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Essential Oil Research Update
These are abstracts of research studies recently published in peer-reviewed journals around the world, along with our summary and opinions.
This first study investigates anticancer potential of the essential oil of the 'Mosquito Plant' or 'Feverleaf Teabush', Ocimum viride
. This oil is primarly composed of Thymol (found, of course, in significant quantities in Thyme essential oil), along with a number of sesquiterpinoids and other constituents. It is important to note when reviewing ANY research such as this, and particularly with anti-cancer research, that these are only preliminary studies. They do not deeply investigate the possibilty for development of a protocol for humans -- though they do pave the way for more research to be peformed in this medical realm using essential oils.
This study notes that the essential oil from Ocimum viride
induces cell death in a particular line of colon cancer cells - inducing cancer cell death is a crucial component of any cancer treatment, as one of the features of any cancer is that the cells do not naturally die-off, but continue to replicate without natural limitations.Study: Cytotoxic and apoptotic activity of essential oil from Ocimum viride towards COLO 205 Cells.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Oct 20.
Sharma M, Agrawal SK, Sharma PR, Chadha BS, Khosla MK, Saxena AK. Oncology Group, Pharmacology Division, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine,
Jammu, J & K, India-180016.
"We investigated the apoptosis inducing effect of essential oil (EO) from aerial parts of Ocimum viride in human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells (COLO 205 cell line). The COLO 205 cells were exposed to 0.0125 - 0.1 mul/ml of EO for 24, 48 and 72 h. Growth inhibition was determined by sulphorhodamine B (SRB) assay. Double staining with Acridine orange and Ethidium bromide for nuclear changes was performed. Cell cycle analysis and change in mitochondrial membrane potential was quantified by flow cytometry. Subsequently, using annexin V/PI assay, the proportion of cells actively undergoing apoptosis was determined. Changes in DNA were observed by DNA ladder assay. Eventually the surface morphology of apoptotic cells was studied by scanning electron microscopy."
"EO (essential oil) is cytotoxic to COLO 205 cells in dose and time dependent manner, as is evident by SRB assay. This observed cell death was due to apoptosis, as established by annexin V/PI assay, DNA Ladder formation and scanning electron microscopy. Our results reveal that EO has apoptosis inducing effect against COLO 205 cells in vitro and is a promising candidate for further anticancer study.
This second study investigated the in-vitro (in the test tube) effects of Tea Tree essential oil against the 'Swine Flu' virus. The study only looks at the direct eradication of the virus, and not at the way essential oils interact with the immune system (essential oils have been shown to improve immune system function in a number of ways). The study DOES conclude that Tea Tree essential oil can have a direct eradication effect on the H1N1 virus.Study: In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009 Sep 18.
Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Bisignano B, Furneri PM, Bisignano G, Castro A. Department of Microbiological and Gynaecological Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
Abstract Aims: To investigate the in vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil (TTO, or Tea Tree essential oil
) and its main components, terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpinene, gamma-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene and alpha-terpineol. Methods and Results: The antiviral activity of tested compounds was evaluated against polio type 1, ECHO 9, Coxsackie B1, adeno type 2, herpes simplex (HSV) type 1 and 2 viruses by 50% plaque reduction assay. The anti-influenza virus assay was based on the inhibition of the virus-induced cytopathogenicity. Results obtained from our screening demonstrated that the TTO and some of its components (the terpinen-4-ol, the terpinolene, the alpha-terpineol) have an inhibitory effect on influenza A/PR/8 virus subtype H1N1 replication at doses below the cytotoxic dose. The ID(50) value of the TTO was found to be 0.0006% (v/v) and was much lower than its CD(50) (0.025% v/v). All the compounds were ineffective against polio 1, adeno 2, ECHO 9, Coxsackie B1, HSV-1 and HSV-2. None of the tested compounds showed virucidal activity. Only a slight virucidal effect was observed for TTO (0.125% v/v) against HSV-1 and HSV-2. Conclusions: These data show that TTO has an antiviral activity against influenza A/PR/8 virus subtype H1N1 and that antiviral activity has been principally attributed to terpinen-4-ol, the main active component. Significance and Impact of the Study: TTO should be a promising drug in the treatment of influenza virus infection.
