By Sarah A LoBisco, ND
I’ve been very encouraged this month by the recent focus on the power of Essential Oils in the newsletters, journals, and blogs I’ve been reading. I have a very special place in my heart for Essential oils, as their use led me into a more integrative approach to medicine. This was from my own personal experience in their healing capacity. The use of Essential Oils had a huge impact in modulating the pain and assisting in healing of a herniated lumber disc I had that occurred right during mid-terms in medical school!
I have a small list of favorites in what I recommend to my clients. This is based on results in the real world. I usually will be my own guinea pig first (or a willing family member), and based on my own personal experience along with the positive feedback from most of my clients, therapeutic essential oils are one of the few on top!
Therefore, they are included in almost every wellness program I recommend. I realized recently that I don’t blog as much on this topic, maybe because including them may seem so obvious to me, I forget others don’t know about them!
The Power of Essential Oils
Essential Oils should not be confused with essential fatty acids, such as fish oils or olive oil. They are the aromatic volatile liquids found in shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds and have been referred to as, “life blood of the plant.” The highest quality oils are grown and sourced properly and extracted through steam distillation. This process must use optimal temperatures and pressure to maintain therapeutic constituents. Due to their high concentration of constituents in every drop, they tend to be far more potent than dry herbs and needed in smaller amounts.
The essential constituents in oils are necessary for the plant’s survival, providing defense molecules that account for their potent immune enhancing effects. They also contain oxygenating molecules, amino acids (protein precursors that aid in brain function and body health), and cellular signaling modulation. These are just some examples of the many benefits.
My favorite brand is Young Living as these are the most scientifically studied and validated. Many use oils that are not just the therapeutic component but contain additives. These are not what I use for medicinal reasons; however, they may offer benefits from the scent.
Below are some compilations from various sources I’ve saved over the past few months (emphasis mine). I also have more biochemical breakdowns of these oils in the category of “Essential Oils” on my site.
The Effects of Lavender Essential Oil For Preventing Fungus Growth
The antifungal activity of the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. (lavender oil) and its main components, linalool and linalyl acetate, was investigated against 50 clinical isolates of Candida albicans (28 oropharyngeal strains, 22 vaginal strains) and C. albicans ATCC 3153. Growth inhibition, killing time and inhibition of germ tube formation were evaluated. The chemical composition of the essential oil was determined by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
Lavender oil inhibited C. albicans growth: mean minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 0.69% (vol./vol.) (vaginal strains) and 1.04% (oropharyngeal strains); mean MFC of 1.1% (vaginal strains) and 1.8% (oropharyngeal strains). Linalool was more effective than essential oil: mean MIC of 0.09% (vaginal strains) and 0.29% (oropharyngeal strains); mean MFC of 0.1% (vaginal strains) and 0.3% (oropharyngeal strains). Linalyl acetate was almost ineffective.
F. D. D’Auria1, M. Tecca1, V. Strippoli1, G. Salvatore3, L. Battinelli2 and G. Mazzanti2. Antifungal activity of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil against Candida albicans yeast and mycelial form. Informa Helathcare. Medical Mycology. 2005, Vol. 43, No. 5 , Pages 391-396 (doi:10.1080/13693780400004810)Read More: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13693780400004810
Cinnamon Oil’s Prevention of Microbial Growth
French researchers in 2008 showed that at concentrations of 10 percent or less, cinnamon oil (essential oil) was effective against Staphylococcus, E. coli and several antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.1 Essential oils are the life blood of plants, and very powerful.
The health benefits of cinnamon oil range from stimulating the digestive to preventing viral and bacterial growth. Cinnamon oil is derived from the bark and leaves of the cinnamon plant, known botanically as cinnamonum zevlanicum…
Cinnamon oil may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes, and should be used only in diluted form, most commonly in a diffuser and not consumed internally. Consult a qualified professional before using cinnamon oil.
Gordon, A. Can Cinnamon Oil Fight this winter’s Microbial Assault? Green Med Newsletter. February 5, 2012. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/can-cinnamon-oil-fight-winters-microbial-assault?utm_source=GreenMedInfo+Weekly&utm_campaign=5ddc55292b-Greenmedinfo&utm_medium=email
Fennel Oil and Isolates of Acinetobacter baumanni
Acinetobacter is an opportunistic infection that can cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections.
