Interest in botanical ingredients is rapidly growing. Essential oils are a key part of this growth and are one of the most important natural products derived from plants. Rising prevalence of both mental and physical health issues is contributing to this increased demand. Essential oils have been used traditionally for millennia and scientific research is now uncovering the potential mechanisms of action of biological active ingredients in these preparations. Many thousands of such compounds, mainly terpenes, including monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, and also phenolic compounds, alcohols, aldehydes, esters and ketones have been identified in essential oils. Thanks to their chemical composition, essential oils possess numerous biological activities (e.g., antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral). Anecdotally, and in the practice of aromatherapists, they have been shown to enhance mental and physical well-being and provide refreshment from exhaustion. Increasingly they are used in aromatherapy practice in various disorders such as cardiovascular disorders, sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. This review evaluates laboratory and clinical evidence on a range of essential oils and their botanical ingredients.
Keywords: Botanicals; Bioactives; Essential oils; Mechanisms; Respiratory; Sleep; Sedative