Essential Oils Support the Cardiovascular System

In years past, traditional aromatherapy taught that oils were not to be taken internally. Consequently, the vast majority of essential oil knowledge pertained to the effects of essential oils through topical and aromatic use. In recent years, internal use of essential oils has become more popular. A growing body of research suggests that the ingestion of most aromatic compounds is quite safe and can have incredible health benefits on many body systems, such as the digestive, immune, and cardiovascular systems.

This year, a review article1 was published on the various effects of different essential oil constituents on the cardiovascular system specifically. The review covers primary research from January 2011 to December 2015 and presents findings from 83 experimental research studies.

The cardiovascular system includes the heart, veins, arteries, and blood. Its primary function is to deliver oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream to the tissues. Because of its essential role in human life, dysfunction of the cardiovascular system can be quite serious. Cardiovascular health is actually one of the most important keys to a long, healthy life.1

Cardiovascular health can be compromised by various internal stressors. In the review article, the authors presented data from various experimental models that simulated these (and other) cardiovascular issues. The consensus from the research is that many essential oil constituents show promising activity on the cardiovascular system. The 83 studies included in the review article suggest that internal use of these constituents can be effective for supporting healthy cardiovascular function via multiple mechanisms.*

Before we discuss those mechanisms, here is a list of the constituents mentioned in the review, as well as the oils that contain them in significant quantities.

In the experiments described in this review, most of the constituents operated by relaxing the cardiovascular system.* Modulation of ion channel function was the most common mechanism. For instance, all of the compounds except 4, 7, 11, and 16 were shown to affect calcium dynamics in some fashion.1 Potassium channel function was affected by compounds 4,7, and 12.1 Another mechanism of relaxation involved the vascular endothelium, which is the cell layer lining the blood vessels. The relaxing effects of compounds 1-4, 6, and 13 could be attributed, at least partially, to relaxing effects mediated by the endothelial cell layer.1 Some compounds, such as 11 and 16, are also known to have relaxing effects but the exact mechanism remains elusive.


In other experiments, some constituents, for example, 1, 7, and 3, even had protective effects on cardiovascular tissue when administered prior to negative events.1

These experimental results suggest that internal use of essential oils can support cardiovascular health.* While clinical trials are necessary to confirm these results in humans, many essential oils have a long history of safe and beneficial use. As clinical research validates these findings, you can expect to see these essential oils and their constituents being used more and more in cardiovascular health care.


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