Research: Frankincense & Sandalwood Essential Oils Kill Cancer Cells in Different, Complementary Ways

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Frankincense Resin

The sap of Boswellia trees when dried becomes Frankincense

As reported in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) and Sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oils were tested for their ability to cause the death of cancer cells and “immortalized” cells, and to examine the mechanisms by which each oil causes cancer cell death.

The research article states: “This study aims to investigate the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities of frankincense and sandalwood essential oils in cultured human bladder cancer cells. It was found that “each essential oil had a unique molecular action on the bladder cancer cells”.* (Two lines bladder cells were used in these experiments).


Sandalwood heartwood is distilled into the highly-prized essential oil

Frankincense essential oil showed a “greater potency” in causing apoptosis of the cancer cells.* Apoptosis is natural ‘programmed’ cell death, the lack of which is the hallmark of cancer cells in general. Sandalwood essential oil affected both the cancer cells and the immortalized cells equally via a different pathway.* (Immortalized cells are the in-vitro equivalent of cancerous cells, used for research purposes).

How Frankincense & Sandalwood Worked Together to Kill Cancer Cells

It is extremely interesting to see the essential oils caused cell death in complementary ways. While both caused changes in gene expression of these cells, they each affected significantly different groups of of genes. While frankincense and sandalwood essential oils have shown to kill cancer cells in laboratory research alone (Frankincense researchSandalwood research), this study appears to demonstrate the greater potential of these two oils working together.*

Frankincense and sandalwood essential oils-activated gene networks in bladder cancer J82 cells. Gene networks were composited by HV genes that were regulated (A) specifically by frankincense essential oil (red), (B) specifically by sandalwood essential oil (green), or (C) commonly by both frankincense and sandalwood essential oils (gray). Identified genes that belong to definite biological processes were highlighted.

What follows is the article abstract (summary). The complete article is available here.

Title: Differential effects of selective frankincense (Ru Xiang) essential oil versus non-selective sandalwood (Tan Xiang) essential oil on cultured bladder cancer cells: a microarray and bioinformatics study.

Published in: Chinese Medicine. 2014 Jul 2;9:18. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-9-18. eCollection 2014.

Authors: Dozmorov MG1, Yang Q2, Wu W3, Wren J1, Suhail MM4, Woolley CL5, Young DG5, Fung KM6, Lin HK7.

Background: Frankincense (Boswellia carterii, known as Ru Xiang in Chinese) and sandalwood (Santalum album, known as Tan Xiang in Chinese) are cancer preventive and therapeutic agents in Chinese medicine. Their biologically active ingredients are usually extracted from frankincense by hydrodistillation and sandalwood by distillation. This study aims to investigate the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities of frankincense and sandalwood essential oils in cultured human bladder cancer cells.

Methods: The effects of frankincense (1,400-600 dilutions) (v/v) and sandalwood (16,000-7,000 dilutions) (v/v) essential oils on cell viability were studied in established human bladder cancer J82 cells and immortalized normal human bladder urothelial UROtsa cells using a colorimetric XTT cell viability assay. Genes that responded to essential oil treatments in human bladder cancer J82 cells were identified using the Illumina Expression BeadChip platform and analyzed for enriched functions and pathways. The chemical compositions of the essential oils were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Results: Human bladder cancer J82 cells were more sensitive to the pro-apoptotic effects of frankincense essential oil than the immortalized normal bladder UROtsa cells. In contrast, sandalwood essential oil exhibited a similar potency in suppressing the viability of both J82 and UROtsa cells. Although frankincense and sandalwood essential oils activated common pathways such as inflammatory interleukins (IL-6 signaling), each essential oil had a unique molecular action on the bladder cancer cells. Heat shock proteins and histone core proteins were activated by frankincense essential oil, whereas negative regulation of protein kinase activity and G protein-coupled receptors were activated by sandalwood essential oil treatment.

Conclusion: The effects of frankincense and sandalwood essential oils on J82 cells and UROtsa cells involved different mechanisms leading to cancer cell death. While frankincense essential oil elicited selective cancer cell death via NRF-2-mediated oxidative stress, sandalwood essential oil induced non-selective cell death via DNA damage and cell cycle arrest.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Posted in Essential Oil Science | 6 Comments

Our All Organic, Truly Natural Sunscreen & Summer ‘Intensive’ Therapy Formulas are Free w/Your Order!

Formulated and tested by the skin-care pros at Ananda, these can be free with your next order. Please see our Sales & Specials page for the details!

Our very best pre- and post-sun skin care blends can be free with your next order!

