As more studies on natural therapies are being done, it is becoming clear that people don’t have to solely rely on prevailing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate cancer.
Holistic treatments are widespread and a quick look at the Internet will provide you with a wide array of online resources on the topic. Of all the most well-known solutions available today, essential oils and cancer research have attracted attention and it’s easy to know why.
Essential Oils And Cancer Research
There are four truths about cancer and essential oils (EOs):
1. Research reveals that oils can aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer at the cellular level. They have also been shown to be very effective at minimizing the side effects of cancer, as well as the effects brought about by cancer treatments.
2. It is vital to understand that this is not an all-or-nothing method. You can still use essential oils while undergoing chemotherapy. Many patients and healthcare professionals simply consider natural and allopathic therapies as separate entities and do not recognize the need to use them together.
3. We need to see things from another angle and remember that the peer-reviewed articles about the capability of essential oils to prevent, stop, and even reverse the spread of cancer are in vitro. This means there aren’t many human trials that involve a considerable number of participants.
Instead, we have studies that use human cells in a petri dish. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these studies are futile. Remember that using essential oil therapy for cancer is still experimental.
4. There are a significant number of people on the Internet who claim that EOs have helped treat their cancer. These results cannot be disputed because most of them are simply from people who are not selling anything. These are bonafide medical “miracles,” which will be used for further research.
8 Best Essential Oils For Cancer Patients
Of all of the studies on essential oils, here are some that explain how essential oil therapy can help patients with cancer.
1. Citrus Oils
The most popular and important component of citrus oils is d-limonene, which has been found to be a powerful cancer-fighting agent. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s open chemistry database, PubChem:
“D-Limonene is an oral dietary supplement, containing a natural cyclic monoterpene and major component of the oil extracted from citrus peels with potential chemopreventive and antitumor activities. Although the mechanism of action has yet to be fully elucidated, limonene and its metabolites perillic acid, dihydroperillic acid, uroterpenol, and limonene 1,2-diol may inhibit tumor growth through inhibition of p21-dependent signaling and may induce apoptosis via the induction of the transforming growth factor – beta-signaling pathway. In addition, they inhibit post-translational modification of signal transduction proteins, resulting in G1 cell cycle arrest as well as differential expression of cell-cycle and apoptosis-related genes.”
2. Clary Sage
Sclareol – the major ingredient of clary sage essential oil – has potentially powerful anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies. Studies dating back from 1999 to just recently have revealed how it affects the way cancer cells spread by eliminating them via a process called apoptosis.1 2
Apoptosis causes cancer cells to commit “suicide” through programmed cell death. This suggests that clary sage oil could have significant effects on preventing and treating cancer.
Clary sage contains phytoestrogens that are commonly avoided by people with cancers caused by estrogen. Hopefully, more studies will be conducted to help change the view that cancer patients should avoid certain oils because they contain phytoestrogens, which, in theory, can make cancer worse.
Of all the essential oils capable of combating cancer, frankincense (Boswellia sacra, B. carterii, B. frereana, and B. serrata) is the most disputable. Studies on frankincense are being closely looked at because of their industry bias, with some of them claiming that frankincense oil doesn’t have chemical compounds that can kill cancer. However, when you do an online search, you’ll see a lot of positive testimonials and healing stories. It is hard to disregard thousands of people who claim that frankincense helped treat their cancer.
The biggest problem some chemists and aromatherapists have about frankincense is that it might contain boswellic acids (BAs), which have been found to be “cytotoxic to ovarian cancer cells at pharmacologically achievable concentrations” and “may form the basis of a novel anticancer treatment for ovarian cancer, perhaps alongside conventional chemotherapy.”3
Including frankincense, essential oils in a healthcare routine can do more than just fight tumors. For people undergoing conventional anti-cancer procedures, the pain and other side-effects can be more problematic than the disease itself. This is particularly true for those with brain cancer, who often experience cerebral edema after surgery or radiation therapy. Steroid treatment may also make these side-effects worse.
Frankincense extract can aid in this problem. A 2011 clinical study of 44 patients found that swelling was reduced by 75% or more among 60% of the patients with cerebral edema after taking 4200 mg/day of a Boswellia serrata (BS) extract. The scientists deduced that “BS could potentially be steroid-sparing for patients receiving brain irradiation.”10
Antioxidants are a big help when healing our body. Free radicals, on the other hand, are caused by chemicals, pollutants, stress, and toxins. They can cause cellular damage, weaker immune systems, and other health issues. In short, antioxidants are the superheroes while free radicals are their super nemeses.
