Uses and Bioavailability of Essential Oils

Dr. David K. Hill D.C. - Founding Executive, Chief medical Officer / Chairman, Scientific Advisory Committee 


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Most studies suggest that essential oil compounds are easily absorbed and that only a small portion of the essential oil remains unchanged. This means that much of the essential oil is metabolized regardless of the method of application. After being properly metabolized, essential oil compounds are eliminated through the kidneys or other metabolism pathways.

Another interesting aspect of essential oil metabolism is that the compounds in the oil are not metabolized in identical ways. Take thymol for example, (an aromatic compound present in many different essential oils). One study showed that when used internally, thymol was absorbed quickly and detected in the blood in only 20 minutes. This quick absorption suggests that thymol was absorbed through the small intestine, the uppermost absorptive organ of the digestive tract.

What appears to be most relevant in essential oil application methods is the consistency with which essential oil compounds are delivered and are usable to target organs and cells. It is reasonable to suggest that current research has shown both aromatic and topical applications are beneficial and effective. With respect to oral use, the potential of essential oils to have benefits throughout the body depends on dosage, chemical structure, and other variables. This does not, however, suggest that internal use is unsubstantiated. Sufficient studies and other models of personal and clinical reference support this type of usage.

New medical technology is designed to optimize systemic delivery of fat soluble compounds. Fats are poorly soluble because they are not easily absorbed through watery layers such as those found in the intestinal tract. Self-emulsifying technology allows fat soluble molecules to become emulsified, or dispersed into a watery substance. In the intestinal tract, this technology allows fat soluble components to be delivered through the intestinal wall. This is a specialized delivery system that allows for isolated molecules to be delivered throughout the body. doTERRA® uses this technology in its xEO Mega® and DDR Prime® softgels.

I believe that future study will illustrate more methods of use to achieve the full benefit of the qualities of essential oils. While there is much yet to understand, I maintain a perspective of belief and appreciation for what has been a well-founded and historically relevant review of essential oil usage.

References

Kohlert, C., et al., Systemic availability and pharmacokinetics of thymol in humans. J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Jul;42(7):731-7.

Satou, T., et al., Anxiolytic effect and tissue distribution of inhaled Alpinia zerumbet essential oil in mice. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Jan;5(1):143-6.

Kohlert, C., et al., Bioavailability and Pharmacokinetics of Natural Volatile Terpenes in Animals and Humans. Planta Med. 2000 Aug;66(6):495-505.

Djilani, A. and Dicko, A., 2012. The Therapeutic Benefits of Essential Oils. Nutrition, Well-Being and Health, Dr. Jaouad Bouayed (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0125-3, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/25344.

Satou, T., et al., Organ Accumulation in Mice After Inhalation of Single or Mixed Essential Oil Compounds. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb;27(2):306-311.

Chaves, JS., et al., Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of the sesquiterpene alpha-humulene in mice. Planta Med. 2008 Nov;74(14):1678-83.

Lado, C., et al., Study on the transfer of components of Aetheroleum carvi and Aetheroleum foeniculi oils. Fitotherapia. 2005 Mar;76(2):166-72. Wu, S., et al., An in vitro study in MDCK cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Nov 15;10:69.

Aydin, S., et al., The effects of thyme volatiles on the induction of DNA damage by the heterocyclic amine IQ and mitomycin C. Mutat Res. 2005 Mar 7;581(1-2):43-53.

Pal, D., et al., Eugenol restricts DMBA croton induced skin carcinogenesis in mice: down regulation of c-Myc and H-ras, and activation of p53 dependent apoptotic pathway. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 Jul;59(1):31-9.

Lv, YX., et al., Effect of orange peel essential oil on oxidative stress in AOM animals. Int J Biol Macromol. 2012 May 1;50(4):1114-50.

Bidinotto, LT., et al., Protective effects of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates STAPF) essential oil on DNA damage and carcinogenesis in female Balb/C mice. J Appl Toxicol. 2010 Nov 19.

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