With any order over $79, receive our Sun Radiance pre-sun forumla, and with orders over $129, receive both our pre-sun formula and our post-sun ‘Intensive’. Simply enter ‘Sun Radiance’ or ‘Sun Radiance Combination’ in the comments box of the checkout page, and we’ll include your choice with your order!

Yes, we get it. It’s the last month of Summer. Why ‘Sun Radiance’ now?

We haven’t used over-the-counter sunscreen in years, as these two formulas work so very well! We use Sun Radiance before heading out, and Sun Radiance Intensive after you’re back in the door. Yet These blends are so amazing for skin protection & repair, we use them all year long…Both  directly address the ‘cornerstones’ of skin aging: oxidation and inflammation with a complex synergy of amazing ingredients.

As for Sun exposure, we’ve used our Sun Radiance before heading out to the beach, and only in the spot we didn’t apply it (that little triangle below your neck!) got a little red from the sun. Everywhere else? No burn at all. In fact, friends keep saying how incredible our skin looks.

What’s In Sun Radiance and Sun Radiance Intensive?
How do These Ingredients Work Together for Your Skin’s Health?

Roships from which rosehip seed oil is pressed

Rosehip CO2 is a concentrated form of Rosehip Seed oil, thoroughly researched in the 1980's for its ability to reverse appearance of sun damage.

Sun Radiance includes:

  • Organic Sea Buckthorn CO2, Carrot Root CO2 and Rosehip CO2. These Supercritical CO2 extracts are all rich in deep-red phyto-nutrients your skin loves. Each of these oils has its own unique nutrient profile, supporting skin protection and repair.*

    Every one of the’s CO2′s alone has been shown to reduce appearance of fine lines and improve skin texture.* Together, they’re an absolute powerhouse. The value of the CO2-extracted oils in these blends cannot be overstated, as the extraction method draws nutrients from the plants at cool temperatures.

    This distillation method results in a wider-range of the plant’s phyto-nutrients in the oils, making these deeply-colored oils so effective.

  • Organic German Chamomile CO2 is a potent anti-inflammatory extract.* Damage caused by oxidative radicals results in inflammation. Quelling this inflammation is key to an exceptional complexion!
  • Organic Rosemary Antioxidant CO2 is one of the most dynamic anti-oxidants known, capturing each of the 7 classes of oxidative radicals.
  • Wildcrafted Sandalwood essential oil which is positively researched for it’s anti-skin-cancer potential.*
  • These CO2′s and essential oils are based in tropical Tamanu Nut oil (known to stimulate development of new skin cells) and our organic Super Skin Care carrier oils of Evening Primrose (for inflammation), Rosehip Seed, Argan (for hydration), Pomegranate seed and virgin Coconut (Rosehip & Pomegranate also increase skin cell proliferation).*
Helichrysum Flowers

Helichrysum has been long used for its anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties.

Our ‘Intensive’ adds Helichrysum and Lavender essential oils which are thought to enhance skin cell regeneration and lessen inflammation – which is really the BIG thing with sun exposure…inflammation, inflammation, inflammation. Plus, we’ve added Calendula CO2 extract, which has been used, well, FOREVER, for its skin-healing potential. We thing you’re going to love it!

About UV Sun Damage, Skin Aging & Anti-Oxidants

Ready for a little ‘technical’ info? Do you know WHY UV rays aren’t so good for skin cells? Here’s what happens: A UV light photon ‘knocks’ an electron from its orbit within your skin…this creates an ‘oxidative radical’, which then wants to rob other cells to ‘quench’ this loss of its electron. But we sure don’t want that!!! And oxidative damage doesn’t happen just from the Sun…it happens naturally over time, from foods we eat, and from exposure from other environmental pollutants as well.

Rosemary CO2 is SPECIFICALLY extracted for its unique anti-oxidant action: it is the only known compound to quench EVERY one of the seven classes of oxidative radicals (we’ll skip the chemistry…we’ll just let you know that we actually put this in capsules to take it as as supplement for this purpose…note it is NOT an essential oil, but a CO2 extract meant only to derive the strong anti-oxidant properties from the plant).

The value of the CO2-distilled oils in these blends cannot be overstated. This distillation method results in a wider-range of the plant’s phyto-nutrients in the oils, making these deeply-colored oils so effective.

Calendula Flowers

Pure Calendula extract, an extremely useful therapeutic oil for the skin, is available only through CO2 distillation.

It’s these colored components of the oils which imparts their diverse anti-oxidant and regenerative properties to the skin. These compounds can help stop, or at least slow, the aging process that excessive sun exposure can cause. Sea Buckthorn oil was even studied by the Soviet space agency for use by cosmonauts to protect their skin from UV rays in space! – while Rosehip Seed oil was thoroughly studied in the 1980′s for its ability to actually reverse the signs of sun damage to the skin with continued use.

