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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 323-328

Suppression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced neutrophil adherence responses by essential oils

1Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology, 359 Otsuka, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0395, Japan
2Department of Bioengineering, Faculty of Technology, Teikyo University, 1-1, Toyosato-dai, Utsunomiya, Tochigi, 320-0003, Japan

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: In aromatherapy, essential oils are used as anti-inflammatory remedies, but experimental studies on their action mechanisms are very limited.

Aims: To assess their anti-inflammatory activities, effects of essential oils on neutrophil activation were examined in vitro.

Methods: Neutrophil activation was measured by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)-induced adherence reaction of human peripheral neutrophils.

Results: All essential oils tested at 0.1% concentration suppressed TNF-α-induced neutrophil adherence, and, in particular, lemongrass, geranium and spearmint oils clearly lowered the reaction even at 0.0125%. Similar inhibitory activities for the neutrophil adherence were obtained by their major constituent terpenoids: citral, geraniol, citronellol and carvone. In contrast, very popular essential oils, tea tree oil and lavender oil, did not display the inhibitory activity at the concentration.

Conclusion: Thus, some essential oils used as anti-inflammatory remedies suppress neutrophil activation by TNF-α at a low concentration (0.0125-0.025%) in vitro.