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skin cancer 

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Acne, Athlete's foot, Boils, Cancer, Chapped Lips, Dermatitis, Eczema, Impetigo, Jock Itch, Psoriasis, Rashes, Ring worm, Scabies, Scar Reduction, Skin cosmetic problems

Skin cancer most commonly comes from prolonged exposure to the UV rays in sunlight although cancerous spots can develop anywhere on the body.  There are three types; the most common is basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and the most dangerous and least common is melanoma also spoken of as malignant melanoma.  If detected early all are treatable with high success rates. Melanoma has the highest risk factors since it can metastasize early and spread to other areas of the body. UV rays from any source such as sunlight, medical radiation or tanning apparatus  and it affects those with light colored skin more often than others.

Basal cell carcinoma forms at the base of the epidermis or outer layer of the skin. Most begin around hair follicles in sun-exposed areas. Visibly there are a variety of appearance. An open sore that does not heal, a red patch or yellow waxy area that may itch, a shiny bump or a pink craterlike structures.

Squamous cell carcinoma forms at the upper layer of the epidermis in the keratinocytes that are the most common cells of this protective layer of our body. The precursor is actinic keratosis wherein these cells form thick scaly or crusty patches. It may also develop as a blemish on the lip that looks like a cord sore but does not heal or a raised growth on the skin that looks like a wart but may often bleed. Again this happens most commonly in areas exposed to the sun and in those with light skin color. Often doctors will remove actinic keratosis areas since they have a high risk of developing into squamous cell carcinoma.

Malignant melanoma starts with the cells that produce melanin (the substance that gives the color to human skin, etc.) that are in the bottom layer of the epidermis. If this type of cancer develops it can metastasize quickly so it is important to recognize the signs and to seek proper medical attention if it is suspected.  The common signs are a mole that changes in size, color, symmetry or border regularity. The ABCDEs of detection taken from the Melanoma Research Foundation website are:

Signs of MelanomaA - Asymmetrical Shape

Melanoma lesions are typically irregular, or not symmetrical, in shape. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.

B - Border

Typically, non-cancerous moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions usually have iregular borders that are difficult to define.

C - Color

The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.

D - Diameter

Melanoma lesions are often greater than 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).

E - Evolution

The evolution of your moles(s) has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to melanoma. Knowing what is normal for YOU could save your life. If a mole has gone through recent changes in color and or size, get it checked out by a dermatologist immediately.

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  FrankincenseC

Essential oils based products:

Also consider: BergamotC, CloveC, GrapefruitC, Helichrysum, LemonC, LimeC, Melaleuca, Myrrh, SandalwoodC, ThymeC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:

Many reports indicate that skin cancer spots were eliminated by:

·    Apply 2 -3 drops of Frankincense neat (without dilution) topically directly to the area in question 2 or 3 times per day.

·   Supplement this with 2 drops of Frankincense under the tongue daily or 3 drops in a capsule.

·   Helichrysum may be applied topically to prevent scarring as area heals.

Important note: For malignant melanoma (see summary page for signs) seek professional medical attention as it may metastasize quickly. Frankincense may be used concurrently.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Farah -  I would like to share with all of you, something that is very close to my heart. On Halloween day we found out after checking with different top doctors in town, that my Mom has skin cancer on her eyelid close to her eyelashes. You all can imagine what I felt to hear that. I love my Mom so much that I would do anything for her. So after having a meeting with my Dad. We decided to put her on Frankincense oil . She was drinking it three times a day and three drops each time and she would dab a touch of it above her eye on the bone area several times a day. She finished two bottles of Frankincense. I have to tell you that I heard so many great stories since I am involved with (...), that I knew we were going to see a MIRACLE. Today she had her surgery. The doctor told her it will be a whole day thing because they have to take piece by piece to do the biopsy so they can remove all of the cancer. The amazing thing was when they did the first biopsy, the doctor came back and said to everyone that there is NO sign of cancer. What would you call that? I let you be the judge. Please don't take my word for that, do your research and get the control of your health in your hand and help your family and friends. I am more passionate than ever to share these amazing oils with the world.


Elea - I've read the conversation about using Frankincense to apply topically to skin cancer and also that other oils can be used, Grapefruit, hyssop, tarragon, Thyme, and Thyme (linalool).  Now my question is, how should they be used?  I'm researching this for my mother, who will not be willing to mess with taking multiple capsules daily.  I was hoping to create a roller ball with a mixture for her to apply daily.  Should I start with just one of the oils and a carrier oil or should it be non-diluted?  How many times a day should she put it on?  Any other tips you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Rosemary - I was applying Frankincense and Melaleuca on my skin cancer as well as taking 1 drop of Frankincense under my tongue daily.  The 1 drop of Frankincense a day has been suggested by Dr. Hill for everyone.  I applied the oils morning and night neat. Out of 4 spots, I have one left, which has diminished significantly.

