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      Biological effects of essential oils – A review

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      Food and Chemical Toxicology

      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Since the middle ages, essential oils have been widely used for bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal, antiparasitical, insecticidal, medicinal and cosmetic applications, especially nowadays in pharmaceutical, sanitary, cosmetic, agricultural and food industries. Because of the mode of extraction, mostly by distillation from aromatic plants, they contain a variety of volatile molecules such as terpenes and terpenoids, phenol-derived aromatic components and aliphatic components. In vitro physicochemical assays characterise most of them as antioxidants. However, recent work shows that in eukaryotic cells, essential oils can act as prooxidants affecting inner cell membranes and organelles such as mitochondria. Depending on type and concentration, they exhibit cytotoxic effects on living cells but are usually non-genotoxic. In some cases, changes in intracellular redox potential and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by essential oils can be associated with their capacity to exert antigenotoxic effects. These findings suggest that, at least in part, the encountered beneficial effects of essential oils are due to prooxidant effects on the cellular level.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Food and Chemical Toxicology
          Food and Chemical Toxicology
          Elsevier BV
          02786915
          February 2008
          February 2008
          : 46
          : 2
          : 446-475
          Article
          10.1016/j.fct.2007.09.106
          17996351
          © 2008

          https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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