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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lemongrass Essential Oil Studied for Anti-Cancer Effects

Lemongrass as an herb has been used for centuries for its positive health effects. In Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for relief of menstrual discomfort and nausea. The fresh grass is used in indigenous medicine systems around the world. Recently, the essential oil has been the subject of scientific studies regarding its effects on cancer cells. One of the features of cancer cells is the upset of natural cell death. Lemongrass appears to be effective as a form of chemotherapy, causing cell death to occur as it should: "Our results indicate that the oil has a promising anticancer activity and causes loss in tumor cell viability by activating the apoptotic process". These studies indicate that Lemongrass essential oil, with its low toxicity, has the potential of being an inexpensive 'alternative' treatment in the future.

Study: Anticancer activity of an essential oil from Cymbopogon flexuosus.

Sharma PR, Mondhe DM, Muthiah S, Pal HC, Shahi AK, Saxena AK, Qazi GN.Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Canal Road, Jammu 180001, India.


The essential oil from a lemon grass (see lemongrass essential oil) variety of Cymbopogon flexuosus was studied for its in vitro cytotoxicity against twelve human cancer cell lines. The in vivo anticancer activity of the oil was also studied using both solid and ascitic Ehrlich and Sarcoma-180 tumor models in mice. In addition, the morphological changes in tumor cells were studied to ascertain the mechanism of cell death. The in vitro cytotoxicity studies showed dose-dependent effects against various human cancer cell lines. The IC(50) values of oil ranged from 4.2 to 79mug/ml depending upon the cell line. In 502713 (colon) and IMR-32 (neuroblastoma) cell lines, the oil showed highest cytotoxicity with IC(50) value of 4.2 and 4.7mug/ml, respectively. Intra-peritoneal administration of the oil significantly inhibited both ascitic and solid forms of Ehrlich and Sarcoma-180 tumors in a dose-dependent manner. The tumor growth inhibition at 200mg/kg (i.p.) of the oil observed with both ascitic and solid tumor forms of Ehrlich Ascites carcinoma was 97.34 and 57.83 respectively. In case of Sarcoma-180, the growth inhibition at similar dose of oil was 94.07 and 36.97% in ascitic and solid forms respectively. Morphological studies of the oil treated HL-60 cells revealed loss of surface projections, chromatin condensation and apoptosis. The mitochondria showed apparent loss of cristae in the cells undergoing apoptosis. The morphological studies of Sarcoma-180 solid tumor cells from animals treated with the oil revealed condensation and fragmentation of nuclei typical of apoptosis. Morphological studies of ascites cells from animals treated with the oil too revealed the changes typical of apoptosis. Our results indicate that the oil has a promising anticancer activity and causes loss in tumor cell viability by activating the apoptotic process as identified by electron microscopy.
Study: An essential oil and its major constituent isointermedeol induce apoptosis by increased expression of mitochondrial cytochrome c and apical death receptors in human leukaemia HL-60 cells.

Kumar A, Malik F, Bhushan S, Sethi VK, Shahi AK, Kaur J, Taneja SC, Qazi GN, Singh J.Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, India.

An essential oil from a lemon grass variety of Cymbopogon flexuosus (CFO) and its major chemical constituent sesquiterpene isointermedeol (ISO) were investigated for their ability to induce apoptosis in human leukaemia HL-60 cells because dysregulation of apoptosis is the hallmark of cancer cells. CFO and ISO inhibited cell proliferation with 48 h IC50 of approximately 30 and 20 microg/ml, respectively. Both induced concentration dependent strong and early apoptosis as measured by various end-points, e.g. annexinV binding, DNA laddering, apoptotic bodies formation and an increase in hypo diploid sub-G0 DNA content during the early 6h period of study. This could be because of early surge in ROS formation with concurrent loss of mitochondrial membrane potential observed. Both CFO and ISO activated apical death receptors TNFR1, DR4 and caspase-8 activity. Simultaneously, both increased the expression of mitochondrial cytochrome c protein with its concomitant release to cytosol leading to caspase-9 activation, suggesting thereby the involvement of both the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways of apoptosis. Further, Bax translocation, and decrease in nuclear NF-kappaB expression predict multi-target effects of the essential oil and ISO while both appeared to follow similar signaling apoptosis pathways. The easy and abundant availability of the oil combined with its suggested mechanism of cytotoxicity make CFO highly useful in the development of anti-cancer therapeutics.








*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.


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