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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frankincense Studies Show Anti-Cancer and Immunostimulant Effects

Frankincense, the resin (similar to tree sap) of the Olibanum trees of Africa, has been used as a healing agent for literally thousands of years. Both the resin and the essential oil distilled from the resin have been the subject of scientific studies. The studies have focused on the immunostimulant and anti-tumor (anti-cancer) effects of these substances. And while one of these studies below mentions the steam distilled essential oil, some of America's leading science-based aromatherapists believe the CO2 distilled variety to be the superior health-enhancing agent. It shows a chemical profile closer to the natural resin of the tree, yet is still very easy to work with in terms of essential oil blending, topical application and inhalation.

Here are a few selected study abstracts, which note that Frankincense stimulates lymphocyte transformation (essentially the immunne system preparing cells to fend of disease) and acts as a destroyer of tumors.

Study: Chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of frankincense oil.

Mikhaeil BR, Maatooq GT, Badria FA, Amer MM. Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, Mansoura 35516, Egypt.

The yield of steam distillation of frankincense essential oil (3%); and its physicochemical constants were determined. Capillary GC/MS technique was used for the analysis of the oil. Several oil components were identified based upon comparison of their mass spectral data with those of reference compounds published in literature or stored in a computer library. The oil was found to contain monoterpenes (13.1%), sesquiterpenes (1%), and diterpenes (42.5%). The major components of the oil were duva-3,9,13-trien-1,5alpha-diol-1-acetate (21.4%), octyl acetate (13.4%), o-methyl anisole (7.6%), naphthalene decahydro-1,1,4a-trimethyl-6-methylene-5-(3-methyl-2-pentenyl) (5.7%), thunbergol (4.1%), phenanthrene-7-ethenyl-1,2,3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,9,10,10a-dodecahydro-1,1,4a,7-tetramethyl (4.1%), alpha-pinene (3.1%), sclarene (2.9%), 9-cis-retinal (2.8%), octyl formate (1.4%), verticiol (1.2%) decyl acetate (1.2%), n-octanol (1.1%). The chemical profile of the oil is considered as a chemotaxonomical marker that confirmed the botanical and geographical source of the resin. Biologically, the oil exhibited a strong immunostimulant activity (90% lymphocyte transformation) when assessed by a lymphocyte proliferation assay.

Study: Immunomodulatory triterpenoids from the oleogum resin of Boswellia carterii Birdwood.

Badria FA, Mikhaeil BR, Maatooq GT, Amer MM. Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, 35516 Mansoura, Egypt.

The immunomodulatory bioassay-guided fractionation of the oleogum resin of frankincense (Boswellia carterii Birdwood) resulted in the isolation and identification of 9 compounds; palmitic acid and eight triterpenoids belonging to lupane, ursane, oleanane, and tirucallane skeleta were isolated form the resin. These triterpenoids are lupeol, beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl beta-boswellic acid, acetyl 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, acetyl-alpha-boswellic acid, 3-oxo-tirucallic acid, and 3-hydroxy-tirucallic acid. The structures of the isolated compounds were deduced based on spectroscopic evidences. The lymphocyte transformation assay of the isolated compounds proved that the total extract retained more activity than that of any of the purified compounds. (ed. note: 'purified compounds' means any of the single molecules isolated from Frankincense ~ the CO2 supercritical extract is not purified in this way; it contains a complex mixture of natural chemicals present in the resin).

Sudy: Anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities of triterpenoid, beta-boswellic acid.

Huang MT, Badmaev V, Ding Y, Liu Y, Xie JG, Ho CT. Laboratory for Cancer Research, College of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020, USA.