The CO2 has a MUCH higher concentration of regenerative, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients than Rosehip Seed carrier oil itself.

Sea Buckthorn oil has a long history of use in skin care, and perhaps even more ancient in beauty-blends is Calendula. In addition to Carrot Root, ALL these oils are known for their regenerative properties in skin-healing (as well as their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well).

Another reason CO2-distilled oils work so well in skin-care is that they are very gentle — your skin won’t mind higher concentrations than it may with traditional steam-distilled oils. Using the CO2′s, it is absolutely OK to make skin blends with concentrations of ‘essential oils’ higher than 3%. We actually put these on ‘neat’ sometimes, though our skin get’s a little crazy-colored for a while :)

Sea Buckthorn Essential Oil

Sea buckthorn berries are rich in antioxidants, and have a long-history of use in skin-care.

The powerful antioxidants in these CO2 oils, as we’ve noted, stop the damaging oxidation process by donating an electron to the oxidative radical.  There are several “classes” of oxidative radicals, and that’s one reason a blend of antioxidant oils can be useful. Depending on where this electron gets ‘bumped’ from, a different ‘class’ of oxidative radical is produced.

Rosemary essential oil

CO2-distilled Rosemary oil has little aroma, but amazing antioxidant properties!

Inflammation is the other aspect of sun-damage we’d like to prevent. German chamomile CO2, and carrier oils such as Virgin Coconut are also known for their anti-inflammatory activity (as are, actually, all the oils included in these blends, yet the Chamomile may be the strongest).

Apply Sun Radiance before, and the ‘Intensive’ after sun exposure, and perhaps again later in the day for best results. You may find your skin turns a little red while the antioxidants absorb, but it won’t take too long!

As always, all first time orders and any order over $99 ships for free. See our Sales and Specials page for all the details. Thank you!!!

Posted in Ananda Apothecary News | 1 Comment

Rare Oils Sale! Take 20% Off these hard-to-find oils.

Vanuatu SandalwoodMoroccan Blue TansyFrankincense Carteri Corsican HelichrysumFrench Lavender CO2

Vanuatu SandalwoodBlue TansyFrankincense CarteriCorsican HelichrysumLavender CO2

Click on any of the oil names to see sizes and prices: Vanuatu Sandalwood, Blue Tansy, Frankincense Carterii, Corsican Helichrysum & Lavender CO2.

Enter coupon code ‘oils20′ and get 20% off every size of these 100% pure essential oils and CO2′s. Check our sales and specials page on how to receive free shipping and the CBD blend of your choice for free with your order.

We know these oils have been hard to find, and each for different reasons. We’ve dedicated ourselves to delivering you the very best of these pure essential oils and CO2′s from around the world.  Here’s a brief on each of these these lovely oils…

  • Vanuatu Sandalwood is very deep and rich. It blends well as a base note with many other oils, and has very pleasant aroma all on its own. Sandalwood is being continually replanted on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, though distillers are being conservative with their farming.

  • Moroccan Blue Tansy has become extremely difficult to find, as large companies have acquired much of the World’s supply (which has really driven up the price). This is our ‘go to’ oil for seasonal allergies (we find a drop massaged under each eye quickly alleviates itchy-ness from grasses and pollen). It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory oil with an incredible aroma as well. We met with certified organic producer in France, part of the co-operative whom distills this oil in Morocco to secure this important oil for you.

  • Frankincense ‘Carteri’ CO2 from Somalia is our all-time favorite Frankincense, with deep woody tones and light citrus notes. CO2 distillation of Frankincense has been heralded by some aromatherapists as the best way to product Frankincense oil, as it brings heavier molecules into the extract not found in steam distilled oils

    Frankincense resin from Boswellia Carteri trees has been in high demand, and last year we saw it become completely unavailable for several months. Frankincense extraction does not harm the trees, and while production continues, demand may drive up prices soon (like happened with Blue Tansy last year).

  • Helichrysum ‘Fine’ from Corsica is also becoming more and more rare as demand increases, particularly by large cosmetic manufacturers in Europe. We visited the distillers on Corsica to get more of this oil (our owner’s favorite oil) ourselves! Helichrysum italicum does so much…read more on our Helichrysum page.
  • French Lavender CO2 is a wonderful, unique and rare oil we absolutely love. The cooler CO2 distillation process gives the oil an aroma akin to fresh lavender flowers. It’s a little less floral and a little more ‘bright’ than the steam distilled variety, though generally has a similar therapeutic profile. This oil is not in danger of disappearing any time soon, it’s that it’s hard to find just yet. A very worth the experience for Lavender lovers!
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