The importance and uses of essential oil is quite diverse. Below given is the list of distinct and different uses for essential oils.
Free radicals and many other reactive oxygen species cause the oxidation of biomolecules including proteins, amino acids, DNA etc. and ultimately produce molecular alterations related to aging, arterioselerosis and cancer. In human body an imbalance between free radical production and their removal by antioxidant system leads to‘oxidative stress. So the external supply of antioxidants is required to attain the balance between free radicals and antioxidants. The essential oils of basil, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, oregano and thyme as natural sources of phenolic components have proven radical-scavenging and antioxidant properties in the DPPH (2,2-Diphenyl-1- pycrylhydrazyl) radical assay at room temperature. The antioxidant activity is due to high content of phenolic thymol and carvacrol in Thymus serpyllus and Thymus spathulifolius. The antioxidant activity of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) essential oil is comparable to α- tocopherol and BHT(butylated hydroxyl toluene) and is again due to thymol and carvacrol. Agnus castus seeds essential oil is also foundto be an excellent scavenger for DPPH radical. The antioxidant activity cannot be only due to the presence of phenolic group whereas ketones, aldehydes, hydrocarbons and ether also show free radical scavenging activity of some essential oils like Thymus caespititius, Thymus camphoratus and Thymus mastichina show an antioxidant activity with high contents of linalool and 1,8- Cineole, while thymol and carvacol are almost absent. Tea tree oil act as natural anti- oxidant against BHT mainly due to α- terpinene, γ- terpinene and α-terpinolene contents. So to reduce oxidative stress essential oils should be formulated as a part of daily supplements or additives.
As anti-diabetic agent
Diabetes is a hormonal disease in which either the production of insulin is inhibit or body does not use it properly. Many researches where conducted to explore the anti-diabetic activity of essential oils, like rosemary essential oil showed hyperglycaemic and insulin release inhibitory effect in diabetic rabbits. Studies show that lipophilic fraction of aromatic plants are not only responsible for this activity but also indicated that oral administration of a combination of essential oils like cumin, cinnamon, oregano, fennel, myrtle etc. was able to enhance insulin sensitivity in type II diabetes. Essential oil of Satureja khuzestanica cause large decrease in fasting blood glucose level in diabetic rats. Eugenol and other important essential oils extracted from Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum L.) reduce raised blood sugar ,triglyceride and cholesterol levels and activities of LDH, GPT and GOT and alkaline phosphatase in blood serum thereby acting as a good anti- diabetic.
In chemoprevention and cancer suppression
It is generally said that components that induce phase I or II drug metabolizing enzymes can protect against chemical damage during the initiation phase. A number of dietary monoterpenes exhibit not only anti-tumor activity but also prevent progression of cancer. D-limonene in orange peel oil inhibits the development of chemically induced rodent mammary skin, liver, lung and fore stomach cancers. Caraway seed oil with carvone helps in preventing chemically induced lung and fore stomach tumour development. Also carveol and menthol have chemo preventive activity against DMBA induced cancer. Perillyl alcohol (POH) has initial stage chemo preventive activity against chemically induced liver cancer cells in rats. Citral is also an important constituent found in many essential oils like in lemon grass oil, is an inducer of glutathione-S-transferase class π (GSTP). Hence it is very essential chemo preventive agent towards inflammatory carcinoma such as skin cancer and colon cancer. Garlic essential oil containing organosulphur components (OSCs) are the group of chemo preventive agents. The essential oil of Tetraclinis articulate showed the hallmark of apoptosis when tested on a number of human cancer cell lives like melanoma, breast and ovarian cancer in addition to blood lymphocytes.
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