Boswellin (BE), a methanol extract of the gum resin exudate of Boswellia serrata, contains naturally occurring triterpenoids, beta-boswellic acid and its structural related derivatives, has been used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory and arthritic diseases. Topical application of BE to the backs of mice markedly inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced increases in skin inflammation, epidermal proliferation, the number of epidermal cell layers, and tumor promotion in 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-initiated mice. Feeding 0.2% of BE in the diet to CF-1 mice for 10-24 weeks reduced the accumulation of parametrial fat pad weight under the abdomen, and inhibited azoxymethane (AOM)-induced formation of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) by 46%. Addition of pure beta-boswellic acid, 3-O-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid, 11-keto-beta-boswellic acid or 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid to human leukemia HL-60 cell culture inhibited DNA synthesis in HL-60 cells in a dose-dependent manner with IC50 values ranging from 0.6 to 7.1 microM. These results indicate that beta-boswellic acid and its derivatives (the major constituents of Boswellin) have anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-hyperlipidemic activities.

*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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tea Tree Essential Oil Shown Effective Against Staph Bacteria

Staphylococcus bacteria are the cause of infection in many, many situations (ranging from acne, to life-threatening systemic and bronchial infections). MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of this bacteria has been dubbed 'the superbug' due to its challenging medical implications.

Many, many studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals describing the antibacterial action of Tea Tree essential oil. Tea tree is probably the most well known and widely used antibacterial essential oil bar none. It is inexpensive and very safe to use (though some find it's aroma not especially appealing. We have found very fresh Tea Tree oil to actually have a pleasing sent).

Tea tree appears to exert its antibacterial action by disrupting the integrity of cell membranes of the bacteria, causing 'leaks' in the cell walls to occur. Also, when individual chemicals were isolated from Tea Tree oil, these did not have as potent an effect as the complete oil (as is often the case with natural medicines). Due to the vigor of the MRSA bacteria, however, it has also been found that a blend of oils, also including Geranium, has been more effective. The blend is not available to the public however, as the researchers are preparing a commercial formula.

Here are a few abstracts and studies describing the actions of Tea Tree on varieties of Staph bacteria:

Abstract: Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial.

Halcón L, Milkus K.School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to be a major health concern worldwide. In particular, Staphylococcus aureus, both methicillin-resistant and -sensitive, are of concern in their ability to cause difficult skin and underlying tissue infections. Melaleuca alternifolia oil (tea tree oil), an essential oil, has demonstrated promising efficacy in treating these infections. Tea tree oil has been used for centuries as a botanical medicine, and has only in recent decades surfaced in the scientific literature as a promising adjunctive wound treatment. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and has demonstrated ability to activate monocytes. There are few apparent side effects to using tea tree oil topically in low concentrations, with contact dermatitis being the most common.

Tea tree oil has been effective as an adjunctive therapy in treating osteomyelitis and infected chronic wounds in case studies and small clinical trials. There is a need for larger clinical trials to further examine efficacy of tea tree oil as an adjunctive wound therapy, as well as improved guidelines for developing plant-based medicines.

Study: A randomized, controlled trial of tea tree topical preparations versus a standard topical regimen for the clearance of MRSA colonization.

Dryden MS, Dailly S, Crouch M. Department of Microbiology and Communicable Disease, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 5DG, UK.

Two topical MRSA eradication regimes were compared in hospital patients: a standard treatment included mupirocin 2% nasal ointment, chlorhexidine gluconate 4% soap, silver sulfadiazine 1% cream versus a tea tree oil regimen, which included tea tree 10% cream, tea tree 5% body wash, both given for five days. One hundred and fourteen patients received standard treatment and 56 (49%) were cleared of MRSA carriage. One hundred and ten received tea tree oil regimen and 46 (41%) were cleared. There was no significant difference between treatment regimens (Fisher's exact test; P = 0.0286). Mupirocin was significantly more effective at clearing nasal carriage (78%) than tea tree cream (47%; P = 0.0001) but tea tree treatment was more effective than chlorhexidine or silver sulfadiazine at clearing superficial skin sites and skin lesions. The tea tree preparations were effective, safe and well tolerated and could be considered in regimens for eradication of MRSA carriage.

Antimicrobial effects of tea-tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes.