Energy4life - My mother is 81 years old. Last spring she had 3 suspicious looking moles removed from her back and sent for biopsy. One of them had cancer cells. The doctor wanted to remove that one at a deeper level, and while waiting for that appointment, my sister had the opportunity to apply Frankincense twice a day for several days (we live far away from her). The second biopsy came back clear of cancer. However she still had a number of suspicious looking moles, several of which are dark and scaly. She began treating them with Frankincense every day. I was able to help over Christmas because she came here for 3 weeks... So I am very familiar with these moles! She called me yesterday very excited to tell me that in the shower, two of the dark moles had come right off in her hand... They just slipped away, and underneath is healthy new skin. Her doctor has been wanting her to get them excised and biopsied, and we are all looking forward to hearing his reaction. Frankincense is amazing!!!!!


Joni - My older brother has been using a DNA repair cream from a company I used to work with.  He used it to help with age spots and as preventative for skin cancer lesions.  He asked me if there was something else he could be using now since he knows I am no longer with that company.  I know Frankincense for skin cancer, but what oils would be good for age spots.

Monica - I've had splotchy skin and developing age spots for years, mainly due to a liver condition that I deal with.  I use Frankincense, Lavender, and Myrrh on my face every day, followed by Fractionated Coconut Oil, and have personally experienced such great results that I rarely wear makeup anymore (this, coming from a former high end skin care products sales woman, who used to wear LOTS of makeup and use LOTS of these high-dollar skincare products).


Samara - I have a gentleman that gets skin cancer on his face very easily.  He goes in to get it burned off and is left with large scabs.  I want to suggest Frankincense and Lavender.  Any other thoughts?  Would you suggest he take it internally also?  What about Thyme to prevent the cancer?

Kathy - Frankincense definitely for skin cancer. As the scabs fall off, begin switching off and on with Lavender and Helichrysum as the skin regenerates.

Pat - Keep the Frankincense on the skin cancer topically as often as he thinks about it. He can also take the Frankincense internally with Lemon.

Christina - My father is 71 yrs. Old, diabetic and had skin cancer on his nose- you notice I said "had" skin cancer.  He used Frankincense every day all day on his nose and Helichrysum generously and frequently on his lesions that weren't healing. After surgery and follow up testing he is free of skin cancer on his nose!

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

from RIRDC  (Australian Government, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation)

Anti-cancer activity of tea tree oil

from RIRDC  (Australian Government, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation);  Published: 29-Jun-10

A report released today by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has highlighted the positive role tea tree oil (TTO) may play in the future in treating people with skin cancer.

The identification of anti-cancer activity of TTO is an important step in the process to identify, test and implement effective treatments for skin cancer.

“This research is encouraging, as researchers were able to successfully demonstrate a way to inhibit tumour growth in mice and induce tumour regression,” Dr Roslyn Prinsley, General Manager of RIRDC’s New Rural Industries said.

As part of the study, researchers from the University of Western Australia examined the efficacy of a topical TTO formulation as a potential anti-tumor agent using preclinical mouse cancer models.

Researchers measured changes in solid tumours grown under the skin in mice which were treated topically by rubbing the area with a TTO formulation.

Mice were treated for four days with the TTO formulation, with researchers monitoring the rate at which tumours grew, or started to subside.  

Researchers found that the TTO formulation significantly inhibited the growth of cancerous tumours in mice and also regressed the tumours during and after the treatment period for a time.  Only minor side effects (which appear to be important for topical chemotherapies to work effectively) were observed in the form of skin irritation which was temporary and cleared after a few days.

According to the report’s co-author, Dr Sara Greay from The University of Western Australia, the findings are significant as the tumours being studied are highly aggressive.

“We’ve known for a long time that tea tree oil has recognised health benefits, particularly its role in combating bacteria, fungi, and viruses” Dr Greay said.

“Although we and others have reported anti-cancer activity of tea tree oil against cells in vitro, no study has ever reported anti-tumour efficacy of tea tree oil in a preclinical cancer setting. “We believe the formulation is crucial to prevent the evaporation and increase the penetration of tea tree oil through the skin

“So what this new research tells us is that tea tree oil, in the right formulation may also play a role as a clinically effective topical treatment for skin cancer in humans.  

