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Alternative Therapies: Essential Oils Show Promise in Cancer Research

The Concerns of Cancer Make Top News

If one were to take survey of the largest concerns in modern America, at the top of the list would be the development of cancer. Headlines from magazines, newspapers and websites denote a rise in cancer among young and old alike. Concerns vary from how to escape this seemingly inevitable disease, and how can one pay for this disease if diagnosed, to what is the most effective method or supplement against developing cancer in the first place.

Another shift in headline news is alternative treatments to often expensive and sometimes invasive forms of health care. More and more individuals are seeking ways to gain freedom from dependence upon pharmaceuticals, intensive scans and often impersonal treatments to both body and soul.

Essential oils are a rather gentle yet a highly effective method of treating ailments and supporting overall good health. These plant extractions are low in cost compared to frequently overarching methods of modern medical treatment and can be used safely by all ages.

This paper specifically addresses the rising interest of essential oils in research, specifically on the effectiveness in preventing and treating cancer. It also addresses how essential oils when used in conjunction with conventional cancer treatment can decrease the side effects of these modern methods.

What really is Cancer?

Cancer in general terms is cells growing out of control. The mechanism (found in the mitochondria of the cell) to stop abnormal growth of the cell is interrupted or turned off. Once this process begins, these abnormal cells either invade or replace normal tissue. Such a process can occur within any parts of the body.

There are two main groupings of cancer cells: solid and non-solid. Cancers that form in solid tissues like the liver, bone or brain are solid, whereas cancers that do not form solid structures and proliferate in the blood and lymph systems, such as leukemia and lymphomas are of course non-solid in nature.

Causes of cancer formation within the body are variable. Most cancers are now attributed an unhealthy lifestyle, dietary choices ? a diet rich in processed foods, genetics and hazardous chemical exposure either though air, water or direct contact.

According to a 2005 paper produced by the American Cancer Society (Cancer Facts and Figures, 2005), over one million new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed in the United States alone. According to this publication, cancer is the second leading cause of death, taking the lives of 1 in 4 Americans.

Essential Oil Research

Conventional or orthodox medical treatments of cancer currently in use are chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Yet in the last few years, there is a rising interest among American laboratory researchers on the effectiveness of essential oils in preventing as well as treating cancer or combining essential oils with conventional treatments.

European medical practitioners have used essential oils as part of their treatment regime for years, even centuries. Yet, it has only been in the last few years that essential oils have gain recognition and heightened awareness by American medical researchers for their remarkable medicinal properties.

A Look at the Current Research

Results of the ability of specific essential oils to kill cancer cells (cytotoxic) have been recently published in various science journals. The results have been overall positive and promising.

In 2007, a study published in the September/October Anticancer Research jounal performed at the University of Calabria, Italy, noted that essential oils from the Lauraceae families inhibit human tumor cell growth in vitro (out of living cells, such as in a test tube or Petri dish) environments. In the January 2006 Journal of Ethnopharmacol, University of Quebec, Canada researchers identified compounds in the leaf essential oil of Croton flavens L. that are cytogentic against tumor cells.

Lemongrass, after Frankincense, may next most commonly researched essential oil for anti-cancer activity. In the May 2009 journal of Chemico-Biological Interactions, researchers tested Lemongrass essential oil against 12 human cancer cell lines. Colon cancer and neuron cancer cell lines were found most susceptible to the essential oil. In a Canadian study, researchers even found conventional aromatherapy treatment to increase the cytoxicity of a commonly-used cytotoxic drug was significantly increased.

It is evident that each above study looked at different essential oils and their cytotoxic compounds, yet each study had similar conclusions - compounds found within essential oils have anticancer properties. It is also evident that essential oils can also increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments. Such findings are positive in nature and may drive medicine into another aspect of treating this disease.

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