Frankincense and Myrrh EO’s Tested Together Against Numerous Cancer Cell Lines. See the Results!

Our New Stock of Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Helichrysum, Melissa & Blue Tansy are On Sale Now 20% Off.

Myrrh Trees

The sap of Myrrh trees is collected, and the essential oil is distilled from this dried resin, leaving these amazing trees unharmed.

Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils have both been positively studied for their anti-cancer activity in laboratory research. In the study reviewed here, Frankincense and Myrrh oils were tested both together (to find any potential synergistic effect) and separately (to gauge their ‘strength’ against one another) on several human cancer cell lines using two different assays.

In the study “Composition and potential anticancer activities of essential oils obtained from myrrh and frankincense”(1), breast, blood cell, cervical, skin and small-lung cancer cell lines received a wide range of concentrations in their medium of Frankincense and Myrrh, either together or individually. These cells were incubated and analysis performed on the oils’ ability to cause their death.

Results of Assay #1: Cell line IC50, μg/ml

Essential oil MCF-7 HepG2 Hela HS-1 A459
Myrrh 19.8 39.2 34.3 22.7 41.4
Frankincense 40.7 57.0 55.5 39.7 60.3
Mixture, 1:1 38.1 51.4 43.9 35.4 51.0

The Results: The table above summarizes the results of the first assay, which shows the concentration of each essential oil – and the 1:1 blend of the two – at which half of the cancer cells were killed.

The breast (MCF-7)  and skin cancer (HS-1) cell lines were found most susceptible to the anti-cancer activity of both Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils, whether the oils were used together or separately. Using the above data, the researchers selected the breast cancer cell line for the apoptosis assay. This evaluated each oil’s potential to cause apoptosis (natural cell death), as opposed to simply cause the death of the cancer cells – as was done with all five cell lines.

Frankincense and Myrrh Essential Oils Tested Together Against 5 Cancer Cell Lines

The graph above summarizes the results of this second assay: It was found that Myrrh essential oil was strongest in its ability to invoke apoptosis, a crucial feature in an anti-cancer agent. (Normally, cancerous cells are considered ‘immortal’, and it is this ‘immortality’ which allows them to grown and spread in the body.)

Thus, in each assay performed, Myrrh essential oil was found to have the stronger anti-cancer activity over both Frankincense alone, and a blend of Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils. This does not, of course, discount the large body of research noting Frankincense’s anti-cancer properties.

A note about the oils used: these were hydro-distilled essential oils. We carry a hydro-distilled Boswellia sacra (Sacred Frankincense), though most of our wildcrafted Frankincense and Myrrh oils are Supercritical CO2 extracts. This organically-certified distillation process happens at cooler temperatures than steam or hydro-distillation, and more importantly, it draws a greater range of heavier molecules into the oil. This is why CO2 extracted Frankincense & Myrrh oils are thicker than their steam and hydro-distilled counterparts. All the molecular constituents found in the steam and hydro-distillates are also found in the CO2 extracts, and then some. These heavier molecules are unique to these plants, and while it has not been ‘proven’ in research, much of the aromatherapy community considers them to have important therapeutic considerations. PLUS, we find these particular CO2 extracts smell nicer – smoother, deeper and richer.

This Research Prompts Us to Take A Different Look on Frankincense, Myrrh & Sandalwood Oils & Cancer…

Interestingly, we’d just published a post regarding the complementary ways in which Frankincense and Sandalwood essential oils destroy cancer cells. This research did not compare their relative strength, but did note that they each killed cancer cells via different, and therefore complementary, mechanisims – each affected a different set of the cancer cell’s DNA, leading to its death. It would be of course very interesting to see a similar study including Myrrh, and examine how these three oils may act together.


This is the full research abstract of the article reviewed here as published in Oncology Letters

1. Title: Composition and potential anticancer activities of essential oils obtained from myrrh and frankincense. Published in: Oncology Letters. 2013 Oct;6(4):1140-1146. Authors: Chen Y1, Zhou C, Ge Z, Liu Y, Liu Y, Feng W, Li S, Chen G, Wei T.

The present study aimed to investigate the composition and potential anticancer activities of essential oils obtained from two species, myrrh and frankincense, by hydrodistillation. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), 76 and 99 components were identified in the myrrh and frankincense essential oils, respectively, with the most abundant components, 2-Cyclohexen-1-one, 4-ethynyl-4-hydroxy-3,5,5-trimethyl- and n-Octylacetate, accounting for 12.01 and 34.66%, respectively. The effects of the two essential oils, independently and as a mixture, on five tumor cell lines, MCF-7, HS-1, HepG2, HeLa and A549, were investigated using the MTT assay. The results indicated that the MCF-7 and HS-1 cell lines showed increased sensitivity to the myrrh and frankincense essential oils compared with the remaining cell lines. In addition, the anticancer effects of myrrh were markedly increased compared with those of frankincense, however, no significant synergistic effects were identified. The flow cytometry results indicated that apoptosis may be a major contributor to the biological efficacy of MCF-7 cells.

the full article available here

You can find a wealth of research at PubMed.Gov. Enter search terms such as ‘frankincense and cancer’, or ‘lavender and sleep’ and you’ll see much of the published research in the medical field over the last ten years.