The human body produces antioxidants in the form of catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) among others. However, when it is frequently exposed to free radicals, naturally occurring antioxidants can be drained quickly.
It has been found that lavender essential oil can improve the levels of all three enzymes in mice within the first day of the treatment, plus it can safeguard brain cells from stroke and other damage.13
Romanian scientists observed similar activity through the inhalation of lavender for one hour daily. The study said, “Taken together, our results suggest that antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities – of healthy brain cells – of the lavender essential oils are the major mechanisms for their potent neuroprotective effects against scopolamine-induced oxidative stress in the rat brain.”14
A number of studies looked at the potential of lemongrass essential oil to combat cancer.15 A 2009 article studied the in vitro cytotoxicity ability of the essential oil of Cymbopogon flexuosus (a variety of lemongrass) against 12 human cancer cell lines and its anti-cancer effect on mice in vivo. The results were groundbreaking.
It was found that the essential oil activates a number of mechanisms that eliminate cancer cells. Results indicated that the oil has the potential to deter cancer activity and make tumor cells less prominent by triggering the apoptotic process.16
In 2013, a study published in the journal Oncology Letters revealed that myrrh has more anticancer properties than frankincense.17
For years, resins from frankincense and myrrh trees have been used in Chinese medicine to treat inflammatory diseases and blood stagnation. They also offer effective relief from swelling and pain.18
Although the researchers failed to find a synergistic effect regarding cancer, a previous study found that combining myrrh and frankincense oils produces synergistic effects on the harmful bacterial infections Cryptococcus neoformans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.19 20
7. Peppermint And Spearmint
BioMed Research International published an article in 2014 revealing that peppermint and spearmint are very good at dealing with the common side effects of conventional cancer treatments, particularly vomiting and nausea.
As the study suggests, these oils as well as other EOs can provide aid in a wide range of conditions experienced by cancer patients. They can also help reduce the medical expenses of people with this life-threatening disease.
- Cancer side effects can be reduced using alternative methods. EOs are utilized in aromatherapy to minimize the suffering of brain cancer patients.21 Essential oils are effective against depression and anxiety.22 Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are prone to a wide range of side-effects.23
- Menthaspicata (spearmint) and M. Piperita (peppermint) are quite helpful in overcoming these side-effects. They also help reduce the cost of treatment.24
- EOs of Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka myrtle) and Kunzea ericoides (Karo Greenfingers) can stop mucositis in the head and neck when used as a mouthwash.25
- Cancer patients with metastatic tumorigenic ulcers of the skin sometimes develop necrosis and malodor.26 A mixture of eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemongrass, lemon, clove leaf, and thyme EOs with a 40% ethanol base can help improve malodor.27
- Lavender EO is frequently used in aromatherapy and can be helpful in easing the distress of cancer patients.28 Therefore, essential oils are quite effective at reducing the side-effects and difficulties of cancer patients.
The journal Molecules published a study in 2010 showing that thyme essential oil is the most effective against prostate, lung carcinoma, and breast cancers.29 A major herb that promotes estrogen binding, thyme oil aids in balancing and regulating hormones.30
Similar to clary sage, thyme is not the only potential estrogenic EO known for its latent anti-cancer properties. Interestingly, people with cancer are often told to avoid estrogen because cancer holds receptors for estrogen.
With the powerful anti-cancer qualities of essential oils we have encountered in the studies mentioned above, it is possible that we’ll soon find out that the plants and foods we avoid because of their “cancer-causing” properties may actually possess the secret to unlocking our body’s natural capability to fight cancer.