Choosing The Best Diffuser For Your Needs
Essential Oil Diffusers: An Amazing Array Of Health Benefits For Your Family
Essential oils are recently in the limelight of the alternative medicine scene. Professional aromatherapists have said for years that essential oils' greatest gift to mankind will be the treatment and prevention of infectious illness -- and now science is fully validating this claim. Plus oils have also been scientifically shown to make people happier and lower their stress levels (among a great many other therapeutic actions). What's the easiest way to use these wonderful natural medicines for yourself and your family? Simple inhalation! And what's the best way to do this? By using an essential oil diffuser. Here's a look at all the medicinal benefits of inhalation of essential oils, and a guide to choosing the right diffuser for your needs
.The Data Is In: The Science of Aroma Medicine
The big interests in home use of essential oils is twofold: 1) They can bring calm to overexcited youngsters while acting as antidepressants for everyone. 2) They have proven antibacterial and antiviral actions; they are able to destroy these microbes in the air, while simultaneously support the strength of our immune system. There's a good bit of scientific data backing both these claims available for free viewing at PubMed.Gov -- start by simply searching for "essential oil" and see where it takes you. Again, the easiest way to reap these benefits of essential oils is to use a diffuser to release the oils into the air in your environment. A diffuser simply evaporates oils faster than they would naturally, getting a therapeutic concentration into your living or office space -- but there are many diffuser styles -- we'll help you find the one best suited to your needs.The Right Diffusers For A Healthy Immune System
You can imaging that in order to best disinfect the air in your surroundings, you'd need a little bit more essential oil evaporating then, say, the scent from an aromatherapy candle. To get this amount of output requires a "nebulizing" diffuser. To "nebulize" an essential oil means to make a very fine mist, which quickly and easily evaporates. Some diffuser manufacturers claim their diffusers make smaller droplets of mist than others, but the truth is they all will work. The droplets all "disappear" completely upon leaving the diffuser, without any residue around the machine. To best conserve your oils while still creating these therapeutic effects, you'll want a timer system too -- some come with them built-in, though the most versatile will be external, fully-programmable timers you can find online or in a hardware store.
The nebulizers come in two styles: "cold air" and "ultrasonic". The cold air units use only air pressure to diffuse the oils, and output the highest concentration of any diffuser type. The ultrasonic is essentially a small water-humidification unit, where oils are mixed with water and then evaporated. Both styles typically have output controls, so you can turn up or down the amount of oil being diffused. They are also both exceptionally quiet.Simple Diffusers To Deliver Effective Aromas
Other styles of diffusers either gently warm the oils or use a fan to blow over the oils to evaporate them. Their intention is to get the oils in the air so you can enjoy their aromas -- and while this sounds simple, its actually therapeutically meaningful: The "smell sense" is the only one of the five senses directly wired to the control center of the brain (signals from the other senses travel through "switching stations" first). The result is that the body reacts to a smell without us thinking about it. Certain smells can lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and help us sleep more deeply. Some users report feeling happier or calmer when inhaling particular scents, and other scents make the mind sharper -- improving test scores, reducing errors at work, and improving the efficiency of studying for school. A fan diffuser will blow air and evaporate oil from a cotton pad, and warming diffusers will safely (i.e. ok to use around children) and gently use heat to also evaporate oils from a pad. Both these styles are good choices for smaller areas, like a bedroom or living room.Automatic On/Off Cycles For Best Results
The best way to use the least amount of essential oil for your needs is to use a timer -- either built-in to the diffuser or a readily-available appliance timer. For ANY application, whether simple aromatic use or medicinal needs, one need only be exposed to the diffused oils for a few minutes at a time. Aromatically, your "smell scent" will become quickly accustom to the aroma, and you'll start to think the diffuser isn't working anymore. Running the diffuser for only a few minutes every half an hour lets your nose "forget" the oils are in the air. The same principal works for disinfecting the air and immune-system support -- there's no need to over-saturate the air with essential oils. They are so potent that there's no need to continually diffuse a high concentration for these results.Selecting The Best Oils For Your Needs
Each essential oil has a unique chemistry; the unique chemistry of each oil gives it its aroma and its therapeutic action. For emotional support -- oils that make you happy -- consider the "Needle" oils. Oils distilled from Spruce, Fir
, and Pine
needles are very popular to give your home the scent of being deep in the forest. You can imagine how pleasant that may be! Other anti-depressant oils include the citrus oils (virtually all the oils pressed from the peels of citrus fruit are considered very uplifting) and some folks really enjoy the florals: Rose Geranium
, and Neroli
. Lavender essential oil
is THE most studied oil for calming and rest. There are many resources on the internet to help you find the oils you enjoy smelling, with the psychological energetic profile you're interested in. Most oils in this category are safe for all ages -- only Peppermint, used for invigorating mental activity, is not recommended for use with younger children.
