in the oil and extract (benzylacetone 0.1%, calarene 0.17%, alpha-gurjunene 1.5%).

Study: Stimulative and sedative effects of essential oils upon inhalation in mice.

Lim WC, Seo JM, Lee CI, Pyo HB, Lee BC. R&D Center, Hanbul Cosmetics Co. Ltd., 72-7 Yongsung-ri, Samsung-Myun, Chungbuk 369-830, Korea.

This study investigated the stimulative or sedative effects of inhaling fragrant essential oils (EOs) by using a forced swimming test (FST) with mice. This behavioral test is commonly used to measure the effects of antidepressant drugs. The inhalation by mice of EOs, such as ginger oil (p<0.05), thyme oil (p<0.05), peppermint oil (p<0.05), cypress oil (p<0.01) lavender oil (p<0.01) and hyssop oil (p<0.01) increased the immobile state in mice that were treated with caffeine. The results of this study indicate that the inhalation of essential oils may induce stimulative or sedative effects in mice.

Study: Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects upon inhalation.

Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Jäger W, Plank C, Dietrich H. Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Vienna, Austria.

Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects influence the motility of mice in inhalation studies under standardized conditions. A significant drop in the motility of mice was registered following exposure to these fragrances. The same results were achieved when the mice were artificially induced into overagitation by intraperitoneal application of caffeine and subsequently subjected to inhalation of fragrance compounds and essential oils. These results proved the sedative effects of these fragrants via inhalative exposure in low concentrations. Blood samples were taken from the mice after a 1-h inhalation period. Chromatographic and spectroscopic methods were used to detect and characterize the actual effective compounds after solid-phase extraction. Serum concentrations of 42 different substances, including fragrance compounds, were found in low ranges (ng/mL serum). The results contribute to the correct interpretation of the term aromatherapy (i.e., a stimulating or sedative effect on the behaviour of individuals only upon inhalation of fragrance compounds).

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Anti-Cancer Effects of Sandalwood Essential Oil Studied

Sandalwood oil and paste has long been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for the treatment of skin inflammations. Several studies have now described the chemoprotective (anti-cancer) action of sandalwood oil and its chemical constituents. The protective effects occcur for skin exposed both to ultra-violet radiation or exposed to known cancer-causing chemical agents. While Indian sandalwood is becoming more rare and expensive, Australian and Pacific Island sandalwood oils are more reasonably priced. They have also been favorably compared to the Indian variety under chemical analysis, containing significant amounts of 'santalols', one of the unique active components in sandalwood essential oil. Here are a few studies describing the effects - for practical application, sandalwood oil can be included in a plain lotion base or carrier oil formula at a 1-3% concentration and applied before and after sun exposure. Sea Buckthorn essential oil is also considered protective for sunlight exposure.

Study: Effects of alpha-santalol on proapoptotic caspases and p53 expression in UVB irradiated mouse skin.

Arasada BL, Bommareddy A, Zhang X, Bremmon K, Dwivedi C. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

BACKGROUND: Cancer chemoprevention by naturally occurring agents, especially phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins has shown promising results against various malignancies in a number of studies both under in vitro and in vivo conditions. One such phytochemical, alpha-santalol, a major component of sandalwood oil, is effective in preventing skin cancer in both chemically and UVB-induced skin cancer development in CD-1, SENCAR and SKH-1 mice; however, the mechanism of its efficacy is not fully understood. The objective of the present investigation was to study the effects of alpha-santalol on apoptosis proteins and p53 in UVB-induced skin tumor development in SKH-1 mice to elucidate the mechanism of action. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Female SKH-1 mice were divided into two groups: Group 1, which served as control received topical application of acetone (0.1 ml) one hour before UVB treatment; Group 2 received alpha-santalol (0.1 ml, 5% w/v in acetone, topical) one hour prior to UVB treatment. UVB-induced promotion was continued for 30 weeks. RESULTS: Pre-treatment with alpha-santalol one hour prior to UVB exposure significantly (p <>
Study: Chemopreventive effects of alpha-santalol (a primary component of Sandalwood essential oil) on ultraviolet B radiation-induced skin tumor development in SKH-1 hairless mice.

