Eucalyptus with a high chemical component of 1,8-cineole has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Aromatherapists often use essential oils to help alleviate pain or reduce inflammation. A Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) information sheet identifies the specific components in an essential oil. An aromatherapist relies on the GC/MS when selecting essential oils.
An article published in Molecular Pain (subsequently in SAGE Journals) in January 2012, found eucalyptus oil with a high 1,8-cineole component to be a particularly effective analgesic because of its ability to activate a specific transient receptor potential (TRP) channel while inhibiting another.
Before looking at the research results, let’s consider what is a TRP channel.
The Encyclopedia Britannica provides an excellent image and describes the TRP channel as a “superfamily of ion channels“ in our cell membranes. They help us receive a variety of sensory information (e.g., heat, cold, light or touch). As TRPs respond to various stimuli, they help regulate the flow of ions through our cells. The changing ions cause a sensation or perception of a change.
Researchers sought to find out how essential oils work on molecular mechanisms because they are not widely known. Their tests showed that 1,8-cineole helped ease pain caused by sensory irritants.