For over four thousand years, Frankincense and Myrrh have held a place in health and healing. According to aroma-therapists and herbalists, their applications are numerous. Both, too, have been used as spiritual aids by various cultures throughout the ages.

We enjoy them for their vast array of healing benefits, and most often for their lovely, complex aromas in any style of diffuser. To learn more about each oil, see our in-depth Frankincense and Myrrh pages.







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The Vast Research Melissa Essential Oil vs. Herpes Simplex Viruses, & Personal Experiences

Our New Stock of Sandalwood, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Melissa & Blue Tansy are On Sale Now 20% Off.

Organic Melissa officinalis, or 'Lemon Balm', grown the Balkans, from which the essential oil is distilled.

The Herpes simplex viruses afflict between 50% and 80% of the adult population in the United States. Whether oral, herpes, genital herpes, or shingles (Herpes zoster), traditional medical treatments can be expensive, time-consuming, and of limited efficacy. For the afflicted with a preference for natural remedies, essential oils are a thoroughly-researched alternative.

Melissa essential oil has been researched more than any other for its anti-viral action versus the herpes simplex I & II viruses. In every study we’ve reviewed, the essential oil has been shown to halt the spread of the virus, either through direct inactivation or prevention of the virus from passing between cells.

In a study published in Phytomedicine(1), the journal of the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, at non-cytotoxic concentrations (levels that do not harm living cells), Melissa essential oil has reduced viral infectivity by between 97% & 98%.

Melissa and Drug Resistant Herpes Virus Strains: Melissa essential oil has also been found effective in preventing the Herpes Simplex virus cell attachment & infectivity even in Acylovir-resistant virus strains.(2)

We have organic Melissa essential oil from distillers in Germany and the Balkans.

Melissa essential oil is noted in research(3) to work at very low concentrations, perhaps 100 times lower than other compounds of similar molecular makeup. Further, the whole essential oil appears significantly more effective than any single molecule scientists identified as the primary ‘active constituent’.

Anecdotal reports from users of our Melissa are consistently positive for relief of HSV symptoms, particularly when used at the very onset of outbreaks. Some individuals report a near-eradication of the virus, preventing outbreaks from occurring except under the most extremely stressful situations on the immune system — meaning that they have fewer and less severe outbreaks since using the essential oil regularly. Here’s a great personal report from use of Ananda’s Melissa…

To address herpes simplex II outbreak symptoms, some individuals take one drop of the oil internally several times a day when they’re fatigued and/or feel an outbreak coming on. Others use very small amounts ’neat’ on the affected area (this depends significantly on the location of the outbreak – oral/genital – you get the idea), and some dilute it in Tamanu oil to ratio that is best tolerated by their skin (Tamanu appears to have anti-viral activity itself, as well as a profound ability to speed skin healing)  ~ any carrier oil will allow the powerful Melissa to do its work! Melissa essential oil is said to be able to be diluted to 1/100th (one drop Melissa essential oil in 99 drops carrier oil) and retain its efficacy.

Please note: while ingestion of Melissa essential oil is noted as non-toxic in the important guide ‘Essential Oil Safety’ (Tisserand & Young, 1995), in French aromatherapy practice (which uses oral administration as much as diffusion and topical application, and perhaps even more so when addressing a particular ailment), essential oils are only taken internally during the course of treatment – not forever! Please be responsible, be safe, and find a qualified practitioner to work with should you feel you need one.

True Melissa essential oil is naturally costly, as the yield from the plant is low (the plant by weight is less than 0.5% essential oil) ~ there are are many ‘rectified’ and blends made of other oils out there for less.

1. Study: Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses. Phytomedicine. 2008 Sep;15(9):734-40. Authors: Schnitzler, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, Reichling J.

Abstract: Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel drugs of antimicrobial and antiviral agents, since herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral agents. Melissa officinalis essential oil was phytochemically examined by GC-MS analysis, its main constituents were identified as monoterpenaldehydes citral a, citral b and citronellal.

The antiviral effect of lemon balm oil, the essential oil of Melissa officinalis, on herpes simplex virus was examined. The inhibitory activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) was tested in vitro on monkey kidney cells using a plaque reduction assay. The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of balm oil for herpes simplex virus plaque formation was determined at high dilutions of 0.0004% and 0.00008% for HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively.

At noncytotoxic concentrations of the oil, plaque formation was significantly reduced by 98.8% for HSV-1 and 97.2% for HSV-2, higher concentrations of lemon balm oil abolished viral infectivity nearly completely. In order to determine the mode of antiviral action of this essential oil, time-on-addition assays were performed. Both herpesviruses were significantly inhibited by pretreatment with balm oil prior to infection of cells. These results indicate that Melissa oil affected the virus before adsorption, but not after penetration into the host cell, thus lemon balm oil is capable of exerting a direct antiviral effect on herpesviruses.

