Penny Price Aromatherapy Research
Essential oils have been used for medicinal purposes for years, however much of the reported benefits of essential oils are based on these traditional uses and from observations. How do we know that the essential oil is having the effect? How do we know improvement is not spontaneous or the placebo effect? To make claims about the benefits of aromatherapy, we need scientific evidence to say that the oil itself has a significant, measurable pharmacological effect, just like any therapeutic or medicinal product.
Here at PPA we understand the importance of scientific evidence in aromatherapy. As such, we have collaborated with De Montfort University, Leicester to research and develop a new natural cosmetic for the control of acne with a full set of data to support its efficacy. Read on to learn all about our research project and the exciting results we have achieved!
On this page you can also access our research library. This contains all of our previous scientific research-based newsletters and our product stories – explanations of previous essential oil research demonstrating why we use them in our products.
The Project – Developing an Antimicrobial Blend of Essential Oils for Acne
What causes acne and why study it?
Acne vulgaris (a.k.a hormonal acne) affects almost all teenagers, with around 15% suffering from moderate to severe forms. It can cause serious emotional discomfort alongside the obvious physical discomfort, and many treatments take months to produce an effect and can cause side effects.
Acne starts due to hormonal changes during puberty, specifically an increase in androgens. This increases the amount of sebum (the skin’s natural oil) being produced, and causes extra shedding of the skin cells on the inside of hair follicles. This leads to plugging of the hair follicle, causing blackheads and white heads. This plugging also provides the perfect environment for a bacteria that lives in the hair follicles, called Propionibacterium acnes, to grow, as it is anaerobic (respires without oxygen) and uses the sebum as a nutrient source. This growth causes inflammation, leading to inflamed spots called pustules and papules that are characteristic in acne. Another species of bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermidis, which also lives on the skin, is thought to colonise the inflamed hair follicle, making the inflammation and lesions worse.
Acne is often treated with antibiotics, which prevent P. acnes from growing, thus reducing inflammation and spots. However, antibiotic resistance has been seen in both P. acnes and S. epidermidis, which is associated with treatment failure. Vitamin A derivatives called retinoids are also used as they prevent dead skin cells blocking the pores, however this causes side effects such as reddening of the skin. This indicates that alternative treatments are needed for acne, and essential oils could be useful for this as they have a range of properties that might be useful for acne, including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities, and essential oils are thought to have minimal side effects. Its antimicrobial activities are of interest because no known resistance to them has been seen in micro-organisms, and some have been found to work synergistically which could further reduce the chance of bacteria becoming resistant.
Take a look at our Acne research infographic…