AROMATHERAPY AND CANCER
In this ACRI report, aromatherapy as a healing art will be briefly examined (Section A). Thereafter, it’s role in general wellbeing will be reviewed. (Section B) In a third section, evidence that supports the use of aromatherapy for cancer care will be presented. (Section C). This post will conclude with a word on a few mechanisms of action that help why essential oils can be so useful for cancer control. (Section D)
SECTION A. INTRODUCTION
Aromatherapy is a derivative of herbal medicine, which is itself a subset of holistic medicine. Aromatherapy has been defined as the therapeutic use of volatile essential oils from plants for the improvement of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. As such, this healing art is profoundly holistic. (*)
Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes and for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.
The current applications of aromatherapy did not come about until the early 20th century when the French chemist and perfumer René Gattefosse coined the term “aromatherapy” and published a book of that name in 1937. Gattefosse proposed the use of aromatherapy to treat diseases in virtually every organ system, citing mostly anecdotal and case-based evidence.
Although Gattefosse and his colleagues in France, Italy, and Germany studied the effects of aromatherapy for some 30 years, its use went out of fashion midcentury as the chemical industries were developing. However, another Frenchman, a physician, Jean Valnet, in the latter part of the 20th century published his book The Practice of Aromatherapy in 1982, that which became a best-seller in France and often used French naturopaths. Joubert for example was trained by Professor Lautier in this realm, who was himself a student of Valnet.
In the United States, this healing art is quite recent and is full potential is quite under-used. Essential oils have been classified as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), at specified concentration limits, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thus, aromatherapy products do not need approval by the FDA.
Essential oils are made up of a varied array of chemical components that consist of the secondary metabolites found in various plant materials. The major chemical components of essential oils include, but are not limited to terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides, all of which are volatile and may produce characteristic odors.
Like with wines, different types of oils contain varying amounts of each of these compounds, which are said to give each oil its particular fragrance and therapeutic characteristics.
Mono and sequi-terpenes, which frankincense is endowed with, are anti-mitotics, meaning anti cell devision effects, thus, they can be used to control cancer’s unabated growth. Sequiterpenes also cross the blood brain barrier. And they can also help to oxygenate the pineal and pituitary glands and increase the activity of leukocytes in defense of the body against infection (see below).
Furthermore, different varieties of the same species may have different chemotypes (different chemical composition of the same plant species as a result of different harvesting methods or locations) and thus different types of effects. (1)
Synthetic odors are often made up of many of the same compounds, which are synthesized and combined with other novel odor-producing chemicals. However, synthetic fragrances frequently contain irritants, such as solvents and propellants, that can trigger sensitivities in some people. (2, 3, 4).
Contrarily to many conventional biochemists, most aromatherapists, including ACR Institute’s team, are of the opinion that synthetic fragrances are inferior to essential oils because they lack vital energy, that which is holistic in essence. (5)
SECTION B: AROMATHERAPY’S GENERAL HEALTH USES
Aromatherapy is used for a vast array of symptoms and conditions in both the psychological and somatic fields
MENTAL, SPIRITUAL AND SOMATIC WELLBEING
A large body of literature has been published on the effects of odors on the human brain and emotions. Some studies have tested the effects of essential oils on mood, alertness, and mental stress in healthy subjects. Other studies investigated the effects of various odors on task performance, reaction time, and autonomic parameters or evaluated the direct effects of odors on the brain via electroencephalogram patterns and functional imaging studies. (6)
These and other studies have consistently shown that odors can produce specific effects on human neuropsychological and autonomic function and that odors can influence mood, perceived health, and arousal, in particular pheromones, which can activated sexual receptors. These studies suggest that odors of aromatic essences may have therapeutic applications in the context of stressful and adverse psychological conditions (see clary sages role with cortisol reduction below) as well as boost hormones and wellbeing.
In addition to common topical antimicrobial uses, (6) aromatherapy has also been used in wound care (8,9) and to treat a variety of localized symptoms and illnesses such as alopecia, eczema, pruritus (10,11) and for respiratory issues. (12)
In addition, aromatherapy can be of benefit for sedation and arousal considerations (13 14) as well as for the improvement of reaction time (15 16), mood, anxiety, psychiatric disorders (23), chronic renal failure (24) and, inter alia, agitation in patients with dementia (17-34).