“If topical TTO can slow down aggressive solid tumours grown under the skin in mice, then its potential to be effective against cancers that grow within the skin is enormous. The potential next step is a clinical trial to test TTO formulations on people with precancerous lesions, with the aim of preventing the development of skin cancer,” Dr Greay said.

Dr Prinsley said that if that were the case, aside from the health benefits, it would be major step forward for Australia’s TTO industry in terms of its profile and financial viability.

Anti cancer activity of tea tree oil was funded by RIRDC and industry revenue from Novasel Pty Ltd.  The report is available on the RIRDC website www.rirdc.gov.au

Media enquiries: Duncan Sheppard ��� RIRDC Public Affairs Manager – 02 6271 4175 or 0458 215 604

Janine MacDonald – University of Western Australia media manager - 08 6488 5563 or 0432 637 716



Selective cytotoxicity of Aniba rosaeodora essential oil towards epidermoid cancer cells through induction of apoptosis.

Mutat Res. 2011 Jan 10;718(1-2):24-32. Epub 2010 Nov 9.;   Sœur J, Marrot L, Perez P, Iraqui I, Kienda G, Dardalhon M, Meunier JR, Averbeck D, Huang ME.;   UMR3348 "Genotoxic Stress and Cancer", Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut Curie, Université Paris-Sud 11, 91405 Orsay, France. jeremie.soeur@curie.u-psud.fr


Essential oils are complex mixtures of odorous and volatile compounds derived from secondary plant metabolism. They can be isolated from many plants by mechanical pressing or hydro- and steam-distillation and are known to induce a wide range of biological effects through their antibacterial, antifungal, cytotoxic, antioxidant and antimutagenic activities. In order to explore their beneficial properties on human skin cells, we investigated the effects of an essential oil from Rosewood Aniba rosaeodora (REO) on the human epidermoid carcinoma cell line A431, on immortal HaCaT cells thought to represent an early stage of skin carcinogenesis, on transformed normal HEK001 keratinocytes and on primary normal NHEK keratinocytes. In a defined range of concentrations, REO selectively killed A431 and HaCaT cells. The same treatments had only a minor cytotoxic effect on HEK001 and NHEK cells. Preferentially in A431 and HaCaT cells, REO triggered the production of reactive oxygen species, induced depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane and caused caspase-dependent cell death characterized by phosphatidylserine externalization, an early marker of apoptosis. Both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways were implicated in REO-induced cell death. The identification of selective induction of apoptosis in precancerous and cancerous skin cells by REO highlights the potential anticancer activity of this essential oil.


Editorial note:  DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation is considered the main etiologic factor contributing to the development of skin cancer.  Cnidium officinale makino and Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort are Asian herbs.

Antioxidant activity in essential oils of Cnidium officinale makino and Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort and their inhibitory effects on DNA damage and apoptosis induced by ultraviolet B in mammalian cell.

Cancer Epidemiol. 2009 Jul;33(1):41-6. Epub 2009 May 27;   Jeong JB, Ju SY, Park JH, Lee JR, Yun KW, Kwon ST, Lim JH, Chung GY, Jeong HJ.;   Major of Medicinal Plant Resources, College of Natural Sciences, Andong National University, Andong, Republic of Korea.



Owing to their high volatile aroma, the dried rhizomes of Cnidium officinale (C. officinale) and Ligusticum chuanxiong (L. chuanxiong) are used as herbal drugs to treat blood pressure depressant, a deficiency disease of antivitamin, inhibition of small intestine sympathetic nerve and as cosmetics for skin care. However, little has been known about the protective effect of their essential oils against ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced DNA damage.


In this study, we report antioxidant activity of their essential oils using DPPH and ABTS scavenging assay. In addition, the composition of essential oils was measured by GC/MS. We also investigated whether these essential oils could inhibit UVB-induced DNA damage and apoptosis in the mammalian cell using intracellular DNA migration and expression level of phospho-H2A.X.


Twenty constituents in the essential oil were identified and they showed good antioxidant properties, in that IC(50) value in DPPH and ABTS showed 6.79 and 7.33microg/ml and 1.58 and 1.58microg/ml in C. officinale and L. chuanxiong. Their treatment inhibited the migration of damaged DNA induced by UV-B; furthermore, they decreased p21 expression and increased cyclin D1 expression as apoptosis-regulatory genes.


These results suggest that essential oils in C. officinale and L. chuanxiong may exert inhibitory effects on DNA damage and apoptosis induced by UVB through their high free radical scavenging ability.


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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.