As the western world continues to slash (surgery), burn (radiation), and poison (chemotherapy) patients with cancer, researchers in other parts of the world are discovering powerfully effective anti-cancer substances found in nature.
Essential oils have long been used for aromatherapy, but research has found that they can do far more than provide just a pleasing smell. A 2012 study in China tested some of the most popular essential oils currently being used including mint, ginger, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, thyme, rose, and cinnamon.
Each essential oil was tested for its antibacterial potency and its in vitro toxicology against breast cancer cells (MCF-7), lung cancer cells (A-549) and prostate cancer cells (PC-3).
Essential Oils Antibacterial Potency
Although chamomile ranked high on the list for antibacterial potency, the most potent antibacterial essential oils were found to be rose, cinnamon, thyme, and lavender essential oils. These oils showed great efficiency, wiping out the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, or P. Acnes, the microorganism supposedly responsible for acne, in only five minutes.
“The bactericidal activities of the other essential oils decreased in the order: chamomile > grapefruit = lemon > ginger > mint > jasmine,” adds the study. “The bacteria were completely killed after 20 [minutes] by chamomile essential oil, 30 [minutes] by grapefruit and lemon essential oils, and 45 [minutes] by ginger essential oil.”
Essential Oils and Toxicity to Cancer Cells
Were the essential oils effective at killing the breast cancer cells? You bet they were. The following four essential oils proved to be significantly more effective at eliminating the breast cancer cells, in order from most powerful to least: thyme, jasmine, cinnamon, and chamomile. In the lab, chamomile killed up to 93% of breast cancer cells, and thyme oil was even more effective, eliminating a staggering 97% of breast cancer cells.
Antioxidant Effect of Essential Oils
Chamomile oil is said to have been used to effectively treat serious conditions like inflammation (antophlogistic), migraine headaches, upset stomach and flatulence, parasites (anthelmintic), and more.
How does it work? Research suggests that chamomile’s beneficial effects could be in part by its ability to eliminate free radicals from the body. A study published in the journal Industrial Crops and Products found that chamomile oil has a powerful antioxidant effect. Researchers studied 12 essential oils to see how vigorous they were at detoxifying free radicals inside the body. The 11 essential oils were: lavender, thyme, winter savory, rosemary, sage, peppermint, chamomile, roman chamomile, french tarragon, bitter and sweet fennel. Of all the oils tested, roman chamomile was found to have the highest antioxidant activity.
“Thyme and winter savory oils exhibited the greatest inhibition against the growth of all the tested organisms possibly due to the high content of thymol and carvacrol respectively,” the study abstract explains.