Dwivedi C, Valluri HB, Guan X, Agarwal R. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007 USA

Recent studies from our laboratory have shown the chemopreventive effects of alpha-santalol against 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA) initiated and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) promoted skin tumor development in mice. The objective of the present investigation was to study the effects of alpha-santalol on ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation-induced skin tumor development and UVB-caused increase in epidermal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in female hairless SKH-1 mice. For the tumor studies, 180 mice were divided into three groups of 60 mice each, and each group was divided into two subgroups of 30 mice. The first subgroup served as control and was treated topically on the dorsal skin with acetone. The second subgroup served as experimental and was treated topically on the dorsal skin with alpha-santalol (5%, w/v in acetone). The tumorigenesis in the first group was initiated with UVB radiation and promoted with TPA; in the second group it was initiated with DMBA and promoted with UVB radiation; and in the third group it was both initiated and promoted with UVB radiation. In each case, the study was terminated at 30 weeks. Topical application of alpha-santalol significantly (P<0.05)>

Study: Chemopreventive effects of sandalwood essential oil on skin papillomas in mice.

Dwivedi C, Abu-Ghazaleh A. College of Pharmacy, South Dakota State University, Brookings 57007-0099, USA

The essential oil, emulsion or paste of sandalwood (Santalum album L) has been used in India as an ayurvedic medicinal agent for the treatment of inflammatory and eruptive skin diseases. In this investigation, the chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil (5% in acetone, w/v) on 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-(DMBA)-initiated and 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate(TPA)-promoted skin papillomas, and TPA-induced ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in CD1 mice were studied. Sandalwood oil treatment significantly decreased papilloma incidence by 67%, multiplicity by 96%, and TPA-induced ODC activity by 70%. This essential oil could be an effective chemopreventive agent against skin cancer.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Essential Oils Studied for Pain Relief

Essential oils have long been used as the 'active' ingredients in massage oils to relieve pain an improve circulation. We're particularly fond of Helichrysum essential oil for its dramatic pain relieving effects. Researchers have been studying essential oils for their effects on arthritic conditions. Note that the results do not show long-term healing action with the essential oils used; however, the oils chosen are noted for temporary results, not long term regeneration. For this, again, we recommend Helichrysum. One of our favorite blends is the combination of Helichrysum, Cypress and Ginger for its warming and regenerative actions. Here's the studies:

Study: An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong.

Yip YB, Tam AC. 33A Holt Street, North Ryde, Sydney, NSW 2113, Australia.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy of an aromatic essential oil (1% Zingiber officinale and 0.5% Citrus sinesis) massage among the elderly with moderate-to-severe knee pain. METHOD: Fifty-nine older persons were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental study group from the Community Centre for Senior Citizens, Hong Kong. The intervention was six massage sessions with ginger and orange oil over a 3-week period. The placebo control group received the same massage intervention with olive oil only and the control group received no massage. Assessment was done at baseline, post 1-week and post 4 weeks after treatment. Changes from baseline to the end of treatment were assessed on knee pain intensity, stiffness level and physical functioning (by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index) and quality of life (by SF-36). RESULTS: There were significant mean changes between the three time-points within the intervention group on three of the outcome measures: knee pain intensity (p=0.02); stiffness level (p=0.03); and enhancing physical function (p=0.04) but these were not apparent with the between-groups comparison (p=0.48, 0.14 and 0.45 respectively) 4 weeks after the massage. The improvement of physical function and pain were superior in the intervention group compared with both the placebo and the control group at post 1-week time (both p=0.03) but not sustained at post 4 weeks (p=0.45 and 0.29). The changes in quality of life were not statistically significant for all three groups. CONCLUSION: The aroma-massage therapy seems to have potential as an alternative method for short-term knee pain relief.

