Chemical compound found in essential oils improves wound healing, IU study finds – Indiana University – Dec-2019
Many alternative medicine therapies seem implausible, hopelessly “woo-woo”, and have effects for only a few specific individuals. Yet, it’s possible that science just hasn’t advanced far enough to find the underlying explanations for them yet.
Every now and then, scientists discover how some “primitive” medicinal treatments used for thousands of years (poppies) actually has a scientific basis (poppies contain opium which binds to receptors on our cells to relieve pain),
Indiana University researchers have discovered that a chemical compound found in essential oils improves the healing process in mice when it is topically applied to a skin wound — a finding that could lead to improved treatments for skin injuries in humans.
IU scientists also reported that skin tissue treated with the chemical compound, beta-carophyllene — which is found in lavender, rosemary and ylang ylang, as well as various herbs and spices such as black pepper — showed increased cell growth and cell migration critical to wound healing.
They also observed increased gene expression of hair follicle stem cells in the treated tissue.
The scientists did not find any involvement of the olfactory system in the wound healing.
It seems ironic that the benefits of “essential oil” or even “aromatherapy” might not be from the smell we notice but rather some biochemical reaction with specific human cells.
Their research was published Dec. 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Essential oils are natural, concentrated oils extracted from plants.
Their use by humans dates back to ancient Egypt, but the scented oils have experienced a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years, with many people using them for aromatherapy.
Koyama knew that beta-caryophyllene activates not only olfactory receptors but also cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), which has anti-inflammatory impact when it is activated.
Koyama said she wouldn’t recommend that people start treating their injuries with just any essential oils, as her research applies to
- a very specific chemical compound
- with known purity,
- diluted in a specific concentration.
This is a big problem with “supplements”: there can be tremendous variations in quality and quantity even when the same label is slapped on the bottle. I’m glad to have the freedom to experiment with OTC supplements, but I know there’s a risk.
And according to some recent articles, even pharmaceutical medications suffer from outrageous quality problems, especially when so many generics are manufactured in other countries with questionable scientific rigor:
- Generic Drugs Are Poisoning Us
- The Truth About Generic Vs. Brand-Name Medications
- Are Generics Equivalent to Brand Medications?
- No one knows what’s in our medications
- ‘Scary World’ of Generic Drug Manufacturing
“We still need thorough scientific studies at the chemical-compound level and also to test the combinations of these chemical compounds,” Koyama said.
“For example, there are studies showing that linalool — another compound found in lavender — can suppress anxiety through the olfactory system.
There could be the best combinations of chemical compounds at specific ratios, and we might be able to do prescriptions of aroma chemical compounds, depending on the specific treatment goals.
This is why we shouldn’t write off “alternative medicine” completely because these implausible ideas may contain clues for medical developments.