Monday, 3 December 2012

Essential oil research update - Basil to Ylang

Fans of Lorellas pictures can find another 10 pictures on our website
Here I have picked out some of my favourite research articles.  As you know from my talks I see great potential in the lactones and in the 5 carbon ring components found in essential oils. 

Here I give you some feel for whats happening in aromatherapy research and practice.

While we are against animal testing of cosmetics that does not extend to tests and dissection of rats for therapeutic benefit and in particular on the effects of the aromas on the mind.


How can aromatherapy help?  in particular aromatherapy can help by clearly communicating to research scientists

1.  what oils clinical practice indicates should be the oils to study
2.  an understanding of the nature of essential oils in particular that they represent of mix of over 100 small chemicals
3.  the need to analyse the essential oil studied as composition varies widely
4.  the need to source essential oil that is fresh season so unoxidised and of the hghest quality.
5.  The need to study unadulterated essential oils, synthetic ingredients are commonly added to essential oils not grown specifically for aromatherapy and pharacy to 'standardise' them for the needs of the flavour and fragrance trade.
6.  'Nature identical' essential oils are not the essential oils used in aromatherapy.
7.  the limited applicability of the 'principal constituent' which is the basis of pharmacology research as the active properties particularly in the aromas for the mind may depend on constituents present in tiny quantities and their interaction with other constituents

heres a 2012 update on the oils Basil to Eucalyptus

Research shows Basil (contains R - - Linalool 90%) reduces stress levels.
Research shows Benzoin (contains Benzoic acid 40%)  to have skin anti aging antioxidative properties.
Research shows both Bergamot oil (contains limonene 50%, linalyl acetate 25%)  and diazepam exhibited anxiolytic-like behaviours and attenuated HPA axis activity by reducing the corticosterone response to stress.
 Black pepper - Research shows a beneficial effect in hypertension and increased uptake of selenium and curcumin.  Black pepper also shows an increased swallowing response. 
Research shows chamomile a beneficial effect in skincare.
Research shows chamomile has a stimulant effect on the CNS
Research shows chamomile may provide clinically meaningful antidepressant activity that occurs in addition to its previously observed anxiolytic activity.
Research shows Aromatic oil massage with clary sage provided relief for outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea and reduced the duration of menstrual pain.
 Research indicates cypress shows a CNS depressant effect reducing anxiety. 
  Research shows Eucalyptus has some effect on the CNS but is not a CNS stimulant or a CNS depressant.  Research shows besides antimicrobial effects eucalyptus oil has an analgesic (pain relieving) effect. 
Make sure you include this important research paper in your studies.
Phytother Res. 2012 Jun;26(6):884-91. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3665. Epub 2011 Nov 15.
Evaluation of the effects of plant-derived essential oils on central nervous system function using discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance response in mice.
Umezu T.
Biological Imaging and Analysis Section, Center for Environmental Measurement and Analysis, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan.
Although plant-derived essential oils (EOs) have been used to treat various mental disorders, their central nervous system (CNS) acting effects have not been clarified. The present study compared the effects of 20 kinds of EOs with the effects of already-known CNS acting drugs to examine whether the EOs exhibited CNS stimulant-like effects, CNS depressant-like effects, or neither. All agents were tested using a discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance task in mice. Essential oils of peppermint and chamomile exhibited CNS stimulant-like effects; that is, they increased the response rate (number of shuttlings/min) of the avoidance response. Linden also increased the response rate, however, the effect was not dose-dependent. In contrast, EOs of orange, grapefruit, and cypress exhibited CNS depressant-like effects; that is, they decreased the response rate of the avoidance response. Essential oils of eucalyptus and rose decreased the avoidance rate (number of avoidance responses/number of avoidance trials) without affecting the response rate, indicating that they may exhibit some CNS acting effects. Essential oils of 12 other plants, including juniper, patchouli, geranium, jasmine, clary sage, neroli, lavender, lemon, ylang-ylang, niaouli, vetivert and frankincense had no effect on the avoidance response in mice.

Research F-Y

Research shows aroma hand massage with a blend containing frankincense had a positive effect on pain and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer  Research shows Frankincense and other essential oils effective against microbial biofilms.


Research suggests aromatherapy massage  with geranium oil may be effective in reducing period pain.
Research shows a CNS depressive effect reducing anxiety. The scent of grapefruit oil, and particularly its primary component limonene, affects autonomic nerves, enhances lipolysis through a histaminergic response, and reduces appetite and body weight.

Research shows the stimulating/activating effect of jasmine oil and provides evidence for its use in aromatherapy for the relief of depression and uplifting mood in humans.
Research is focussed on the antifunghal and antimicrobial activity of Juniper berry oil.

Research shows  the relaxing effect of a mixture of lavender and bergamot oils. This synergistic blend provides evidence for its use in medicine for treating depression or anxiety in humans.
The use of antibiotics has resulted in fewer combat amputations and the traditional use of lavender oil in dressing wounds and burns has fallen into disuse. However research into the uses of lavender into generalised anxiety disorder and its other medically recognised therapeutic properties continues unabated.  Lavender oil is prescribed in capsules for a variety of disorders.

Research shows lemon oil lowers systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity.

Research shows mandarin (and limonene  its principal constituent) to have antiproliferative activiity against lung and liver cancer cells.

Research has partially confirmed the anti-agitation effects of melissa oil dropped onto a patients pjama collar.  There is a difficulty in methodology as agitation is difficult to structure into double blind placebo trials. The latest conclusion is that “When assessed using a rigorous design which ensures blinding of treatment arms, there is no evidence that melissa aromatherapy is superior to placebo or donepezil, in the treatment of agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease. However, the sizeable improvement in the placebo group emphasizes the potential non-specific benefits of touch and interaction in the treatment of agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease.”

Research is lacking but myrhh resin is commonly burnt in birthing in the middle east.  Myrhh oil and other essential oils may prove to have a role in the emerging psychotherapies for trauma.
Research does not confirm neroli has an anxiety reducing effect.  Neroli clearly is a pleasurable fragrance.  However neroli has neither a CNS stimulating or depressant effect.  This is perhaps a case pending research that aromatherapy has to assume the claimed properties for neroli are incorrect.

Research on patchouli and other oils shows short term exposure of relaxing/stimulating essential oils do not result in an effect on immune response.  This is perhaps a case where aromatherapy could have guided researchers to test oils known for their immunostimulant effect.

Research on orange bitter oil and sweet orange oil  focuses on odour uses. Orange oil shows a CNS Depressive effect reducing anxiety

Research on petitgrain essential oil is focussed on its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. 

Research focuses on the antioxidant and preservative qualities of pine essential oil with a variety of pine oils studied.

Research shows inhalation of rose oil can reduce stress induced disruption of the skin barrier.
Research has focussed on the improved anti aging cognitive effects of using rosemary oil

Research has focussed on the chemopreventative qualities of sandalwood.  Antiviral properties are currently being studied.

Research has focussed on the antifunghal and general antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil.

Research has focussed on the antimicrobial properties of thyme oils
properties of thyme oils in particular on their effectiveness against antibiotic resistant organisms like MRSA (superbugs).  There has been a renaissance of research interest in essential oils not only through concern over side effects of long term use of pharmaceuticals but the development of antibiotic resistant microbial strains.

Research shows that ylang-ylang oil may be characterized by the concept of "harmonization" rather than relaxation/sedation. Compared to an odorless placebo, ylang-ylang oil caused significant decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate as well as significant increases of subjective attentiveness and alertness.

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