Interested to find out more? Click on the link below to learn how to effectively use essential oils
|↑1||The effect of sclareol on growth and cell cycle progression of human leukemic cell lines. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Wang, Lin, Hong‑Sheng He, Hua‑Long Yu, Yun Zeng, Heng Han, Ning He, Zhi‑Gang Liu, Zhi‑Yong Wang, Shou‑Jia Xu, and Min Xiong. “Sclareol, a plant diterpene, exhibits potent antiproliferative effects via the induction of apoptosis and mitochondrial membrane potential loss in osteosarcoma cancer cells.” Molecular medicine reports 11, no. 6 (2015): 4273-4278..|
|↑3||Frankincense as a Potentially Novel Therapeutic Agent in Ovarian Cancer. ResearchGate.|
|↑4||Frank, Mark Barton, Qing Yang, Jeanette Osban, Joseph T. Azzarello, Marcia R. Saban, Ricardo Saban, Richard A. Ashley, Jan C. Welter, Kar-Ming Fung, and Hsueh-Kung Lin. “Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 9, no. 1 (2009): 6..|
|↑5||Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑6||Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) prevents human colonic adenocarcinoma growth through modulation of multiple signaling pathways. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑7||Fung, K. M., M. M. Suhail, B. McClendon, C. L. Woolley, D. G. Young, and H. K. Lin. “Management of basal cell carcinoma of the skin using frankincense (Boswellia sacra) essential oil: a case report.” OA Alternative Medicine 1, no. 2 (2013): 1-5..|
|↑8||Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA) inhibits human gastric carcinoma growth through modulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑9||Boswellic acid suppresses growth and metastasis of human pancreatic tumors in an orthotopic nude mouse model through modulation of multiple targets. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑10||Boswellia serrata acts on cerebral edema in patients irradiated for brain tumors: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot trial. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑11||Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑12||Chemistry and immunomodulatory activity of frankincense oil. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑13||Neuroprotective activity of lavender oil on transient focal cerebral ischemia in mice. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑14||Hancianu, Monica, Oana Cioanca, Marius Mihasan, and Lucian Hritcu. “Neuroprotective effects of inhaled lavender oil on scopolamine-induced dementia via anti-oxidative activities in rats.” Phytomedicine 20, no. 5 (2013): 446-452..|
|↑15||Lemongrass essential oil cancer. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑16||Anticancer activity of an essential oil from Cymbopogon flexuosus. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑17, ↑18, ↑19||Composition and potential anticancer activities of essential oils obtained from myrrh and frankincense. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑20||De Rapper, S., S. F. Van Vuuren, G. P. P. Kamatou, A. M. Viljoen, and E. Dagne. “The additive and synergistic antimicrobial effects of select frankincense and myrrh oils–a combination from the pharaonic pharmacopoeia.” Letters in applied microbiology 54, no. 4 (2012): 352-358..|
|↑21||Hadfield, Nancy. “The role of aromatherapy massage in reducing anxiety in patients with malignant brain tumours.” International journal of palliative nursing 7, no. 6 (2001): 279-285..|
|↑22||Kite, S. M., E. J. Maher, K. Anderson, T. Young, J. Young, J. Wood, N. Howells, and J. Bradburn. “Development of an aromatherapy service at a cancer centre.” Palliative Medicine 12, no. 3 (1998): 171-180..|
|↑23||Koeller, Jim M., Matti S. Aapro, Richard J. Gralla, Steven M. Grunberg, Paul J. Hesketh, Mark G. Kris, and Rebecca A. Clark-Snow. “Antiemetic guidelines: creating a more practical treatment approach.” Supportive Care in Cancer 10, no. 7 (2002): 519-522..|
|↑24||Tayarani-Najaran, Z., E. Talasaz-Firoozi, R. Nasiri, N. Jalali, and M. K. Hassanzadeh. “Antiemetic activity of volatile oil from Mentha spicata and Mentha piperita in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.” ecancermedicalscience 7 (2013): 290..|
|↑25||Maddocks-Jennings, Wendy, Jenny M. Wilkinson, Heather M. Cavanagh, and David Shillington. “Evaluating the effects of the essential oils Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) and Kunzea ericoides (kanuka) on radiotherapy induced mucositis: a randomized, placebo controlled feasibility study.” European Journal of Oncology Nursing 13, no. 2 (2009): 87-93..|
|↑26||Haisfield-Wolfe, M. E., and C. Rund. “Malignant cutaneous wounds: a management protocol.” Ostomy/wound management 43, no. 1 (1996): 56-60..|
|↑27||Warnke, Patrick H., Eugene Sherry, Paul AJ Russo, Yahya Acil, Jorg Wiltfang, Sureshan Sivananthan, M. Sprengel et al. “Antibacterial essential oils in malodorous cancer patients: clinical observations in 30 patients.” Phytomedicine 13, no. 7 (2006): 463-467..|
|↑28||Soden, Katie, Karen Vincent, Stephen Craske, Caroline Lucas, and Sue Ashley. “A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting.” Palliative medicine 18, no. 2 (2004): 87-92..|
|↑29||Activities of ten essential oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 cancer cells. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑30||Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. National Institutes of Health.|