For those addicted to smoking, one of many other causes of cancer, aromatherapy can help with nicotine smoking withdrawal symptoms (35-36). For travelers, aromatic essences can benefit motion sickness (37) while surgical patients can mitigate postoperative nausea (38, 39) and pain thanks to the proper use of aromatic essences (40-42).
Numerous published studies on the topical antibacterial effects of essential oils have found essential oils to have significant antimicrobial activity. (43). Some essential oils are antiviral and inhibit replication of the herpes simplex virus. (44) Other essential oils are fungistatic and fungicidal against both vaginal and oropharyngeal Candida albicans..(45)
Aromatherapy has been shown to have healing effects on the immune system, notably when cortisol elevated stress occurs. (46, 47,48 49). For children and mothers, aromatherapy has been useful for acne, whooping cough (50), childbirth (51) intrapartum midwifery practice (52) and, inter alia, anxiety before abortion. (53) In this perspective, lavender essential oil was shown in a randomized clinical trial to relieve perineal discomfort following childbirth (54).
SECTION C. CANCER CARE
With regard to aromatherapy as a cancer adjuvant, most of the published peer-reviewed literature discusses how aromatic essences can help with quality-of-life and palliative measures such pain, nausea, lymphedema (55 56) stress, anxiety,(57) depression, (58) children with HIV, (59), leukemia (61) and other terminal diseases (60).
Aromatherapy has also been used to reduce necrotic ulcers in cancer patients.(62) while helping them with mental health issues (63) and their immune system. (64)
BIOCHEMICAL PATHWAYS AND MECHANISMS OF ACTION
This section is still under construction
Because essential oils penetrate both the brain blood and gut barriers, their molecules have biochemical consequences on multiple pathways including but not limited to the ones mentioned below.
ANTI INFLAMMATION PATHWAY
Triterpene acids have been show to activate the anti inflammation pathway. ( )
Banno N, Akihisa T, Yasukawa K, Tokuda H, Tabata K, Nakamura Y, Nishimura R, Kimura Y, Suzuki T. Anti-inflammatory activities of the triterpene acids from the resin of Boswellia carteri. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;107:249–253.
Singh GB, Atal CK. Pharmacology of an extract of salai guggal ex-Boswellia serrata, a new non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. Agents Actions. 1986;18:407–412.
Sharma ML, Khajuria A, Kaul A, Singh S, Singh GB, Atal CK. Effect of salai guggal ex-Boswellia serrata on cellular and humoral immune responses and leucocyte migration. Agents Actions. 1988;24:161–164.
HIGH FREQUENCY WITH NUCLEAR GENETICAL IMPACT
They did so by testing antibacterial potency as well as in vitro toxicology against human cancer cell lines.
Bruce Tanio, of Tainio Technology and head of the Department of Agriculture at Eastern Washington University, has developed a Calibrated Frequency Monitor (CFM) that has been used to measure the frequencies of essential oils and their effect on human frequencies when applied to the body. Essential Oils laboratory uses a CFM, and another is located at Johns Hopkins University where it is used to study frequency in relationship to disease.
“Cancer starts when the DNA code within the cell’s nucleus becomes corrupted,” says Immunologist Mahmoud Suhail. It seems some essential oils have a re-set function. It can tell the cell what the right DNA code should be.
PRO APOPTOSIS AND ANTI PROLIFERATIVE IMPACT
9 Hostanska K, Daum G, Saller R. Cytostatic and apoptosis-inducing activity of boswellic acids toward malignant cell lines in vitro. Anticancer Res. 2002;22:2853–2862. [PubMed]
10 Huang MT, Badmaev V, Ding Y, Liu Y, Xie JG, Ho CT. Anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities of triterpenoid, β-boswellic acid. BioFactors. 2000;13:225–230.
12 Akihisa T, Tabata K, Banno N, Tokuda H, Nishimura R, Nakamura Y, Kimura Y, Yasukawa K, Suzuki T. Cancer chemopreventive effects and cytotoxic activities of the triterpene acids from the resin of Boswellia carteri. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006;29:1976–1979. doi: 10.1248/bpb.29.1976. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
Liu JJ, Nilsson A, Oredsson S, Badmaev V, Duan RD. Keto- and acetyl-keto-boswellic acids inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in Hep G2 cells via a caspase-8 dependent pathway. Int J Mol Med. 2002;10:501–505.
