Scientific research and clinical studies reveal encouraging results about using essential oils in treating a variety of conditions, including cancer. This material is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical and/or treatment advice.


Skin: Frankincense  (Boswellia serrata): Clinical testing shows that Frankincense essential oil may be an effective treatment option for skin aging caused by sun exposure    

According to a study of topical application of the resins of Frankincense (Boswellia serrata), significant improvements of the Dover's global score for photo-aging, tactile roughness, and fine lines, as well as, with noninvasive diagnostic techniques, an increase of elasticity, a decrease of sebum excretion, and a change of echographic parameters were observed with topical BAs in comparison with placebo. The treatment was always well tolerated without adverse effects. The present findings seem to indicate that the topical application of frankincense oil may represent a suitable treatment option for selected features of photo aging.    [Dermatol. Ther. 2010 Jan-Feb, 23 Suppl 1:S2B-32. Topical Boswellic acids for treatment of photo-aged skin. Calzavera-Pinton, P., Zane, C., Facchinetti, E., Capazzera, R., Pedretti, A., Dermatology Department, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.]

Sandalwood (Santalum album): Clinical test results indicate that Sandalwood essential oil could be an effective treatment option against skin cancer

The essential oil, emulsion or paste of Sandalwood (Santalum album L) has been used in India as an ayurvedic medicinal agent for the treatment of inflammatory and eruptive skin diseases. In this investigation, the chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil (5% in acetone, w/v) on skin papillomas (7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-(DMBA)-initiated and 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate(TPA)-promoted skin papillomas, and TPA-induced ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in CD1 mice) were studied. Sandalwood oil treatment significantly decreased papilloma incidence by 67%, multiplicity by 96%, and TPA-induced ODC activity by 70%. This oil could be an effective chemopreventive agent against skin cancer.    [Eur J cancer Prev. 1997 Aug 6(4): 399-401. Chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil on skin papillomas in mice. Dwivedi, C. Abu-Ghazaleh, A.]

Breast Cancer: Frankincense (Boswellia sacra): Clinical test results indicate that Frankincense essential oil may be an effective for advanced breast cancer

Researchers discovered that, similar to their previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. The suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Frankincense essential oil suggest that the essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have been proposed therapeutic targets for breast cancer.    [BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine. "Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells." Suhail, M.W., Cao, A., Mondallek, F.G., Shih, P.T., Fang, Y.Y., Woolley, C., Young, G., Lin, H.K., Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA]

Brain Cancer: Frankincense  (Boswellia serrata): Clinical test results show that Frankincense could be a potential new adjuvant treatment for breast cancer patients with metastasized brain tumors

The complication of multiple brain metastases in breast cancer patients is a life threatening condition with limited success following standard therapies. The arachidonate lipoxygenase pathway appears to play a role in brain tumor growth as well as inhibition of apoptosis in in-vitro studies. Frankincense (Boswellia serrata), a lipoxygenase inhibitor was applied for this inhibition. Multiple brain metastases were successfully reversed using this method in a breast cancer patient who had not shown improvement after standard therapy. The results suggest a potential new area of therapy for breast cancer patients with brain metastases that may be useful as an adjuvant to standard therapy.     [Journal of Neuro-Oncology. Volume 82, Number 1, 91-93, DOI: 10.1007s11060-00609248-4. Clinical Patient Studies "A lipoxygenase inhibitor in breast cancer brain metastases. Flavin, D.F.]

Leukemia: Frankincense (Boswellia serrata): Clinical test results reveal that Frankincense kills leukemia cancer cells

A chemical component of Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) kills cancer cells. An attempt was made in this study to investigate the mechanism of cell death by TPD in human leukemia HL-60 cells. It inhibited cell proliferation with IC50 approximately 12 microg/ml and produced apoptosis as measured by various biological end points. Further, initial events involved massive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) formation, which were significantly inhibited by their respective inhibitors.   [Apoptosis, 2007. A triterpenediol from Boswellia serrata induces apoptosis through both the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways in human leukemia HL-60 cells. Bhushan, S., Kumar, A., Androta, S.S., Sethi, V.K., Kaur, I.P., Taneja, S.C., Qazi, G.N., Singh, J. Division of Pharmacology, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Canal Road, Jammu, 180001, India.]

Bladder Cancer:  Frankincense (Boswellia carteri): Clinical tests indicate that Frankincense oil can distinguish cancer cells from normal cells and suppress cancer cells

Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability. Microarray and bioinformatics analysis proposed multiple pathways that can be activated by frankincense oil to induce bladder cancer cell death. Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment.     ["Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity" Mark B Frank, Qing Yang, Jeanette Osban, Joseph T Azzarello, Marcia R Saban, Ricardo Saban, Richard A Ashley, Jan C Welter,  Kar-Ming Fung  and Hsueh-Kung Li, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, 73104, USA]

Pancreatic Cancer: Frankincense (Boswellia seratta): Clinical tests reveal that Frankincense suppresses the growth and metastasis of pancreatic tumors   

A 2011 clinical study by researchers at the Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, revealed that Boswellic Acid (from Boswellia serrata) suppresses growth and metastasis of human pancreatic tumors.    ["Boswellic Acid Suppresses Growth and Metastasis of Human Pancreatic Tumors in an Orthotopic Nude Mouse Model through Modulation of Multiple Targets." Park, B., Prasad, S., Yadav, V., Sung, B., Aggarwal, B.B., 2011, October 31. Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA]

Anti-inflammatory/Analgesic: Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha): Clinical tests show that Myrrh is effective in treating various diseases associated with inflammatory pain

A clinical research study evaluated the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of 85% ethanol extract (EE) of Commiphora myrrha and its different fractions partitioned with petroleum ether extract (EPE), ethyl acetate extract (EEA), n-butanol extract (EBu), and the water extract (ECY). These data demonstrated that the EE and EPE posses analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities and may support the fact the traditional application of this herb in treating various diseases associated with inflammatory pain.    [Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2011 Mar 24;134(2):251-8. Epub 2010 Dec 15. "Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of different extracts of Commiphora myrrha." Su, S., Wang, T., Duan, J.A., Zhou, W., Hua, Y.Q., Yu, L., Qian, D.W. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for TCM Formulae Research, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210046, PR China.]

Immune System & Wound Healing: Myrrh (Commiphora molmol): Clinical tests demonstrate Myrrh facilitates wound healing through raising white blood cell counts post-injury and during the healing period

As white blood cell (WBC)/leukocyte counts have been used as an indicator by clinicians to monitor progress of healing in patients, the purpose of this study was to examine effects of myrrh supplementation on blood WBC numbers before an injury and during healing. Treatment with myrrh also induced an initial increase in WBC levels that persisted through the post-injury healing period.    [Journal of Immunotoxicology. 2010 Mar, 7(1): 68-75. "Effect of myrrh (Commiphora molmol) on leukocyte levels before and during healing from gastric ulcer or skin injury". Haffor, A.S. Department of Radiological Science, King Saud University, Kharj, Saudi Arabia]