Considering the lipophilic nature of lemon balm essential oil, which enables it to penetrate the skin, and a high selectivity index, Melissa officinalis oil might be suitable for topical treatment of herpetic infections.

2. Study: Attachment and penetration of acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus are inhibited by Melissa officinalis extract. Phytotherapy Research. 2014 Oct;28(10):1547-52.  Authors: Astani A1, Navid MH, Schnitzler P.

Abstract: Medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel source of drugs for antiherpetic agents, because herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral drugs. An aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis and the phenolic compounds caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and rosmarinic acid were examined for their antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) acyclovir-sensitive and clinical isolates of acyclovir-resistant strains in vitro. When drugs were added during the intracellular replication of HSV-1 infected cells, no antiviral effect was observed by plaque reduction assay.

However, Melissa extract interacted directly with free viral particles of two acyclovir-resistant HSV strains at low IC50 values of 0.13 and 0.23 µg/mL and high selectivity indices of 2692 and 1522, respectively. The Melissa extract and rosmarinic acid inhibited HSV-1 attachment to host cells in a dose-dependent manner for acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant strains. These results indicate that mainly rosmarinic acid contributed to the antiviral activity of Melissa extract. Penetration of herpes viruses into cells was inhibited by Melissa extract at 80% and 96% for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant viruses, respectively. Melissa extract exhibits low toxicity and affects attachment and penetration of acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant HSVs in vitro.

3. Study: Melissa officinalis extract inhibits attachment of herpes simplex virus in vitro. Chemotherapy. 2012;58(1):70-7.  Authors: Astani A1, Reichling J, Schnitzler P.

Abstract: Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel drugs for antiherpetic agents, since the herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral drugs.

METHODS: An aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis as well as phenolic extract compounds, i.e. caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and rosmarinic acid were examined for their antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in vitro.

RESULTS: When drugs were added to HSV-1-infected cells, no antiviral effect was observed as determined by plaque reduction assay and analysis of expression of viral protein ICP0. However, the Melissa extract demonstrated a high virucidal activity against HSV-1, even at very low concentrations of 1.5 μg/ml, whereas similar results for phenolic compounds were only achieved at 100 times higher concentrations. Besides the virucidal activity, the Melissa extract and rosmarinic acid inhibited HSV-1 attachment to host cells in a dose-dependent manner. These results indicate that rosmarinic acid was the main contributor to the antiviral activity of Melissa extract. However, the selectivity index of Melissa extract of 875 against HSV is superior to the selectivity indices of single constituents.

CONCLUSION: Melissa extract exhibits low toxicity, is virucidal and affects HSV-1 attachment to host cells in vitro.

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Sandalwood & Cancer: A Multi-Study Research Review

Our New Stock of Sandalwood, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Melissa & Blue Tansy are On Sale Now 20% Off.


Sandalwood heartwood is distilled into the highly-prized essential oil

Here’s a very interesting research review from the Journal of Anti-Cancer Research of several studies performed using Sandalwood essential oil as an anti-cancer agent. This peer-reviewed This is an excellent follow up of our previous post Frankincense & Sandalwood Essential Oils Kill Cancer Cells in Different, Complementary Ways*

A Breif History of Sandalwood Essential Oil Research: Sandalwood oil is widely used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. It has neuroleptic, relaxing, soothing, bronchial dilating and astringent effects. α-Santalol has been reported to have central nervous system depressant effects, such as sedation. It promotes restful sleep and helps to ease an anxious mind.

Sandalwood distillation

Sandalwood distillery in India

Sandalwood and Better Sleep: In sleep-disturbed rats, inhalation of α-santalol (Ed. note: Indian Sandalwood Santalum album is approximately 90% Santalols, more than any other species) affected the sleep-wake cycle, and caused a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in total non-rapid eye movement sleep time. Results also suggest the action of α-santalol via the circulatory system by absorption into the blood through the respiratory mucosa rather than the olfactory system. (Note that this works via topical application and/or inhalation, not so much from the smelling of the aroma!)

And Finally: Sandalwood & Cancer Research, A Multiple Study Review
Published in the Journal of Anti-Cancer Research, June 2015

Article Abstract: “Effective management of tumorigenesis requires development of better anticancer agents with greater efficacy and fewer side-effects. Natural products are important sources for the development of chemotherapeutic agents and almost 60% of anticancer drugs are of natural origin. α-Santlol, a sesquiterpene isolated from Sandalwood, is known for a variety of therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities.

Cell line and animal studies reported chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil and α-santalol without causing toxic side-effects. Our laboratory identified its anticancer effects in chemically-induced skin carcinogenesis in CD-1 and SENCAR mice, ultraviolet-B-induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice and in vitro models of melanoma, non-melanoma, breast and prostate cancer.

Its ability to induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells is its most reported anticancer mechanism of action. The present review discusses studies that support the anticancer effect and the mode of action of sandalwood oil and α-santalol in carcinogenesis.”

We regret to say the full text is not available for reprint, though one may purchase it here:


*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.



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