Liu JJ, Nilsson A, Oredsson S, Badmaev V, Zhao WZ, Duan RD. Boswellic acids trigger apoptosis via a pathway dependent on caspase-8 activation but independent on Fas/Fas ligand interaction in colon cancer HT-29 cells. Carcinogenesis. 2002;23:2087–2093.
Copaiba has been noted to have anti-proliferative activity. This means that it can prevent the spread of cells, particularly malignant cells, into surrounding tissue. Research reported in December 2015 acknowledged that copaiba was indeed a potent anti-bacterial. But interestingly, the researchers also found it was able to kill MCF-7 breast cancer cells (these are estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor positive, infiltrating ductal carcinoma cells) better than doxorubicin (also known as Adriamycin or the “Red Devil”), a much-utilized chemotherapy drug for breast cancer.
An animal study reported in September 2015 showed that beta-caryophyllene that comes from copaiba potently inhibited the growth of solid tumors and lymph node metastasis (spread) in mice with melanoma. An older study released in December 2007 revealed that beta-caryophyllene significantly increased anti-cancer activity against several cancer cell lines, including the aforementioned MCF-7 cells. In fact, researchers stated that “beta-caryophyllene potentiated [increased the effect of] the anticancer activity of paclitaxel,” a chemotherapy drug favored by many oncologists. The combination of beta-caryophyllene and paclitaxel increased the activity of paclitaxel by about ten-fold, helping it work better.
• ß-caryophyllene Potently Inhibits Solid Tumor Growth and Lymph Node Metastasis of B16f10 Melanoma Cells in High-fat Diet-induced Obese C57bl/6n Mice
• Potentiating Effect of Beta-caryophyllene on Anticancer Activity of Alpha-humulene, Isocaryophyllene and Paclitaxel
11 Flavin DF. A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases. J Neurooncol. 2007;82:91–93. doi: 10.1007/s11060-006-9248-4. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
13 Safayhi H, Sailer ER, Ammon HP. Mechanism of 5-lipoxygenase inhibition by acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid. Mol Pharmacol. 1995;47:1212–1216. [PubMed]
CYTOTOXICITY AND NECROSIS
16 Park YS, Lee JH, Bondar J, Harwalkar JA, Safayhi H, Golubic M. Cytotoxic action of acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA) on meningioma cells. Planta Medica. 2002;68:397–401. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-32090. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
19 Zhao W, Entschladen F, Liu H, Niggemann B, Fang Q, Zaenker KS, Han R. Boswellic acid acetate induces differentiation and apoptosis in highly metastatic melanoma and fibrosarcoma cells. Cancer Detec Prev. 2003;27:67–75.
While in most of the other parts of the world, aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years, in the US, it’s been only since the end of the 20th century that American health practitioners have been timidly using aromatherapy, notably topically and via inhalation for issues relating to anxiety. (65)
Now that the FDA has considered essential oils generally safe (66), it may be useful to generalize its use not only for all cancer patients, but also for all other patients and consumers, given aromatherapy’s low cost, safety and proven efficiency.
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This report goes into more science that supports to use of essential oils for cancer and reviews multiple successful case studies, including from the Institute’s Pyrenean Holistic Center. The most efficient modalities and combinations of essential oils will also be presented.
REFERENCE AND PRECISION NOTES
(*) Essential oils are volatile liquid substances extracted from aromatic plant material by steam distillation or mechanical expression. Oils produced with the aid of chemical solvents are not considered true essential oils, because the solvent residues can alter the purity of the oils themselves and lead to adulteration of the fragrance or to skin irritation.
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66. The FDA does not regulate essential oils, but medical claims of efficiency are not allowed. If they were, Essential oils would be considered to be drugs and then they would fall under the FDA’s jurisdiction.
Disclaimer: This ACR Institute provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the use of aromatherapy and essential oils in the treatment of people with cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients and subsidiarily, for patients who feel they can benefit from this holistic wellbeing art. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions, let alone is the Institute making specific health claims. Presently, the FDA does not regulate aromatherapy, but its jurisdiction can prosecute practitioners who claim that aromatic essences have medical effects. To be in compliance with this dicktat, we need to remind the reader that nothing in this webpage has been evaluated by the FDA and that everything therein is pedagogical, not intended to treat a specific disease, if only because the FDA and AMA have granted themselves the exclusive monopoly in this realm.
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