A research team from Indiana University has discovered a new chemical that is found in natural essential oils such as rosemary, lavender. This new chemical compound has miraculous power of healing skin wounds in no time. This effect was studied skin ointment with this chemical on mice model. Researchers of this experiment believe that this new discovery could improve human skin injury treatment.
This chemical compound is called beta-carophyllene and is common in many herbs such as lavender, ylang-ylang, rosemary and even in spices i.e. black pepper. Treating skin tissue with beta-carophyllene shows remarkable results in cell growth and regeneration which are critical for healing wounds.
While studying this wound healing, the researchers also observed gene expression in stem cells of the hair follicles that were located on the wound site. However, they didn’t find any obvious function of the olfactory system in this process of healing.
This research is published in the journal “PLOS ONE” and is available online.
Sachiko Koyama who is a corresponding author to this study and worked as an associate researcher at the School of Medicine, Indiana University currently teaches at Department of Biology in the same university. She shares that
“This is the first finding at the chemical-compound level showing improved wound healing in addition to changes in gene expression in the skin,”
She further adds that the change in gene expression represents improved healing for wounds and it is also less likely to form a scar later on. All this suggests a complete recovery from skin wounds and injuries.
This research shows the power of essential oil which is different from their typical effect i.e. aromatherapy. Essential oils are extracted in concentrated form from plants directly. The use of essential oils is not new, in fact, their use is traced back to ancient Egypt. However, their popularity in the US and other parts of the world is only a few years old when aromatherapy became popular.
The original field of Sachiko Koyama’s research is pheromones. That’s why she wasn’t interested in studying essential oils at first, she says. This experiment was planned only after when some students started working on the wound healing process in mice. These wound healing studies were a part of the “Medical Sciences Program” at the “School of Medicine-Bloomington”, “Indiana University”.
Koyama has worked in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University where scientists were already working on cannabinoid receptors. She was intrigued to know that beta-caryophyllene has the power to activate olfactory receptors and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) as well which in response initiates an anti-inflammatory effect after activation.
This inflammatory phase is probably the first stage of a wound healing process and then the cell proliferation stage and remodeling stage follow. So if this inflammation could be suppressed by anything, the wound healing process might speed up, she adds. However, the changed gene expression shows that there are more factors than CB2 receptor activation which makes it more complicated to understand.
This study is promising but it only suggests a little part of this would healing process. Understanding it completely requires more extensive research. Koyama doesn’t recommend using essential oils directly to heal wounds as a home remedy. This research is highly specific to only one chemical beta-carophyllene that is purified and diluted in a particular concentration. It could not be achieved in home remedies so she advises people to refrain from using essential oils on wounds.