For immune support and air-cleaning, there are many oils highly regarded for their antimicrobial actions. Bay laurel is very nice, and scientifically shown to be an effective anti-viral. "Plain" Lemon and Rosemary oils are excellent antibacterials, as is Lemon Tea Tree (very potent), Lemongrass, and Eucalyptus Radiata (shown specifically to help our white blood cells function better). Most oils that are sharper and brighter will be effective, but be careful as there are some herb-oils that are too strong to diffuse, like Oregano and Thyme, along with the spice oil Cinnamon. In any case, use your judgment with the aromas: if they seem to intense, they are -- and either switch to a different oil or turn down the diffuser output. Also be aware that children are MUCH more sensitive to essential oils than adults -- adjust your use as necessary, and consult a reputable guide to using essential oils with children.In Conclusion: Diffusers Make Aroma-Therapy Simple
Essential oil diffusers are inexpensive and easily purchased at a local health food store and around the internet. Look for a unit specifically designed for use with pure essential oils, rather than "fragrance oils" (man-made replicates of natural scents -- there is no "pumkin pie" essential oil, for example!). If you're not sure which oils to start with, there are many guides and great books available, and many aromatherapy companies will have support staff to help get you started. The world of aroma-medicine is available to you, and diffusing oils in your home is a great beginning in this realm of natural medicine.
Therapeutic Skin Care: Effective Recipes for Beautiful Mature Skin
Want to use a high-end skin care formula but are put off by the cost? Looking for something truly customized for your skin type? Feeling uncomfortable with all those ingredients you cannot pronounce? Why not make your own blend, with completely pure high grade botanicals at a fraction of the cost? Here's three fantastic recipes for woman's mature skin -- effective beauty care you can make at home quickly, and within a budget.
Concentrated Beauty Medicine: The Essential Oils
The heart of much of the finest natural skin care is made up of volatile plant extracts, otherwise known as essential oils. While some folks still see essential oils as some sort of New Age funny-smelling stuff, the truth is getting out: that essential oils really are medicine, and many of them are some of the finest skin care ingredients money can buy. There's even a whole bunch of scientific data to back it up (search pubmed.gov for "calendula" or "rosehipseed" and "skin" for example, and you'll see all sorts of papers). The essential oils make up the "active ingredients" of your formula, and the "carrier oils" into which they're mixed make up the "base". Creating a custom recipe is as easy as selecting a few essential oils and one or two carrier oils that suit your skin's particular needs, and mixing them together just as you would and recipe in the kitchen.
The Heart of Beauty Care: Rose Otto
On to the ingredients -- we'll look at several, and note which ones are best for each skin type. The heart of every formula for woman's mature skin care is also the premier beauty oil of all time: Rose Otto. This steam distilled variety of Rose essential oil is nearly miraculous in its therapeutic beauty care benefits for woman's skin. Rose offers a synergy of effects, being emollient, softening and hydrating in addition to being gently stimulating and cleansing. Amazingly, it is also considered astringent (remember its also hydrating at the same time) and can heal redness, broken capillaries and inflammation. It is somewhat costly, but for your recipe, you'll only need a few drops -- the smallest size available will virtually always be enough, and probably enough for several bottles of your recipe. And oh MY, even those tiny amounts smell simply Out-Of-This-World!
