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IU researchers find essential oils improve wound healing



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A spray bottle of lavender essential oil sits Jan. 27 on a couch. IU researchers discovered last year that a chemical compound in essential oils can help improve the healing process in mice. Sarah Zygmuntowski

Researchers at IU discovered last year that a chemical compound in essential oils can help wounds heal in mice when applied topically on mice, according to an IU press release. Next, the effects of the compound will be tested on humans to see if it will have the same effect. 

The compound, called beta-caryophyllene, is found in many essential oils such as lavender.

Visiting scientist Sachiko Koyama worked as an associate scientist at IU’s medical school during the study, according to the release. The study was published Dec. 16 in the PLOS ONE, an open access scientific journal, which is published by the Public Library of Science.

“I used mice as a laboratory animal and experimented and made a small, very small, skin wound and put it on top of this wound, and found that it enhances this wound closure,” Koyama said in the release.

The compound increased cell growth and cell migration that is critical for wound healing, according to the release.

None of the mice showed signs of irritation to the compound, according to the study. This means the study was successful.

Research and testing on live animals is permitted at IU and each case is thoroughly reviewed, according to IU’s research website. A committee reviews each study or teaching activity in order to ensure humane and safe animal care. Everyone involved must enroll in required animal care and use training, as well.

According to the study, the compound affected male and female mice differently. Re-epithelization, which is the resurfacing of a wound with a new top layer of skin, which typically appears pink and shiny, was only found on female mice after exposure to the compound.

The study was funded by IU through the Collaborative Research and Creative Activity Funding Award.

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