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March 01, 2011

Aromatics in Print

The February-April 2011 issue of Herbalgram (#89) arrived recently, with several items of aromatic interest.  Since this is the current issue some of the articles in the online version require a subscription for web access. I will provide links to the free articles.

  • The Herb Profile in this issue is Sage (Salvia officinalis). This is a complete profile that provides detailed information about the herb, and plant, the history and cultural significance, and modern research. Most of the research presented involves the essential oil, including studies of its effect on memory, cognition and mood, with some studies on the physical effects, including sore throat treatment, anti-inflammatory effects, and Herpes simplex infection.  There is also a discussion of current production and sustainability potential, although the data available are admitted to be minimal.
  • A detailed article describes “The Plant List: The first Comprehensive Inventory of Most Known Plant Species”, available online only by subscription. However, if you are interested in seeing the actual list, you can link to it here at The Plant List. The list is an attempt to standardize the Latin binomial names of all plants. It lists over 1 million plant names of species rank; 298,900 are accepted species names. This list should go a long way towards standardizing the names of aromatic plant species, although it will not resolve the question of INCI names that have been derived through a separate process.
  • An article reports on the recent COP (Conference of the Parties) meeting for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which met last October in Nagoya, Japan. (Registration required) Click this link if you want to see the actual COP/CBD website.
  • A major article reports on “The Safety of Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) and p-Synephrine.” This article is in response to previous reports in Consumer Reports that have suggested that Bitter Orange is unsafe as a dietary supplement. The article deals with this use and does not mention the essential oil at all. The article thoroughly debunks the safety concerns about internal use of “Bitter Orange Extract” and attributes the concerns to erroneous information released by the FDA. Since the concerns were with internal use, it would seem unlikely that the use of bitter orange oil in aromatherapy would be of concern other than its well-known phototoxic effects. Tisserand/Balacs in Essential Oil Safety rate its Oral Toxicity as D, or non-toxic. I attempted to determine if the ingredient of concern (p-Synephrine) is present in the essential oil. The best study I found online (Toxicological Summary for Bitter Orange . . .) suggests  that the essential oil doesn’t contain any of the alkaloids they studied [“Oils from the fruit, peel, and other plant parts are also used for flavoring and fragrance and do not contain alkaloids.” Curiously, that study doesn’t seem to have been cited in the Herbalgram article.
  • A major article “The Genus Ligusticum in North America” is available on the web only by registration. Since Samara Botane has in the past sold “Medicine Root” essential oil (which is Ligusticum canbyi –an unresolved name per the Plant List) I was particularly interested in this article, which is mainly about “Osha” root, and the confusion of the various Ligusticum species that are confused with it. These plants are members of the “Lovage” family which is found throughout the world. The article contains a list of the phytochemicals found in the various species, and shows their distribution throughout North America.

As usual, Herbalgram, the Journal of the American Botanical Council, provides a plethora of information about herbal issues related to the aromatic industry, and is well worth a subscription.

Posted by Rob on March 1, 2011 in Aromatics in Print, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Safety/Toxicity | Permalink

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