Juniper berries are collected from the evergreen shrub Juniperus communis, a common plant found across all of the Northern Hemisphere. Steam distillation of these berries yields an essential oil composed mainly of alpha-Pinene, with other compounds such as myrcene, sabinene, limonene, and beta-Pinene in lower concentrations.1 In an original research study performed by doTERRA scientists, the effect of Juniper Berry essential oil on the BioMAP® dermal fibroblast system was characterized by measuring protein levels and quantifying gene expression.2
The BioMAP system is a molecular biology method that doTERRA scientists used to examine how healthy cellular activity was supported by Juniper Berry essential oil in human skin cells.3,4 By adding certain factors to cultured skin cells, the researchers induced a cellular response in vitro that was designed to imitate a cellular inflammation response in vivo.3,4 Some of the pre-inflamed skin cells were exposed to Juniper Berry essential oil while others were left alone.
Cells from both groups were burst open and the lysate (cellular contents) was analyzed using two methods. One method was an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a test that measures the levels of a specific protein. Using antibodies linked to enzymes, an ELISA assay produces a color change in the solution being tested. The intensity of the color change indicates the concentration of the specific protein. The proteins of interest in this study were biomarkers known to be upregulated (produced in excess) in a cell during inflammatory conditions. Han and his associates discovered that the cells exposed to Juniper Berry oil had significantly lower levels of 7 of the 17 biomarkers compared to cells not exposed to the essential oil.1
RNA microarray analysis is a powerful tool that allows for a genome-wide evaluation of gene expression. RNA acts as a messenger molecule that mediates the production of proteins from DNA. A cell producing high levels of collagen, for instance, will likely have high levels of RNA coding for collagen. Like DNA, a strand of RNA is made of bases that can pair with other bases in a complementary RNA strand. Complementary RNA strands will come together and stick to each other.
In this experiment, complementary sequences of 21,224 genes were fixed to a microarray plate. After isolating the total RNA from the cell lysate solution, dropping the RNA solution onto a microarray plate resulted in the annealing (coming together) of complementary strands. This made it possible to detect the sequences present in the sample. Genes identified from the RNA microarray results indicated that signaling pathways related to metabolism, inflammation, wound healing, cell biology, and immune response were robustly affected.2
These experimental results suggest that Juniper Berry essential oil supports healthy skin and a healthy immune response, promotes normal cellular health and metabolism, and supports a healthy inflammatory response. *
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