North America: Tea Tree and Monarda
Tea tree oils has received wide distribution as a nail fungus remedy and an addition to shampoo. It is a safe and commonly used antimicrobial agent even outside the aromatherapy community. Tea tree Plantation in Ballina, NSW. Tea tree is every farmers dream, as it grows without needing to much attention, and when the plants are at an appropriate height they are cut off with a combine, only to grow back without much ado.
Once the essential oil is distilled, the value of the oil is documented with analysis, showing that the right components are present in the appropriate concentrations.
On the other end of the spectrum is Monarda fistulosa from Quebec, an aromatherapy speciality. It has a brilliant fragrance and, for most individuals , leaves a slightly sharp but pleasant tingle on the skin when used in the shower. It is one of the most effective antiviral essential oils and is effective for upper respiratory and urogenital infections.
Effects Mediated via the Autonomic Nervous System
Classic studies were published by H. Wagner 1973, in which spasmolytic (relieving cramps, spasms, and convulsions) and sedative effects were shown for essential oils in different pharmacological models. The ability of essential oils to release ameliorate anxiety, heart palpitations, nervousness, and heat flashes was demonstrated in a double blind studies in the 1970s.
Contributors to Aromatherapy
It is almost impossible to overestimate Dr. Rolf Deininger's contributions to the scientific exploration of essential oils. Among his numerous contributions is what probably constitutes the key study about the antiviral effects of essential oils.
Like so many who pursue recognition of the healing properties of plants with the means of science, Dr. Deininger also has a fascination with the historic and cultural aspects of medicine. In 1998 he published Kultur and Kult in der Medizin, an exploration of medicine in the context of philosophical trends throughout history. Dr Deininger is also an accomplished artist.
In the middle of the twentieth century, an accumulation of data on essential oil pharmacology was afforded by the experimental methods of the time. There was a strong emphasis on antimicrobial activity and also on effects that can be characterized by measuring tone or tension in muscle or nerve tissue.
Then, as more refined methods became available in the 1980s and 1990s, the effects of essential oils on chronic, metabolic, and hormonal diseases were recognized. In the late 1990s there was a proliferation of research on the antitumor effects of terpenoid and also other essential oil components.
Research had already progressed to successful clinical trials. Then, in 2001, all of a sudden the research stopped. Why this promising development was not pursued more vigorously, and was apparently even abandoned, is anybody's guess. It does not appear too outlandish to suspect reservations on the part of corporate pharmacology about remedies that might be too cheap and too accessible.
As physiological activity was discovered for a growing number of essential oil components, the active ingredient concept was expanded to allow for multiple active components and for resulting synergistic effects. But whenever a new type of activity was reported, the most common terpene molecules were implicated again and again as the responsible substances.
From antiviral and antitumor to influencing the calcium uptake, ubiquitous compounds like linalool and limonene were credited with a growing portfolio of pharmacological properties. Assuming that an active ingredient produces only one or two specific effects was simply no longer describing the reality that could be observed.
Nonetheless, scientific understanding of essential oil activity remained based on variations of the active ingredient concept. And in fairness, it must be said that this approach did produce valuable insights. Even late in the twentieth century important discoveries were made. A few of the findings are mentioned here.
Components in Helichrysum italicum have been shown to mediate their tissue protective and regenerative quality by effectively scavenging free radicals.
Studies by Muhlbauer, Lozano, Palacio, Reinli and Felix established common essential oils as unexpected and effective agents to prevent osteoporosis, the loss of bony tissue associated with low levels of estrogen.
PMS and menopausal complaints:
Vitex agnus has been shown to be a singularly effective agent to re-equilibrate progesterone and estrogen levels and to have pronounced benefits for PMS and menopausal complaints.
Hepatitis B and C:
Long-term clinical studies by Dr. Anne-Marie Giraud-Robert have shown that various oils are effective in the treatment of hepatitis B and C, but no mechanisms have been proposed at this point.