Raman A, Weir U, Bloomfield SF.Department of Pharmacy, King's College London, UK.

Major components of two tea-tree oil samples were identified using thin layer and gas-liquid chromatography (TLC and GLC). Using a TLC-bioautographic technique, the tea-tree oils, terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol and alpha-pinene were found to be active against Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes whereas cineole was inactive against these organisms. The MIC values of the three active compounds increased in the order alpha-terpineol < terpinen-4-ol < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_50">pinene for all three micro-organisms. MIC values of the tea-tree oils and terpinen-4-ol were lower for P. acnes than for the two staphylococci. This study supports the use of tea-tree oil in the treatment of acne, and demonstrates that terpinen-4-ol is not the sole active constituent of the 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.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Studies Continue to Confirm the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Lavender Essential Oil

Studies often utilize lavender essential oil, as it's effects are well documented, it is easy to obtain, and displays it's aroma-therapeutic effect in a wide variety of conditions. The first study examines the use of lavender oil as an ingredient in the Ayurvedic treatment called 'Shirdohara', or the dripping/pouring of a warm fixed oil (such as sesame) on the forehead of a patient. The addition of lavender to the fixed oil significantly increased the relaxation response to the treatment.

The second indirectly implies the relaxing effects of lavender oil by testing the known relaxing constituent of the oil: Linalool. This molecule is naturally present in Lavendula angustifolia species, and is most prevelent in Lavender grown at high-elevations in France (hence the importance of 'high-elevation' lavender). This studied notes dramatic changes in physiology solely from the inhalation of Linalool. We expect the complete oil to be a more pleasant experience, as it smells more like a flower than just one, sweet, chemical constituent. The conditions used in the study - the vapor concentration of Linalool, can easily be created at home using a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser with the lavender oil of your choice.

Study: Pharmaco-physio-psychologic effect of Ayurvedic oil-dripping treatment using an essential oil from Lavendula angustifolia.

Xu F, Uebaba K, Ogawa H, Tatsuse T, Wang BH, Hisajima T, Venkatraman S. University of Toyama, Presymptomatic Health Promotion, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, Toyama City, Japan.

Ayurvedic oil-dripping treatment, Shirodhara, involves the use of medicated herbal sesame oils. In our previous reports, we found that Shirodhara with plain sesame oil induced anxiolysis and an altered state of consciousness (ASC) in healthy subjects. We studied the pharmaco-physio-psychologic effect of Shirodhara with medicated sesame oil including an essential oil from Lavendula angustifolia (lavender) in the present study. Sixteen (16) healthy females (38 +/- 8 years old) were assigned at random to three treatments applied by a robotic oil-dripping system: plain sesame oil (plain Shirodhara), medicated sesame oil with a 0.3 volume % of lavender essential oil (lavender Shirodhara), or the control supine position.

Psychophysiologic parameters including the heart rate, skin temperature of the dorsum of hands and feet, as well as anxiety and ASC were monitored, and the rates of change of these items were calculated to assess the psychophysiologic changes brought about by Shirodhara. Lavender Shirodhara showed potent anxiolytic and ASC-inducing or promoting effects, and induced the largest increase in foot skin temperature. The correlation between anxiolysis and ASC, as well as the correlation between these psychologic effects and the elevated foot skin temperature were larger in the lavender Shirodhara than in the other two conditions.

It was speculated that the psycho-physiologic effects of lavender Shirodhara would be brought about by three mechanisms: (1) the well-known relaxing action of essential oils from L. angustifolia mediated by olfactory nerves, (2) the pharmacologic action of substances absorbed through the skin or mucosa in the sesame oil or lavender essential oil, and (3) the physiologic effect of sesame oil dripped on the forehead induced by the somato-autonomic reflex through thermosensors or pressure sensors in the skin or hair follicles via the trigeminal cranial nerve. The complicated pharmaco-physio-psychologic action of Ayurvedic oil treatment may provide a useful model for future pharmaco-physio-psychotherapy.

Study: Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice.

