Years ago, when drugs and radiation therapy were still non-existent, our ancestors relied on nature to cure illnesses. Herbs, flowers, barks and their essential oils were used to treat all kinds of ailments, from the physical to the emotional – even psychological. How man came to distrust this way of life is unknown, but one thing is for sure – more and more people are now realizing the health benefits of essential oils and are going back to this practice.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants through a process called distillation. These oils serve various purposes but are popularly used as fragrance in cosmetics and, more importantly, for aromatherapy. It can be diffused or applied topically when mixed with a carrier oil. But because they are highly concentrated, essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil to avoid burning the skin.
Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is an alternative and complementary therapy with mainstream medicine that mainly uses essential oils as its primary therapeutic agent. Essential oils rose to fame once again when a group of scientists discovered their antiseptic and healing benefits. Their study revealed that due to the oils’ permeability properties, they can induce “relief from numerous ailments like depression, indigestion, headache, insomnia, muscular pain, respiratory problems, skin ailments, swollen joints, urine associated complications” as well as cancer.
In recent years, more research of essential oils for cancer has been conducted. As a matter of fact, one study highlights that novel anticancer molecules can be found in certain essential oils, some of which are already in various phases of clinical trials. Apart from helping prevent cancer, EOs are highly effective in managing side effects of many illnesses.
With that being said, more research and trials are still needed to investigate the risks and maximize the benefits of EOs. However, based on medical literature the following are some of essential oils that have been found to help improve well-being and boost the body’s immunity.
Essential Oils for Well-Being
Rich in d-limonene, oils extracted from citrus plants like orange and lemon are believed to be highly effective at inhibiting tumor growth, according to PubChem.
“Although the mechanism of action has yet to be fully elucidated, limonene and its metabolites perillic acid, dihydroperillic acid, uroterpenol and limonene 1,2-diol may inhibit tumor growth through inhibition of p21-dependent signaling and may induce apoptosis via the induction of the transforming growth factor beta-signaling pathway.”
Popular for its relaxing properties, Lavender Essential Oil is considered a superhealer for its high antioxidant content. One of the main causes of cancer is the presence of free radicals in the body, and – according to one study – antioxidants from Lavender help protect the body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
In 2009, researchers conducted an in vitro study on 12 human cancer lines, and an in vivo anti-cancer experiments on mice. They discovered that essential oil from a lemon grass variety of Cymbopogon flexuosus showed promising anticancer activity, inhibiting tumor growth.
Recent studies have shown that Rosemary contains two ingredients, caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, that are considered potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents according to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. These properties help protect the body from free radical damage and detoxify substances that can cause breast cancer.
A study in 2010 tested 10 essential oils to see how they can stand up against cancer cells. Among the 10, essential oil from thyme exhibited the strongest cytotoxicity towards prostate, lung carcinoma, and breast cancers. This result was further verified when a group of researchers in 2012 were able to induce death in breast cancer cells up to 98%.
Aromatherapy has been used since the ancient times, and it’s amazing how we are slowly but surely embracing it as part of our health and wellness regimen. While it may never fully replace conventional medicine, this type of natural therapy makes an excellent complementary treatment.