Abstract of the Original Study on Essential Oils and Bone Integrity-Scientific Context
Performed by Bone Biology Group, Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Switzerland (Muhlbauer, Lozano, Palacio, Reinli, Felix)
"Common Herbs, Essential Oils, and Monoterpenes Potently Modulate Bone Metabolism"
During our survey of herbs looking for activity on bone metabolism, we found that the dried leaves of sage strongly inhibit bone resorption. Therefore, we investigated several common herbs rich in essential oils (Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme) and essential oils extracted from these herbs and other plants (oils of Sage, Rosemary, Juniper, Pine, Dwarf Pine, Turpentine, and Eucalyptus) as well as their monoterpene components (thujone, eucalyptol, camphor, borneol, thymol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bornylacetate as well as menthol) and found that they inhibit bone resorption when added to the food of rats.
Pine oil, used as a representative essential oil, protects an osteoporosis model, the aged ovariectomized rat, from bone loss. The monoterpenes borneol, thymol, and camphor are directly inhibitory in the osteoclast [large cells, responsible for the breakdown of bones] resorption pit assay.
Nonpolar monoterpenes may require metabolism to be active in vitro, for example, cis-verbenol, a metabolite of alpha-pinene occurring in human urine, inhibits osteoclast activity in contrast to the parent compound. Within 30 min. borneol inhibits the formation of acting rings, a characteristic of resorbing osteoclasts indicating cell polarization.
Both the in vitro and the in vivo effects of borneol are reversible. Our study demonstrates for the first time that essential oils and monoterpenes are efficient inhibitors of bone resorption in the rat.
Essential oil Activity on the Cellular Plane
While conventional research led to many invaluable revelations about the healing properties of essential oils, many of the insights that have emerged more recently arise from innovative research taking place at the interface between chemistry and biology. To facilitate our discussion of these newly evolving concepts, we shall briefly present the understanding of cells, their makeup, and especially some of the relevant processes on the cellular level as they have been expressed in bio-and cellular chemistry in the last decades of the twentieth century.
Proteins 10-15%,functional components, enzymes receptors, etc
Lipids 2-5%, phospholipids, membranes
DNA 0.5% genetic code
RNA 0.5-1% linked chains, backbone of the double helix.
Salt (Ions) 1.5%, vital for signaling
Amino Acids and Proteins
The 10,000 different proteins of the human body are built of 20 amino acids.
Essential amino acids are not produced by the human body.
Amino acids have a carboxylic acid (acidic) and an amino group (alkaline).
The presence of amino acids results in an amphoteric character.
Carboxyl can bond with the amino group and form a peptide bond: by repeating this process amino acids can build chains.
Long amino acid chains twist, fold and rotate to form three-dimensional proteins.
hence proteins have the following types of structures:*Primary,* Secondary (a-Helix, b-Sheet)*Tertiary,*Quaternary
Phospholipids: The Skeleton of Biomembranes
Glycerin is a C -3 molecule, where a hydroxyl (alcohol) group is attached to each carbon atom.
As alcohols react with acids to form esters, both fatty acids and phosphoric acid react with glycerin to form a triester.
Fatty acids are acidic because of their carboxyl group. Unsaturated fatty acids are a vital component of membrane phospholipids.
Phosphoric acid is H-3PO-4
Phosphoric acid + glycerin = glycerin-3phosphate (phosphoglycerin).
Fatty acids can esterify with phosphoglycerin.
The phosphate residue can continue to esterify (e.g. with cholin = trimethylethanolamin).
Sugar and Carbohydrates
Sugars are polyalcohols with an aldehyde- or keto-group, called aidoses or ketoses.
Sugars are named according to the number of C-atoms, trioses, tetroses, pentoses, hexoses and so on.
Sugars easily form rings: pyranoses, furanoses in many different stereo-isometric forms.
Sugar can bond with sugar; the elimination of water creates a glucosidic bond.
Several sugar molecules of the same or different kind can form chains.
DNA and RNA are nucleic acids: multiple molecules of different categories.
Nucleic acids are natural polymers consisting of many nucleotide building blocks.
Nucleotides consist of phosphoric acid, sugar (pentose), and base (pyrimidine and purine.)
DNA: the sugar is D-Deoxyribose; the bases can be thymine, cytosine, adenine, and guanine.
RNA: the sugar is D-Ribose; the thymine base is replaced by uracyl.
Reference: The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy: Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D