Linck VD, da Silva AL, Figueiró M, Luis Piato A, Paula Herrmann A, Dupont Birck F, Bastos Caramão E, Sávio Nunes D, Moreno PR, Elisabetsky E. Laboratório de Etnofarmacologia, Brazil; PPG Ciências Biológicas-Bioquímica, Brazil.

Linalool is a monoterpene often found as a major component of essential oils obtained from aromatic plant species, many of which are used in traditional medical systems as hypno-sedatives. Psychopharmacological evaluations of linalool (i.p. and i.c.v.) revealed marked sedative and anticonvulsant central effects in various mouse models. Considering this profile and alleged effects of inhaled lavender essential oil, the purpose of this study was to examine the sedative effects of inhaled linalool in mice. Mice were placed in an inhalation chamber during 60min, in an atmosphere saturated with 1% or 3% linalool. Immediately after inhalation, animals were evaluated regarding locomotion, barbiturate-induced sleeping time, body temperature and motor coordination (rota-rod test). The 1% and 3% linalool increased (p<0.01) pentobarbital sleeping time and reduced (p<0.01) body temperature. The 3% linalool decreased (p<0.01) locomotion. Motor coordination was not affected. Hence, linalool inhaled for 1h seems to induce sedation without significant impairment in motor abilities, a side effect shared by most psycholeptic drugs.

*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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essential Oils Found Effective Against Drug Resistant Candida

Candida fungal infection is a relatively common ailment in the Western world. Approximately 75% of women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime (also known as vaginal candidiasis), with about 50% having the infection reoccur. Candida overgrowth can occur in many organs; it is also found in the mouth and throat (as 'thrush'), in the esophagus, abdomen, lungs, blood (called 'candidemia') and other organs. Candida fungus is naturally present in the human body, and is usually kept in check by a balanced endogenous microbe profile and healthy immune system. Natural medicine doctors believe the prevalence of stress, along with acid-forming and high-sugar diets allow Candida fungal species to over-proliferate, resulting in one or more of the many symptoms of infection.

In recent years, many scientific studies have shown essential oils, the concentrated steam-distillates of plants, to be effective in eradicating Candida. Oils can be ingested with the direction of a qualified practitioner, diluted and applied topically, or are sometimes used in the form of a vaginal ovule (a natural herbal vaginal implant spiked one or more with essential oils). Several of these studies have focused on the efficacy of Tea Tree essential oil, which is inexpensive, readily available, and relatively safe when used under the care of a natural health professional.

Fluconazole is a drug commonly used to control Candida infections; yet, as is the case with many pharmaceutical preparations, some Candida species are resistant to the drug's effects. In a recent study published in the November issue of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, several essential oils were tested for efficacy in eradication of both fluconazole-susceptible and fluconazole-resistant species. The main finding, as described by researchers of the Federal University at Santa Maria, Brazil, was that the fluconazole-resistant species were more susceptible to the effects of essential oils than their fluconazole-susceptible counterparts.

This is exciting news that can bolster the use of natural medicines in conventional therapy settings, given that between 5% and 33% of Candida cases may be from fluconazole-resistant strains. Further, it was the essential oil of Oregano, now commonly found in encapsulated form in health food stores across the country, that showed the most potent anti-fungal activity in the study. Oil of Oregano is considered a very potent anti-microbial agent, effective against a broad range of infectious microbes.

At the same time, Oregano oil can be dangerous if mis-used. Direct application to the skin or undiluted ingestion of the oil can cause severe irritation. It is important to use this and other essential oils with the guidance of a qualified medical practitioner for treatment of illness and disease. While the essential oils tested in the study were examined individually, several oils are often used at once or in series for the best results. In Europe, where aroma-medicine has been a common practice for many years, oils are prescribed in very small amounts, in precise formulas for best results. In North America, therapists typically suggest the use of other complimentary therapies and lifestyle changes to support the immune system, in combination with essential oils, to bring the body's natural microbes into balance.

*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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