Air pollution has become a major environmental and human hazard.
The soaring air pollutants in the atmosphere can induce several respiratory ailments in humans. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, bronchitis, asthma and lung cancer are triggered by particulate matters in the air.
Particulate Matter (PM) is divided into two categories namely PM2.5 and PM10. Both are hazardous in nature, with PM2.5 being more carcinogenic. Humans inhale these from places polluted by vehicular exhaust, smoke from chimneys and other forms of smoke and dust.
Once the particulate matter enters the lungs, they can damage cells by triggering cytokine production. Cytokines are immune responses to an infection in the body. They can alter the immune system and produce effects on the whole body.
The adverse effects of cytokines have been linked to many conditions such as trauma, sepsis, cancer, schizophrenia and depression. So, controlling the secretion of cytokines is important to prevent negative effects on the body.
Researchers derived essential oils from four different plants namely, cloves, aniseed, fennel and ylang-ylang. Essential oils contain compounds called as phenylpropanoids; known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Among these are trans-anethole (anise and fennel), estragole (basil), eugenol (clove) and isoeugenol (ylang-ylang).
Researchers introduced fine particulate matter into human cell cultures of bronchial epithelial cells (lung) and cancer-derived hepatic cells (liver). The particulate matter triggered inflammation in these cells, leading to an increase in two types of cytokines; interleukin- 6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL- 8).
The selected compounds of essential oils have cytotoxicity and anti-inflammatory properties. So, at optimum dose, these four compounds were introduced in the cell cultures damaged by particulate matter.
They found that these compounds suppressed the levels of the Cytokines IL-6 by 96% and cytokines IL-8 by 87%. Thus, they concluded that essential oils can counteract lung and liver damage caused by particulate matter in the air.