The susceptibilities of isolates to different antibiotics were tested using agar disk diffusion method. The rates of resistance were determined to antibiotics as follows: cefazolin 100%, ciprofloxacin 100%, ofloxacin 95.8%, kanamycin 95.8%, carbenicillin 93.7%, ticarcillin 93.7%, piperacillin 88.9%, co-trimoxazole 79.1%, ceftizoxime 75%, gentamicin 70.8%, cefalotin 60.4%, amikacin 52% and imipenem 14.6%. Fennel essential oil possessed antibacterial effect against all isolates of A. baumannii. These results suggest the potential use of the Fennel essential oil for the control of multi-drug resistant A. baumannii infections
H Jazani, M Zartoshti, H Babazadeh, N Ali-daiee, S Zarrin, S Hosseini. Antibacterial effects of Iranian fennel essential oil on isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii. Pak J Biol Sci. 2009 May 1;12(9):738-41. PMID: 19634482
The Many Powers of Peppermint
It’s not just a breath freshener or a potent oil for digestive complaints!
Here’s a summary of some actions of peppermint from Green Med Info:
- Breastfeeding Associated Nipple Pain and Damage: A 2007 study found that peppermint water prevented nipple cracks and nipple pain in breastfeeding mothers.[xii]
- Support for Respiratory Exacerbation Symptoms: A 2009 study found that inhaled essential oil of peppermint was able to rapidly regress tuberculous inflammation…[xiii]
- Prevention of Uncomfortable Nasal Symptoms: A 2001 preclinical study found that extracts of the leaves of peppermint inhibit histamine release indicating it may be clinically effective in alleviating the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis.[xiv]
- Shingles Associated Pain Support (Post-Herpetic Neuralgia): A 2002 case study found that topical peppermint oil treatment resulted in a near immediate improvement of shingles associated neuropathic pain symptoms; the therapeutic effects persisted throughout the entire 2 months of follow-up treatment. [xv]
- Memory problems: A 2006 study found that the simple aroma of peppermint enhances memory and increases alertness in human subjects.[xvi]
- Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea: A 2013 study found that peppermint oil was found to be effective in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea, and at reduced cost versus standard drug-based treatment.[xvii]
- Prostate Cancer Tumor Cell Inhibition in Studies: Preclinical research indicates that peppermint contains a compound known as menthol which inhibits prostate cancer growth in cell lines.[xviii] [xix]
- Radiation Damage: Preclinical research indicates peppermint protects against radiation-induced DNA damage and cell death.[xx] [xxi]
- Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Inhibition in Studies: Peppermint has been found to have inhibitory activity against acyclovir-resistant Herpes Simplex virus type 1.[xxii] [xxiii]
- Dental Care/Bad Breath Support: Peppermint oil extract has been found to be superior to the mouthwash chemical chlorhexidine inhibiting Streptococus mutans driven biofilm formation associated with dental caries.[xxiv] [xxv] This may explain why powdered peppermint leaves were used in the Middle Ages to combat halitosis and whiten teeth.
Ji, S. The Power of Peppermint: 15 Health Benefits Revealed. GreenMedInfo.com. March 19, 2013. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/power-peppermint-15-health-benefits-revealed?utm_source=GreenMedInfo+Weekly&utm_campaign=096bab636a-Greenmedinfo&utm_medium=email
Supporting the Immune System with Oregano
Essential oils can help support the immune system. According to Fox News:They also happen to smell pretty great. Diffuse grade A essential oils throughout your home, or apply them topically to your skin. Apply some oregano oil to your back, chest and bottoms of your feet.
Deirdre Imus. Natural ways to prevent the flu this winter. FoxNews.com. January 9, 2013. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/01/09/natural-ways-to-prevent-flu-this-winter/#ixzz2M9ds7q00
Rosemary and Memory
The scent of rosemary essential oil has been found to boost healthy adults’ ability to both recall past events and remember to do things, such as send a birthday note or take medication, at the right time.
Researchers, who presented their findings at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Harrogate, England, this week, said the results could improve the lives of those suffering from memory problems.
AFP Relax News. A Whiff of Rosemary May Boost Your Memory: Study. NY Daily News. April 11, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/whiff-rosemary-boost-memory-study-article-1.1314051?localLinksEnabled=false
Of course, all supplements and products are based on the individual’s need; there is no “panacea” because everyone is different needing different supplements or different oils at different times. The good news is, when used properly and for the right person for the right reason, essential oils are profound for brain health and immune function. Furthermore, for most people, they are important as natural cleaners for homes and offer environmental protection. So, consider smelling prettier as you get healthier! 🙂
Dr. LoBisco. The Latest, the Greatest, and the Sexist Nutrients Around: Ode to the Panacea Dance. February 26, 2011. http://dr-lobisco.com/the-latest-the-greatest-and-the-sexiest-nutrients-around-ode-to-the-panacea-dance/
Dr. LoBisco. Why Choose Individualized Supplements2. July 20, 2012. http://dr-lobisco.com/why-choose-individualized-supplements-2/