Myrtus communis

Myrtus communis 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name

Myrtaceae

Genus Name

Myrtus

Vernacular Name

Myrtle, common myrtle, true myrtle, corsican pepper

Original Habitat

Myrtle is an evergreen shrub that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean area, thriving in this area’s warm climate. The plant grows to an average height of 5 metres with white flowers and glossy leaves. In Turkish folk medicine, the essential oil derived from myrtle leaves was commonly used in type II diabetes by lowering glucose levels.[1]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and twigs [2]

Formulation

The essential oil of M. communis is infrequently used in the foods and beverage industry. In the fragrance industry, it is usually found in combination with fragrances with a top note. In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is typically found in condition-specific or targeted formulations.

Description

The steam-distilled essential oil from M. communis is thin in viscosity in light yellowish to amber in colour.  It has a sweet aroma with a light top note.[2]

Chemical Constituents

(Monoterpenes and Sesquiterpenes)
Alpha-pinene
1,8-cineole
Limonene [3][4]

Medicinal Uses

Decongestant ++
Astringent++++
Gastric and renal stimulant+++
Antibacterial+++

Antimicrobial- The antimicrobial action of Myrtle essential oil has been examined against a nalidixic acid resistant specific strain of Salmonella typhimurium in lettuce. This may be useful in disinfecting organic produce.[5] The essential oil was also effective against specific microbial strains including E. coli and C. albicans [6] and in one particular examination, demonstrated activity against 22 out of 25 different bacterial species.[7]

Antioxidant- In a laboratory setting, Myrtus communis oil demonstrated anti-genotoxic activity on the artificially induce SOS response, while various extracts of the herb demonstrated specific free radical scavenging activity.[8]

Hypoglycemic Activity- Animal studies have demonstrated that the ingestion of myrtle oil can lower blood glucose levels in diabetes-induced animals. When compared to healthy rabbits, myrtle oil showed hypoglycemic activity in those with alloxan-diabetes.[1]

Traditional Use

Type II diabetes+
Respiratory infections+++
Acne and related skin conditions++++
Urinary tract infections++

Insecticidal- In the case of the Culex pipiens molestus Forskal mosquito, M. communis essential oil exhibited the highest level of toxicity. The chemical constituent alpha-pinene from this oil was extremely toxic to this particular mosquito.[9]

Contraindications and Precautions

The toxic dosage in animal studies was 3.7 ml/kg in rats and 2.2 ml/kg in mice; showing hepatic injury.  However, this study stated 1 to 2 ml in humans daily may be too low for liver changes when taken internally.[10] Those with liver disorders should avoid this oil based on the animal studies.

Due to limited scientific evaluation of the safety of this oil and how it might interact with other substances, its use should be avoided in those at risk of liver or kidney disease, those with blood sugar imbalances and those being treated for any medical condition.

Not to be used in combination with prescription drug therapy due to the lack of knowledge of mechanism of action.

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Not to be used with children.

 

[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

References

1.         Sepici A. Hypoglycaemic effects of myrtle oil in normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug 2004;93(2-3):311-318.

2.         Lis Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, UK; 2006:251-252.

3.         Tuberoso CI. Chemical composition of volatiles in Sardinian myrtle (Myrtus communis L.) alcoholic extracts and essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 22 Feb 2006;54(4):1420-1426.

4.         Wannes W. Essential oil composition of two Myrtus communis L. varieties grown in North Tunisia. Ital J Biochem. Jun 2007;56(2):180-186.

5.         Gündüz GT. Efficacy of myrtle oil against Salmonella typhimurium on fresh produce. Int J Food Microbiol. 31 Mar 2009;130(2):147-150.

6.         Yadegarinia D. Biochemical activities of Iranian Mentha piperita L. and Myrtus communis L. essential oils. Phytochemistry. Jun 2006;67(12):1249-1255.

7.         Lis-Balchin M, Deans S, Hart S.A study of the changes in the bioactivity of essential oils used singly and as mixtures in aromatherapy. J Altern Complement Med. Fall 1997;3(3):249-256.

8.         Hayder N. Anti-genotoxic and free-radical scavenging activities of extracts from (Tunisian) Myrtus communis. Mutat Res. 14 Nov 2004;564(1):89-95.

9.         Traboulsi AF. Insecticidal properties of essential plant oils against the mosquito Culex pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Manag Sci. May 2002;58(5):491-495.

10.        Uehleke H. Oral toxicity of an essential oil from myrtle and adaptive liver stimulation. Toxicology. Mar-Apr 1979;12(3):335-342.