Several essential oils have been investigated for their anti-cancer effects, most notably Frankincense, Lemongrass, and the common constituent "linalool", which adds a sweetness to many essential oil varieties. In one study, human cancer cell lines were examined for their susceptability to lemongrass essential oil as a chemotherapeutic agent. In-vivo analysis was also performed using tumor models in mice -- which further enhances the investigation by not only providing an in-vitro (test tube) analysis. A previous study examined the cause of cancer cell death, particularly of human leukemia HL-60 cells. The cause of death was determined to be the formation of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and a loss of mitochondrial membrane stability -- leading to a loss of abiltiy of the cells to make their own energy and to defend themselves against oxidative radicals formed during natural metabolic processes.
Under examination, it was found that HL-60 Leukemia cancer cells treated with lemongrass essential oil lost their surface projections, indicating a loss of normal cell function. Surface projections in these cells normally implies the cells can interact with their environment, taking in nutrients and making adjustments per their environmental conditions. The cancer cell death was attributed to the main constituent of Lemongrass oil, isointermedeol, a sesquiterpene naturally present in the oil. The IC50 of the oil itself was 30 micro grams per ml, whereas for the isointermedeol, the IC50 dropped to 20 grams per ml. -- it is important to recognize, however, that this is not a huge difference in efficacy, and in many cases the complete oil is the better choice of treatment.
Lemongrass oil overall was effective against twelve types of cancer cells in-vitro, with a rage of effective doses from 4.2 to 79 micrograms per ml depending on the cell line, and two types -- solid and ascitic Ehrlich and Sarcoma-180 were also found affected by the the essential oil. Colon and Neuroblastoma cancers were the most susceptable to Lemongrass treatment. The absolute mechanism of induction of cell death is not yet known, though it is considered that essential oils disrupt un-natural cell processes in a manner of ways. In yet another study, Citral, a component of many lemon-scented oils, including Lemongrass, was found to induce apoptosis (natural cell death of cancer cells) in a liver cancer cell line at very low concentrations. This indicates it may not be the lemongrass per se, but can work with other essential oils such as Melissa, Lemon, and Lemon Verbena.
This important factor, notably that more than one chemical of the same essential oil can cause cancer cell death, is extremely interested, pointing out the potential for many essential oils to hold promise as anti-cancer therapies. Linalool, for example, has been shown in a recent study to cause cell death of liver cancer cells at very small concentrations. Linalool is found in a great many oils, most notably Lavender, and any oil which there is even a hint of sweetness. Does this mean other constituents do not have this effect, or do not work in concert with Linalool? Certainly not, and it seems most appropriate not to seperate out what science considers the 'active ingredient' -- there may certainly be more than one, and without extensive examination, it will be difficult to determine the synergy between all the constituents in these highly complex natural mixtures. It is crucial to recognize the importance of true, authentic essential oils, such as those from Ananda Aromatherapy and other manufacturer's dedicated to the craft, as the foundation of these natural healing compounds. It is the opinion of many natural medicine profesionals that there is no need, and it may in-fact be detrimental, to isolate any single natural compound for its healing effects. The animals of the planet have grown up with the plants, existing in a synergy where reducing plant medicine to single compounds goes against the grain of natural therapeutics.
The body of evidence of essential oils as cancer treatments continues to grow. One only need search pubmed.gov for 'essential oils cancer' to find an extensive list of abstracts to pique one's interest. As of today, this search produces 409 results. So why the great resistance to utilizing these fantastic medicines? It is a shame that even within the conventional medical community that many MD's are resistant to suggesting these 'alternative' therapies to their patients, even alongside 'conventional' treatments. The time for natural medicine has returned, and essential oils can be seen as a cornerstone for these natural therapeutics, given the large body of evidence supporting their use.
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