1. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 15;11:129.

Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and
suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells.

Suhail MM, Wu W, Cao A, Mondalek FG, Fung KM, Shih PT, Fang YT, Woolley C, Young 
G, Lin HK.

Al Afia Medical Complex, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman.

BACKGROUND: Gum resins obtained from trees of the Burseraceae family (Boswellia
sp.) are important ingredients in incense and perfumes. Extracts prepared from
Boswellia sp. gum resins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and
anti-neoplastic effects. Essential oil prepared by distillation of the gum resin 
traditionally used for aromatic therapy has also been shown to have tumor
cell-specific anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities. The objective of
this study was to optimize conditions for preparing Boswellea sacra essential oil
with the highest biological activity in inducing tumor cell-specific cytotoxicity
and suppressing aggressive tumor phenotypes in human breast cancer cells.
METHODS: Boswellia sacra essential oil was prepared from Omani Hougari grade
resins through hydrodistillation at 78 or 100 °C for 12 hours. Chemical
compositions were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; and total
boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid
chromatography. Boswellia sacra essential oil-mediated cell viability and death
were studied in established human breast cancer cell lines (T47D, MCF7,
MDA-MB-231) and an immortalized normal human breast cell line (MCF10-2A).
Apoptosis was assayed by genomic DNA fragmentation. Anti-invasive and
anti-multicellular tumor properties were evaluated by cellular network and
spheroid formation models, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to
study Boswellia sacra essential oil-regulated proteins involved in apoptosis,
signaling pathways, and cell cycle regulation.
RESULTS: More abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic
acids, were present in Boswellia sacra essential oil prepared at 100 °C
hydrodistillation. All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to
essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death,
whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to
essential oil treatment. Boswellia sacra essential oil hydrodistilled at 100 °C
was more potent than the essential oil prepared at 78 °C in inducing cancer cell 
death, preventing the cellular network formation (MDA-MB-231) cells on Matrigel, 
causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and
regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle
CONCLUSIONS: Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, 
Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity.
Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development 
of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the
essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the
essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have
been proposed as therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Future pre-clinical and
clinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of
Boswellia sacra essential oil as a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer.

PMCID: PMC3258268
PMID: 22171782  [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Biochemical and Pharmacological Applications of Essential Oils in Human Health Especially in Cancer Prevention



Background: Essential oils (EOs) are aromatic, volatile and concentrated hydrophobic liquids extracted from plant material. EOs are also called as ethereal oils, volatile oils or aetherolea. EOs also play a crucial role in plant defence and signalling processes. They are mostly used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products for flavouring food, drinks, adding scents to incense and household cleaning products. EOs have a long medicinal history.
Methods: Reported research literature and online contents related to the use of EOs for their biochemical pharmacological applications in cancer prevention therapy were reviewed. The most relevant and updated citations were included in this review.
Results: This review elaborates the various types of EOs, their biochemical characteristics, and pharmacology. Medicinal benefits of essential oil products range from various skin treatments to different types of therapies for cancer and are dependent entirely on historical backgrounds of use of EOs for these properties. EOs have antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, antiparasitical, insecticidal, anti-inflammatory, viricidal, fungicidal, wound healing, antihypertensive, analgesic properties and other medicinal properties. The efficiency of EOs in medical treatments and treatment of cancers are these days a subject of interest in most countries.
Conclusion: This review elaborated the potentials of EOs in regulating cancer cell growth and have explored the probable EOs that can be used in drug development.
Keywords: Essential oils; anticancer; apoptosis; biomedical effects; hydrophobic liquids; natural prevention..

Copyright© Bentham Science Publishers; For any queries, please email at

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COVID-19 and therapy with essential oils having antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties

Free PMC article

Erratum in


Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a global health threat. Unfortunately, there are very limited approved drugs available with established efficacy against the SARs-CoV-2 virus and its inflammatory complications. Vaccine development is actively being researched, but it may take over a year to become available to general public. Certain medications, for example, dexamethasone, antimalarials (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine), antiviral (remdesivir), and IL-6 receptor blocking monoclonal antibodies (tocilizumab), are used in various combinations as off-label medications to treat COVID-19. Essential oils (EOs) have long been known to have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, bronchodilatory, and antiviral properties and are being proposed to have activity against SARC-CoV-2 virus. Owing to their lipophilic nature, EOs are advocated to penetrate viral membranes easily leading to membrane disruption. Moreover, EOs contain multiple active phytochemicals that can act synergistically on multiple stages of viral replication and also induce positive effects on host respiratory system including bronchodilation and mucus lysis. At present, only computer-aided docking and few in vitro studies are available which show anti-SARC-CoV-2 activities of EOs. In this review, role of EOs in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is discussed. A discussion on possible side effects associated with EOs as well as anti-corona virus claims made by EOs manufacturers are also highlighted. Based on the current knowledge a chemo-herbal (EOs) combination of the drugs could be a more feasible and effective approach to combat this viral pandemic.
Keywords: Docking studies; Essential oils; Immunomodulatory; SARC-CoV-2.

Conflict of interest statement

Essential oil suppliers’/sellers’ names mentioned in the manuscript were taken from FDA letters and we do not intend to harm or damage their business repute. This review is purely for academic purposes. The authors declare no conflict of interest in the current work.


Fig. 1

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Randomized Controlled Trial
2006 Dec;36(7):1123-34.
 doi: 10.4040/jkan.2006.36.7.1123.

