A review of few essential oils and their anticancer property

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Authors: Bibechana Timsina, Megha Shukla and Varalakshmi Nadumane
Date: January-June 2012
From: Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals(Vol. 3, Issue 1)
Publisher: Medknow Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Report
Length: 5,204 words

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Byline: Bibechana. Timsina, Megha. Shukla, Varalakshmi. Nadumane

Plant phenolics are important nutritional antioxidants which could aid in overcoming chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, two leading causes of death in the world. The essential oils from different plant sources are a rich source of water-soluble phenolics which have high antioxidant activities. Essential oils are the volatile fraction of aromatic and medicinal plants after extraction by steam or water distillation. They have been used for their pharmaceutical potential since early times, and even now are still subject to a great deal of attention. This review presents both fundamental and recent studies concerned with the role of essential oils and their major constituents as anticancer agents.


Herbs and herbal products are staging a comeback and herbal 'renaissance' is happening all over the globe. The herbal products today symbolize safety in contrast to the synthetics that are regarded as unsafe to human and environment. [sup][1] Although herbs had been priced for their medicinal, flavoring and aromatic qualities for centuries, the synthetic products of the modern age surpassed their importance, for a while. However, the blind dependence on synthetics is over and people are returning to the naturals with hope of safety and security.

Over three-quarters of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for health care. More than 30% of the entire plant species, at one time or other, were used for medicinal purposes. [sup][1] In India, drugs of herbal origin have been used in traditional systems of medicines such as Unani and Ayurveda since ancient times. The drugs are derived either from the whole plant or from different organs, like leaves, stem, bark, root, flower, seed, etc. Some drugs are prepared from excretory plant product such as gum, resins and latex. Even the Allopathic system of medicine has adopted a number of plant-derived drugs which form an important segment of the modern pharmacopoeia.

Cancer is a hyperproliferative disorder that involves transformation, dysregulation of apoptosis, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis. Extensive research during the last 30 years has revealed much about the biology of cancer. [sup][2] Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. If DNA damage occurs, it is repaired in most of the formation, the most relevant are those activating proto-oncogenes and inactivating tumour suppressor genes. The majority of cancers in humans are induced by carcinogenic factors present in our environment including our food. [sup][3]

Aromatic plants have been used since ancient times for their medicinal properties. These properties can be partially or wholly attributed to their volatile oil fractions (essential oils). [sup][4] The diverse therapeutic potentials of essential oils have attracted the attention of many researchers to investigate their anticancer activity, and it has been found that the mechanism of action of essential oils is dissimilar to that of most classic cytotoxical chemotherapeutic agents.

Volatile oils, also known as essential oils are lipophilic compounds containing volatile aroma compounds. The constituents of the oils are mainly monoterpenes and sesquiterpines which are hydrocarbons...

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Source Citation
Timsina, Bibechana, et al. "A review of few essential oils and their anticancer property." Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals, vol. 3, no. 1, Jan.-June 2012, p. 1. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A293468216