Recently, the application of herbal medicine for the prevention and treatment of diseases has gained increasing attention. Essential oils (EOs) are generally known to exert various pharmacological effects, such as antiallergic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects. Current literature involving in vitro and in vivo studies indicates the potential of various herbal essential oils as suitable immunomodulators for the alternative treatment of infectious or immune diseases. This review highlights the cellular effects induced by EOs, as well as the molecular impacts of EOs on cytokines, immunoglobulins, or regulatory pathways. The results reviewed in this article revealed a significant reduction in relevant proinflammatory cytokines, as well as induction of anti-inflammatory markers. Remarkably, very little clinical study data involving the immunomodulatory effects of EOs are available. Furthermore, several studies led to contradictory results, emphasizing the need for a multiapproach system to better characterize EOs. While immunomodulatory effects were reported, the toxic potential of EOs must be clearly considered in order to secure future applications.
- Essential oils
- Tea tree
- Immunity, Innate/drug effects
- Plant Oils/pharmacology
- Immunologic Factors/pharmacology
- Immune System Diseases/drug therapy
- Oils, Volatile/pharmacology