Super Healing Calendula
Next we'll choose an oil that's highly nutritive, protective, and healing at the same time: Calendula. Infused oil of Calendula is all that used to be available, but now a high-tech (but still natural) supercritical carbon dioxide extract can be found in the essential oil section of online stores. Look for Calendula CO2 "Total". This is an amazing extract from an amazingly healing flower. Tons of research notes its anti-inflammatory, wound healing, and antioxidant actions. Calendula "infused oil", where the flowers are soaked in another oil like Olive, has been used throughout history for soothing sensitive skin -- now the CO2 extract gives you the flexibility to easily add this precious ingredient to you recipe -- a very highly recommended choice!
Stimulate, Regenerate and Cleanse
We'll also add something truly regenerative -- one or more essential oils that really helps the skin look and feel ALIVE. Three excellent choices are Rosemary Verbenone
italicum, and French Lavender
. Rosemary has also been used in skin care for hundreds (maybe even thousands) of years. Cleansing and invigorating, Rosemary increasing the metabolism of skin cells (more nutrients in and more waste out). The Verbenone type contains a natural constituent considered by therapists to speed tissue regeneration, making healthier skin faster! Helichrysum is more potent than Rosemary as an anti-inflammate, and regenerative, but not quite as stimulating to cell metabolism or as strong an anti-septic. Lavender is likely the most common of the regenerative skin care essential oils; its very gentle, soothing, balancing, and cleansing -- its also quite floral, so if you like earthier aromas, choose Rosemary or Helichrysum, if you enjoy flower-scents, go for the Lavender.
A final two essential oils with significant therapeutic action in skin care: Green Myrtle and Sandalwood. Both of these oils are considered highly balancing, bringing oils back to a healthy middle ground. Sandalwood is excellent for both oily AND dry skin, adding a pleasing, grounding, earthy aroma to your formula (it is quite popular in men's skin care too). Myrtle is astringent, tightening, antiseptic, and has a fresh, bright, herbaceous aroma with a lemony-twist.
The Base of Every Formula: Therapeutic Carrier Oils
On to the base of the formula, the "carrier oils". These are oils cold pressed from nuts, seeds and fruit. Olive oil is an example, but we'll use ones more therapeutic for woman's beauty care. Virgin Coconut oil is the foundation of every recipe. It has a host of therapeutic properties itself: it is antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral (just in case!). Coconut oil is also VERY hydrating and is known to balance hormones in the skin on a cellular level (which can clear up a number of skin "conditions" -- acne being one of them, dry irritated skin being another). Kukui nut oil, also from the tropics, is another amazing, healing base oil with numerous skin care benefits similar to Coconut. Kukui oil is beneficial for all skin types bringing a gentle softness and silkiness to the skin. Both of these oils blended in equal amounts make a wonderful base into which to add the essential oils -- OR you may use one or the other, in combination with this next amazing oil...
Rosehip Seed: Nature's Anti-Wrinkle Solution
Cold pressed from the seeds of wild roses, grown high and arid regions of South America, comes Rosehip Seed Oil, Rosa Mosqueta. A study done in 1983 at the University of Santiago, Chile, revealed the exceptionally therapeutic activity of this oil for smoothing the skin in every respect: it reduces wrinkles, smooths skin color, significantly slows further skin aging, reduces scar appearance and more. Rosehip seed should NOT be used by those currently susceptible to acne breakouts, as its ability to increase skin-cell turnover can exacerbate this particular situation. For everyone else, mixing Rosehip seed and the tropical nut oils creates an incredible synergy of effects. So lets mix up some of this beauty magic!
Putting It All Together
Ingredients: 1 dark glass bottle
30 or 60ml (1 or 2 ounces). Blue cobalt is beautiful. Brown is also appropriate. You'll want to use a dark colored glass to protect the essential oils. Also: 1 funnel, Essential oils of choice, Coconut oil (warm to make liquid at room temperature), Kukui nut oil
To Mix: Measure into the bottle your essential oils of choice. Fill the rest of the bottle with the approximate amounts of the indicated carrier oils -- they need not be as exact as the essential oils. Spiral the bottle and allow to blend for 2 hours or longer. The scent will become more and more delicious over time. Use 2 x day on clean skin. Each recipe is for one fluid ounce of blend; you can make more by multiplying the amounts however many times you'd like.