[The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension]

[Article in Ko]


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of aromatherapy on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension.
Method: There were fifty-two subjects divided into an essential oil group, placebo group, and control group by random assignment. The application of aromatherapy was the inhalation method of blending oils with lavender, ylangylang, and bergamot once daily for 4 weeks. To evaluate the effects of aromatherapy, blood pressure and pulse were measured two times a week and serum cortisol levels, catecholamine levels, subjective stress, and state anxiety were measured before and after treatment in the three groups. Data was analyzed by repeated measures of ANOVA, one-way ANOVA, and chi(2)-test using the SPSS 10.0 program.
Results: The blood pressure, pulse, subjective stress, state anxiety, and serum cortisol levels among the three groups were significantly statistically different. The differences of catecholamine among the three groups were not significant statistically.
Conclusion: The results suggest that the inhalation method using essential oils can be considered an effective nursing intervention that reduces psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels, as well as the blood pressure of clients with essential hypertension.

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Randomized Controlled Trial
2018 Jun;110(3):265-269.
 doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2017.06.010. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on the Symptoms of Menopause



Objectives: The menopause is a natural biological process that is happened by a permanent regal stop due to the loss of performance. The aim of this research is to evaluate the effect of lavender aromatherapy on the menopause symptoms.
Study design: This double-blind cross over clinical trial carried out on 100 menopause women (between 45 and 155 years old) referring to health centers in Ardabil in 2013-14. The samples blocked randomly, placed in two experimental (Lavender) and control (diluted milk) groups. Lavender aroma is smelled two times daily for 20 min during 12 weeks by research subjects. Data were collected by Green questionnaire and the analysis of data carried out in SPSS v.16 by paired t-test.
Main outcome measures: The level of the symptoms has been decreased significantly after using lavender.
Results: Comparing the level of the symptoms before and after using lavender in experimental group suggested that the rate of the menopause symptoms has been decreased significantly (P = 0.000). The comparison of the mean of the menopause symptoms after intervention between two groups suggested that the menopause symptoms in the experimental group had a significant decrease comparing the control group (P = 0.000).
Conclusion: Using the lavender aromatherapy decreases menopause symptoms. According to the undesirable effect of the menopause symptoms on the quality of life of the menopausal women, these interventions may be instructed by midwives in the treatment and care centers as a health activity.
Keywords: Aromatherapy; Lavender oil; Menopause.

Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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Randomized Controlled Trial
2019 Dec;25(12):1193-1199.
 doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0222. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

Trial of Essential Oils to Improve Sleep for Patients in Cardiac Rehabilitation



Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine if there was a significant difference between the sleep quality of patients who inhaled placebo and those who inhaled an aroma comprising a mixture of Lavandula x intermedia (Lavandin Super), Citrus bergamia (bergamot), and Cananga odorata (ylang ylang). Design: This was a randomized, double-blind crossover study, which compared a treatment with placebo. Settings/location: The study was conducted in an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation unit located in an urban, private nonprofit hospital in north Texas. Subjects: Participants included 42 adult patients referred to the rehabilitation service following hospitalizations by local cardiologists. Interventions: Cotton balls infused with a combination of lavender, bergamot, and ylang ylang or placebo were placed at subjects' bedsides for five nights. After a washout period, subjects crossed over to the other condition for five nights. Outcome measures: Participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) after treatment and placebo periods. Lower PSQI scores indicate better sleep quality. Results: The mean PSQI global score was statistically significantly lower when receiving the intervention oil (mean = 4.9) than the mean PSQI global score when receiving placebo (mean = 8). Duration of sleep and the time it took to fall asleep were no different between treatment groups, but patient-reported sleep quality was significantly better when participants were exposed to essential oils (χ2 = 4.5, p = 0.03) than when exposed to placebo. Although sleep efficiency (time asleep while lying in bed) was perceived as the same under both conditions, participants reported that they had to get up to use the bathroom significantly less often when exposed to the treatment than when exposed to placebo (t = -2.04, p = 0.05; Wilcoxon p = 0.05). Participants also reported that they had trouble sleeping because they felt too cold, which occurred significantly less often when exposed to the treatment than when exposed to placebo (t = -2.03, p = 0.05; Wilcoxon p = 0.05). Conclusions: Sleep quality of participants receiving intervention oils was significantly better than the sleep quality of participants receiving the placebo oil. Low-cost, nontraditional aromatherapy treatment is potentially effective for improving sleep quality among cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Keywords: bergamot; cardiac rehabilitation; essential oils; lavender; sleep; ylang ylang.

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2019 Sep;134:103580.
 doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2019.103580. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

A comprehensive review of the antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral potential of essential oils and their chemical constituents against drug-resistant microbial pathogens



Essential oils are a complex mixture of odoriferous, volatile organic compounds. There are an extensive number of published articles which highlight the antimicrobial action of a variety of essential oils from various parts of the world. The main aim of this review article is to compile these antimicrobial essential oils and their constituents from reliable sources and put them together. The published literature indicates that essential oils possess a wide-spectrum of antibacterial, antifungal and even anti-viral activity. Essential oils have also been shown to inhibit the growth of drug-resistant microbial strains which are even difficult to be treated by conventional antibiotics. As for as their mode of action is concerned, in fungal pathogens, essential oils establish a membrane potential across cell wall and disrupt ATP assembly, leading to cell wall damage. Essential oils can also disintegrate mitochondrial membrane interfering with the electron transport system (ETS) pathway. In bacterial pathogens, essential oils primarily destabilize the cellular architecture, leading to breakdown of membrane integrity, disrupting many cellular activities including energy production and membrane transport. Membrane rupture induced by essential oils can lead to leakage of cellular components and loss of ions. Several essential oils have antiviral activities against many RNA and DNA viruses, such as type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2), dengue virus type 2, influenza virusadeno virus type 3, poliovirus, Junin virus, and coxsackievirus B1. In conclusion, the current review article discusses in detail the various aspects of antimicrobial activity of essential oils in a comprehensive manner.
Keywords: Antibacterial; Antibiotic; Antifungal; Antiviral; Essential oils; Infection; Terpenes.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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