Lemon Myrtle, Lemongrass, and Melissa Oils May Help Fight Breast Cancer

Jenn Hoskins
4th June, 2024

Lemon Myrtle, Lemongrass, and Melissa Oils May Help Fight Breast Cancer

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study from Toho University Ohashi Medical Center found that essential oils from Lemongrass, Lemon myrtle, Litsea, and Melissa can inhibit breast cancer cell growth
  • These essential oils were effective even when diluted more than 500-fold, showing strong antitumor effects
  • Lemon Myrtle's essential oil was the most potent and least toxic to normal cells, primarily due to its high citral content
Cancer therapy, while effective in suppressing recurrence and prolonging life, often comes with significant side effects. Consequently, there is a strong demand for treatments that are both effective and have fewer adverse effects. One promising avenue is the use of plant-derived essential oils in cancer therapy. A recent study conducted by Toho University Ohashi Medical Center investigated the antitumor effects of essential oil volatiles on breast cancer cells and identified four essential oils with notable antitumor activity[1]. In this study, breast cancer cells were cultured in a 96-well plate, and one of twenty essential oils was added dropwise to the central well. After incubating the plate at 37°C for 48 hours, the effect of the volatile components of each essential oil on the surrounding breast cancer cell growth was examined using an MTT assay. Gas chromatography was employed to investigate the concentration of the transpiration components that might affect cancer cells. The results revealed that among the 20 essential oils tested, Lemongrass, Lemon myrtle, Litsea, and Melissa exhibited strong antitumor effects. These essential oils inhibited the growth of nearby breast cancer cells even when diluted more than 500-fold. Notably, the transpiration component of Lemon Myrtle showed the strongest antitumor effect while being the least cytotoxic to mononuclear cells in normal peripheral blood. Each of these essential oils contained a significant amount of citral, a compound previously identified for its strong antimicrobial and anticancer properties[2]. The study further quantified the antitumor effects of citral, showing that the IC50 (the concentration required to inhibit cell growth by 50%) against breast cancer cells was 1.67 µL/mL for geranial and 1.31 µL/mL for neral, both of which are components of citral. Volatilized citral alone demonstrated strong anti-proliferation and infiltration-inhibiting effects on breast cancer cells. These findings are consistent with prior studies that have highlighted the potential of citral in various biological activities. For instance, citral has been shown to have potent antimicrobial properties, significantly inhibiting bacterial communication and adhesion during biofilm formation[2]. Additionally, citral has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting nitric oxide production and suppressing NF-kappa B activation, a protein complex involved in cellular responses to stress[3]. This study builds on the understanding that citral and essential oils containing citral can have significant biological effects, including anticancer properties. The research highlights the potential for essential oil volatiles, particularly those rich in citral, to serve as effective cancer therapies with fewer side effects compared to conventional treatments. This is particularly relevant given the cardiotoxicity associated with some antitumor therapies, which can impact the prognosis of patients with breast cancer[4]. In summary, the study from Toho University Ohashi Medical Center demonstrates that the transpiration components of Lemongrass, Lemon myrtle, Litsea, and Melissa essential oils, primarily due to their high citral content, can inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation. This finding opens the door to further research into plant-derived essential oils as a viable and less harmful alternative in cancer treatment.



Main Study

1) Citral in lemon myrtle, lemongrass, litsea, and melissa essential oils suppress the growth and invasion of breast cancer cells.

Published 3rd June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Lemon Grass Essential Oil Does not Modulate Cancer Cells Multidrug Resistance by Citral-Its Dominant and Strongly Antimicrobial Compound.


3) Inhibitory effect of citral on NO production by suppression of iNOS expression and NF-kappa B activation in RAW264.7 cells.


4) Adverse Cardiovascular Effects of Anti-tumor Therapies in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Single-center Cross-sectional Analysis.


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