Healing Beauty Formulas For Every Skin Type:
Recipe #1: For dry skin with smile lines: Rose Otto 8 drops, Lavender 12 drops, Calendula CO2 6 drops, based in equal parts Coconut, Kukui oil and Rosehip seed oils.
Recipe #2: For mature skin with scars and smile lines: Rose Otto 6 drops, Lavender 8 drops, Helichrysum 6 drops, Rosemary V. 6 drops, based in equal parts Coconut, Kukui oil and Rosehip seed oils.
Recipe #3: For irritated or sensitive skin: Rosemary Verbenone 8 drops, Lavender 6 drops, Calendula 6 drops, Sandalwood 6 drops, in equal parts of all three base oils.
Recipe #4: For skin that is oily or combination: Green Myrtle 10 drops, Lavender 8, drops, Rosemary V. 6 drops, in equal parts of Kukui and Coconut oils only, no Rosehip Seed.
And there you have it: incredibly effective "mature skin" care blends for every woman. Once you make one of these yourself, and realize you may have just made yourself the best skin care formula EVER, you can experiment a little with one or more of the hundreds of essential oils available. Each has unique therapeutic properties that are highly compatible to our skin. Here's to your happy, healthy glow!
Kukui Nut Oil - An All-Around Super Carrier
Botanical name: Aleurites moluccans
A semi-clear oil liquid with little to no odor. Blends well in most formulations.
Of all the Hawaiian trees, the Kukui has the lightest colored foliage. A lovely silver powder on its leaves make it quite conspicuous in the forest makes it easy to spot. The trees often grow in gulches and on the lower slopes of the mountains with the branches reaching 30+ feet above the ground. Trees branch 30 feet or more above the ground and at the end of the branches small greenish-tinged white flowers. These Kukui has small green tinted white flowers that are often seen entwined in leis. The Kukui nuts are contained within the fruit.
In 1959 the Kukui nut tree became the official state tree of Hawaii. Scientists have found traces of Kukui pollen in ancient geological deposits, making the assumption that the Kukui tree is indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. Many natives to the Hawaiian islands use Kukui nut oil to protect their skin as well as the skin of their beloved children.
High in Vitamin C, D, and E and various other antioxidants. Kukui oil contains 8.1% saturated fatty acids, 15.3% monounsaturated fatty acids, 43% linoleate, and 33% linolenate. Kukui nut oil is invaluable for rejuvenating and healing skin providing moisture and nourishment to dry, mature, and damaged skin. Excellent for use on skin with psoriasis and eczema as well as skin that has been damaged by the elements. Kukui oil does not 'cure' psoriasis or eczema (as this requires a complete systemic protocol), but it does provide effective relief from the symptoms. Currently, Kukui is being used in some Hawaii hospitals and in several cancer centers for the care of radiation burns on cancer patients.
Kukui is a wonderful carrier for massage blends as it is excellent for dry and damaged skin and leaves a fine and silky feeling to the skin. Additionally Kukui nut oil is great for those with sensitive skin making it a wonderful oil for natural skin and body-care products.
Do NOT expose Kukui Nut Oil to extreme heat.
Calendula Oil: Nature's Proven Wound Healer
Infused Calendula oil has long been used as a component of natural skin care preparations for its special soothing properties. The oil of the flowers had not been available as an essential oil for most of its history, as the flowers had been too delicate to process in the typical steam distillation process. With the recent introduction of the Supercritical cold-extraction process, a concentrated Calendula CO2 essential oil
is now readily available, making it very easy to include this wonderful concentrated in any skin care and wound healing recipe. This new Calendula extract has been the subject of much research over the last several years, confirming its nearly miraculous regenerative, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions -- further encouraging its use for natural skin care products, whether purchased already blended or for you to make a personal formula at home.
Calendula flowers, a particular kind of Marigold, is a genus of 20 species of herbaceous plants in the Daisy family. Calendula infused oil -- made by soaking the flowers in olive oil -- is highly regarded as a base of soothing skin formulas, with cooling and hydrating effects. It has been a popular ingredient in formulas for eczema and baby's needs -- or anywhere skin irritation is being addressed. The infused oil had limitations in that the base oil needed to be the infused oil itself, limiting other carrier or base oils included in the formula. Even very small quantities (1-3%, or 8-24 drops per ounce) of the essential oil added to your recipes can have dramatic results.
