Aromatherapy Science

The healing properties of essential oils have been recognized for centuries, with the Biblical story of frankincense one of the most well-known examples. It was deemed so valuable that frankincense was presented to the Christ Child as a gift worthy of the King of kings. Today, essential oils have become so mainstream they are used in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and medical clinics all over the world. The following studies support their efficacy.

Frankincense/Boswellia

Inhibition of human ovarian cancer cells This study investigated the chemical composition and biological activities of various extracts of Boswellia dalzielii leaves. Two extracts (using the solvents dichloromethane and cyclohexane) inhibited human ovarian cancer cells (OVCAR-3 cell lines and IGROV-1 cell lines) by 65.10 percent and 92.60 percent, respectively. Link to Study

Comparable to chemotherapy for liver cancer and colorectal cancer In this study, researchers explored and identified the in vitro anti-cancer activity of the bioactive constituents of Boswellia serrata oleo gum resin on two cell lines. One was HCC cells – hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common type of primary liver cancer. The other was CRC cells or colorectal cancer. These are major causes of cancer morbidity and mortality. In the two studied cell lines, the cytotoxic activity of each of two extracts of the B. serrata oleo gum resin (using petroleum ether and methanol) was comparable to the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin and 5-fluorouracil, respectively. Link to Study  

Anti-inflammatory/anti-tumorigenic According to the following article in Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, “Frankincense (乳香 Rǔ Xiāng; Boswellia species) has shown to be effective in treating various inflammatory diseases, and based on data obtained from the experiments done in vitro and in vivo, boswellic acids are assumed to be the pharmacologically active principles of frankincense which are responsible for the anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic actions.” Link to Study  [PDF]

Original study cited in above article:   [Link to Abstract]  

Reduction of cerebral edema after radiation of brain tumors Patients irradiated for brain tumors often suffer from cerebral edema and are usually treated with dexamethasone, which has various side effects. The objective of this study was to investigate the activity of Boswellia serrata (BS) in radiotherapy-related edema. Measurement by MRI immediately after the end of radiotherapy showed a reduction of cerebral edema of greater than 75 percent in 60 percent of patients receiving Boswellia serrata. BS could potentially be steroid-sparing for patients receiving brain irradiation. Link to Study

Suppression of metastasis in pancreatic cancer cells Small signaling proteins called chemokines and their receptors are mediators of chronic inflammation and have been linked to the metastasis of numerous cancers. The goal of this study was to determine whether acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA), a component of Boswellia serrata, could suppress the expression of CXCR4, a chemokine receptor that has been closely linked with cancer cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis (formation and development of blood vessels), and metastasis. Results have shown, for the first time, that AKBA abolishes the expression of CXCR4 in a wide variety of tumor cell types, especially in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Link to Study

2011  Anti-tumor activity in bladder cancer cells The goal of this study was to evaluate frankincense oil for its anti-tumor activity and signaling pathways in bladder cancer cells. Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability. Link to Study

Relief from pain and depression The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety (anxiety over specific situations), and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. The group receiving an aroma hand massage containing a 1:1:1 blend of frankincense, lavender, and bergamot showed more significant differences in the changes of pain score and depression than the control group. Link to Study 

Improved memory According to traditional medicine documents, frankincense has been used for increasing memory power, and many Iranian pregnant women consume frankincense for enhancing the power of learning and memory of their children. The result of this study shows that there is a significant increase in the power of learning in the post-learning stage, short-term memory, and long-term memory in rats whose mothers received an aqueous extract of Boswellia serrata orally during the gestation period. Link to Study

Anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-hyperlipidemic Boswellin is a methanol extract of the gum resin exudate of Boswellia serrata. The results of this study indicate that beta-boswellic acid and its derivatives (the major constituents of Boswellin) have anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-hyperlipidemic (used to treat high levels of fats) activities. Link to Study

Citrus Oils

Reduced anxiety Results showed that Citrus aurantium L. essential oil reduces the signs and symptoms associated with anxiety in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Link to Study  

Inhibits inflammation In this study, (+)-limonene epoxide inhibited release/activity of inflammatory mediators. Link to Study

Inhibits growth of lung cancer cells 5-demethyltangeretin (5DT) is a polymethoxyflavone found in citrus fruits. Researchers investigated growth inhibitory effects on three human nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Results demonstrated that 5DT inhibited NSCLC cell growth by inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest – which prevents repair of the damaged DNA – and inducing apoptosis or death of those cells. Link to Study  

“Citrus oils are breast cancer busters.” Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr. V.”), well-known for her unique approach to health and wellness during her 30 years of practice, was an early professional advocate of essential oils in American healthcare.  “One type of oil that stands out when it comes to its effect on breast cancer is limonene, an extract of citrus peels, some spices, and herbs,” states Dr. V.

“There are many studies that have shown limonene to have many anticancer benefits. “There are decades of animal research, as well as human research, which explain the mechanism of how this essential oil affects the body. The evidence is compelling enough for WebMD.com to state that is it used to prevent and treat cancer.

“Specifically for breast cancer, limonene activates Phase II detoxification of the liver, which results in neutralizing cancer-causing chemicals and kills off cancer cells,” she points out. “After ingesting 2 grams of limonene per day for six weeks before surgery, scientists found high concentrations of limonene in the breast tissue, as well as reduced tumor growth. In fact, limonene has been shown to inhibit or prevent breast cancer development.” [Learn more about Dr. V’s philosophy]

Geranium

Anti-microbial and antioxidant against Salmonella and E. coli The aim of this study was to evaluate the anti-microbial and antioxidant activities of three essential oils against Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on fresh produce and to examine consumer acceptability of fresh produce treated with these essential oils. Results showed that rose-scented geranium exhibited the most effective antimicrobial activity. It also demonstrated antioxidant properties. In a sensory test, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and spinach sprayed with 0.4 percent rose-scented geranium essential oil received higher scores by panelists. In conclusion, rose-scented geranium essential oil could be developed into a natural antimicrobial to prevent contamination of Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157:H7 in fresh produce. This oil would provide additional health benefits due to the antioxidant properties of its residue. Link to Study

Anti-inflammatory The objective of this study was to assess the anti-inflammatory activities of the essential oil of rose geranium (RGEO). Administered orally, RGEO demonstrated a significant reduction in paw edema with a comparable effect to that observed with diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used as the positive control. In addition, RGEO showed a potent anti-inflammatory activity by topical treatment for ear edema. When the dose was 5 or 10 µl of RGEO per ear, the inflammation was reduced by 73 and 88 percent, respectively. This is the first report to demonstrate the significant anti-inflammatory activity of Algerian rose geranium essential oil. Link to Study

Natural hormone treatment This article about geranium for natural hormone treatment describes the research and clinical evaluation done on geraniol, one of the main chemical components found in geranium oil. The results of these studies show successful treatment for autonomic nervous system imbalances. The autonomic nervous system is known to stimulate our hormonal production and response. Autonomic nervous system balance is an essential KEY for healthy functioning of the body, mind, and emotions. Link to Study