Pharmacological activity of essential oils and their components in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases
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Samodzielna Pracownia Biologii Molekularnej, Instytut Medycyny Wsi w Lublinie
Katedra i Zakład Biochemii i Biologii Molekularnej, Uniwersytet Medyczny w Lublinie
Katedra Zdrowia Publicznego, Wyższa Szkoła Informatyki i Zarządzania w Rzeszowie
Med Og Nauk Zdr. 2011;17(4):202-205
Essential oils are natural, multi-component mixtures, commonly found in the world of plants. The use of raw plant materials, rich in essential oils for culinary and therapeutic purposes, is almost as old as humanity. It is also well-known that the use of herbs and the aromatic parts of plants improves the fl avor and fragrance of many dishes, and simultaneously exerts an extremely benefi cial eff ect on the gastrointestinal system. The objective of the presented study was the presentation of the current state of knowledge concerning the pharmacological properties of essential oils and their selected components on the gastrointestinal system. The article reviews the in vitro and in vivo studies confi rming that selected essential oils and some of their components show a wide range of activities. Furthermore, the article also shows the potential mechanisms of action of selected essential oils and their individual compounds (terpenes). Some reports from literature indicate a spasmolytic and antidiarrheal activity of essential oils commonly occurring in many plant raw materials. The essential oils of well-known, domestic, and some exotic plants have been reported to show hepatoprotective and gastroprotective properties – they inhibit injuries of the gastric mucosa, induced by such factors as ethanol, stress, and medications abuse. The scientifi c fi ndings seem to be very promising. Nevertheless, future studies are necessary in order to confi rm their potential application in the treatment and/or prevention of gastrointestinal diseases in humans. Possibly, in the near future, natural essential oils will be widely used instead of synthetic medicines.

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