With an essential oil of Calendula finally available, great flexibility of formulation has been afforded to the home user. This oil is often noted as Calendula CO2, indicating the use of pressurized carbon dioxide (the natural gas which becomes liquid at high pressures) used for extraction of the active constituents of the flowers. The product of this new extraction process has been the subject of MANY scientific inquiries, available through pubmed.gov, the database of the National Institute of Health. A search for "Calendula" currently produces 195 results, with abstracts published in peer-reviewed journals around the world.
The research focuses on several of Calendula's healing properties. Scientists have investigated the following effects of Calendula: an increased rate of wound healing, treatment of radiation burns from chemotherapy, powerful antioxidant activity, inflammation reduction, liver protection, plus anti-parasitic, antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic and even anti-tumorial effects. Most of the conclusions of these studies straightforwardly hail the healing effects of Calendula; in Volume 20, 2009 Journal of Basic Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, Indian scientists note "The data indicate potent wound healing activity of Calendula officinalis extract". Other researchers concluded in the 2009 Indian Journal of Experimental Biology: "Results suggest a protective role of the flower extract of C. officinalis against...hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) and cisplatin induced nephrotoxicity (kidney toxicity)...has been found to contain several carotenoids of which lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene predominate...action of the flower extract may be due to its antioxidant activity".
One can read a great many of these studies coming to the same conclusions -- that Calendula extract (ie. the CO2 essential oil) has nearly miraculous healing powers. So then, how to use it? Let's have a look at some classic methods.
The easiest uses of Calendula essential oil will be in externally-applied topical formulas. Simply include a few drops per ounce of your recipe. For example, an excellent wound-healing AND anti-inflammatory blend could be made with 3 milliliters of Helichrysum italicum essential oil
(a profound wound-healing and pain relieving essential oil) and 1 milliliter Calendula essential oil in a base of equal parts Tamanu, Coconut and Rosehip seed oils. This would be useful for treatment of wounds after accidents or surgery (while it should not be applied directly to open wounds -- around the open area would be fine). A stronger formula would be useful for deep tissue injuries, like sports injuries, muscle strains, sprains and the like. Use up to 25% Helichrysum and 5% Calendula in a simple base of pure Jojoba oil, massaging into painful areas up to 3 times daily. This type of formula utilizes the strong anti-inflammatory action of Helichrysum along with the wound healing and antioxidant effects of Calendula to speed healing and relieve pain of connective-tissue damage.
Topical therapeutic application may be best performed using the practice of reflexology. Calendula and other essential oils used for support of the liver and kidney can be massaged into the reflex points of the feet corresponding to these organs. These points are directly behind the ball of the foot (away from the toes, toward the arch) -- the liver point is in-line between the big toe and the second toe, the kidneys in-line with the split between the 4th and pinky toe. These areas can be massaged, with the practitioner and massage recipient communicating to find the exact points most in need of attention. An excellent detoxifying blend can be made with Calendula (10%), Helichrysum (3-5%), Blue Tansy (5%) and Carrot Seed (5%) in virgin Coconut oil. This same blend can be diluted in half again and applied on the body in the regions of the organs themselves.
Calendula extract is also safe for internal ingestion, listed as GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA. A few drops can be ingested daily for simple antioxidant support, and the oil, while not particularly flavorful (tastes like strong green/orange flowers), can be ingested without dilution (unlike other 'hotter' essential oils). For more complete antioxidant protection from essential oils that are 'GRAS', consider Sea Buckthorn CO2 (3 drops daily, a nicer flavor) and Clove CO2 (1 drop daily -- this is a 'hot' oil and will require dilution in warm water or olive oil). Injestion of Carrot Seed, 1 drop daily, is recommended in the aromatherapy literature for liver support. The oils can be dropped in a en empty cellulose capsule and easily ingested this way. Ingestion also provides a means of utilizing the organ support offered by Calendula; while protocols are developed for human use, low dosages such as these are considered both safe and therapeutic by aromatherapy professionals.