Exploring Spearmint Oil Nanoemulsions for Cancer Treatment and Stability

Jim Crocker
29th May, 2024

Exploring Spearmint Oil Nanoemulsions for Cancer Treatment and Stability

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers from Burapha University developed nanoemulsions of spearmint oil (SMO) to improve its bioavailability and stability for cancer treatment
  • The nanoemulsions, made with different ratios of SMO to triglycerides and a surfactant, retained strong anticancer effects regardless of the carrier oil used
  • A ratio of 80SMO:20triglycerides produced the smallest, most stable droplets, crucial for practical applications and long-term effectiveness
Spearmint oil (SMO) is known for its various pharmacological properties, particularly its anticancer effects. However, its poor water solubility significantly limits its bioavailability, making it less effective as a medicinal agent. Researchers from Burapha University aimed to address this issue by investigating the formation of SMO nanoemulsions using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations[1]. Their goal was to improve the bioavailability and stability of SMO, thereby enhancing its potential as a cancer treatment. Nanoemulsions are tiny droplets of one liquid dispersed in another, stabilized by surfactants, which can improve the solubility and bioavailability of hydrophobic substances like essential oils. Previous studies have shown that essential oils from various plants have significant anticancer properties. For instance, guava leaf oil demonstrated high anti-proliferative activity against human mouth epidermal carcinoma cells[2]. Similarly, white thyme essential oil has been explored for its antimicrobial properties and stability in emulsions[3]. In the current study, the researchers prepared nanoemulsions with different ratios of SMO to triglycerides (trilaurin, tripalmitin, and triolein) and Cremophor RH40 (PCO40) as a surfactant. They analyzed these nanoemulsions for anticancer activity, droplet size, morphology, and stability. Despite changing the type of carrier oil, the SMO nanoemulsions retained strong anticancer effects, indicating the robustness of SMO's pharmacological properties when formulated in nanoemulsions. The study found that a ratio of 80SMO:20triglycerides produced the smallest droplets, measuring less than 100 nanometers, and exhibited excellent stability even after undergoing temperature cycling tests. This stability is crucial for practical applications, as it ensures the nanoemulsion remains effective over time and under varying storage conditions. MD simulations played a pivotal role in understanding the formation mechanism of these nanoemulsions. The simulations revealed that the polyoxyethylenes of PCO40 are located at the water interface, stabilizing the emulsion structure in an egg-like layer. This stabilization is essential for maintaining the small droplet size and preventing the droplets from merging, which would otherwise lead to instability. The correlation between droplet size and triglyceride concentration observed in the simulations was consistent with experimental findings. Specifically, decreasing the triglyceride content, except for the 90SMO:10triglyceride ratio, resulted in smaller droplet sizes. This insight is valuable for optimizing the formulation to achieve the desired droplet size and stability. Hydrogen bond analysis further identified interactions between triglyceride-PCO40 and carvone-PCO40, which are crucial for the stability of the nanoemulsions. Geometry analysis showed that PCO40 adopts an "L-like" shape, maximizing the hydrophilic interfaces and contributing to the overall stability of the nanoemulsion. These findings underscore the importance of MD simulations in the formulation of nanoemulsions. They provide a detailed understanding of the molecular interactions and structural arrangements that contribute to the stability and effectiveness of the nanoemulsions. This approach can be particularly beneficial in the development of essential oil nanoemulsions, allowing researchers to select the most promising compositions before conducting experimental studies. The study also aligns with previous research on the stability of emulsions containing essential oils. For example, the addition of poorly water-soluble oils like corn oil has been shown to improve the stability of emulsions by reducing Ostwald ripening, a process where larger droplets grow at the expense of smaller ones[4][5]. This principle was similarly applied in the current study, where the incorporation of triglycerides helped stabilize the SMO nanoemulsions. In summary, the research conducted by Burapha University demonstrates the potential of SMO nanoemulsions as a stable and effective anticancer treatment. By leveraging MD simulations, the study provides valuable insights into the formation and stabilization mechanisms of these nanoemulsions, paving the way for their practical application in medicine.



Main Study

1) Unveiling the Molecular Dynamics, Anticancer Activity, and Stability of Spearmint Oil Nanoemulsions with Triglycerides.

Published 28th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Anti-proliferative activity of essential oil extracted from Thai medicinal plants on KB and P388 cell lines.

Journal: Cancer letters, Issue: Vol 235, Issue 1, Apr 2006

3) Strategies for reducing Ostwald ripening phenomenon in nanoemulsions based on thyme essential oil.


4) Emulsion-based delivery systems for tributyrin, a potential colon cancer preventative agent.


5) Inhibition of Ostwald ripening in model beverage emulsions by addition of poorly water soluble triglyceride oils.


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