Study: An experimental study on the effectiveness of acupressure with aromatic lavender essential oil for sub-acute, non-specific neck pain in Hong Kong.

Yip YB, Tse SH. School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong, PR China.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy of acupressure using an aromatic essential oil (lavender) as an add-on treatment for pain relief and enhancing physical functional activities among adults with sub-acute non-specific neck pain. DESIGN: Experimental study design. SETTING: The Telehealth clinic and the community centre, Hong Kong. INTERVENTION: A course of 8-session manual acupressure with lavender oil over a 3 week period. OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes from baseline to the end of treatment were assessed on neck pain intensity [by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)]; stiffness level; stress level; neck lateral flexion, forward flexion and extension in cm, and interference with daily activities. RESULTS: The baseline VAS score for the intervention and control groups were 5.12 and 4.91 out of 10, respectively (P = 0.72). One month after the end of treatment, compared to the control group, the manual acupressure group had 23% reduced pain intensity (P = 0.02), 23% reduced neck stiffness (P = 0.001), 39% reduced stress level (P = 0.0001), improved neck flexion (P = 0.02), neck lateral flexion (P = 0.02), and neck extension (P = 0.01). However, improvements in functional disability level were found in both the manual acupressure group (P = 0.001) and control group (P = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that eight sessions of acupressure with aromatic lavender oil were an effective method for short-term neck pain relief.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Basil Essential Oils Studied for Acne Care

Several essential oils exhibit antimicrobial properties that are effective in the care of acne. They seem to produce healing effects similar to synthetic preparations, but without side effects like drying and peeling. Here is a study describing the action of Basil essential oils; other oils commonly used for acne treatment include Tea Tree and Myrtle ~ these are often included in Hazelnut oil, or a non-oil cream base at a 5% concentration.

Study: Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes.

Viyoch J, Pisutthanan N, Faikreua A, Nupangta K, Wangtorpol K, Ngokkuen J. Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Naresuan University, 65000 Phitsanulok, Thailand.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsions, on in vitro activity against Propionibacterium acnes. An agar disc diffusion method was employed for screening antimicrobial activity of the essential oils of Ocimum basilicum L. (sweet basil), Ocimum sanctum L. (holy basil) and Ocimum americanum L. (hoary basil) against P. acnes. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of the basil oils were determined using an agar dilution assay. The obtained results indicated that the MIC values of sweet basil and holy basil oils were 2.0% and 3.0% v/v, respectively, whereas hoary basil oil did not show activity against P. acnes at the highest concentration tested (5.0% v/v). Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis revealed that methyl chavicol (93.0%) was the major compound in sweet basil oil, and eugenol (41.5%), gamma-caryophyllene (23.7%) and methyl eugenol (11.8%) were major compounds in holy basil oil. Hoary basil oil contained high amounts of geraniol (32.0%) and neral (27.2%) and small amounts of methyl chavicol (0.8%). The Oil-in-water (o/w) micro-emulsions of individual basil oils with concentrations corresponding to their MIC values were formulated. The stable o/w micro-emulsion system for basil oil consisted of 55.0% v/v water phase, 10.0% v/v oil phase (2.0 or 3.0% v/v sweet basil or 3.0% v/v holy basil oil plus 7.0% v/v isopropyl myristate), 29.2% v/v polysorbate 80 and 5.8% v/v 1,2-propylene glycol. Hydroxyethylcellulose at a concentration of 0.5% w/v was used as thickening agent. According to the disc diffusion assay, the formulations containing sweet basil oil exhibited higher activity against P. acnes than those containing holy basil oil, and the thickened formulations tended to give a lower activity against P. acnes than the non-thickened formulations. The prepared micro-emulsions were stable after being tested by a heat-cool cycling method for five cycles. These findings indicate the possibility to use Thai sweet and holy basil oil in suitable formulations for acne skin care.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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