A recent study from experts at Ruhr-University Bochum suggests that the olfactory receptor could be a beneficial way to hone in on liver cancer diagnosis and therapy. In particular, they’ve eyed the monoterpene citronell as possible way to identify and treat cancerous liver cells.
The finding has its roots in the understanding that terpenes, which are responsible for the distinctive smells found in many plants’ essential oils, have previously been shown to suppress cancer development.
However, this study focused solely on citronell, with promising results.
How lemon scent may play a role in liver cancer diagnosis and treatment
In the journal where the study was published, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, it notes that this finding shows:
…an effect on hepatocellular carcinoma progression. Here, we provide for the first time data on the molecular mechanism evoked by (-)-citronellal in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. The identified olfactory receptor could serve as a potential therapeutic target for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Overall, exposure to citronell was found to reduce cell proliferation when it came to hepatocellular progression, more commonly known as liver cancer. It’s thought that liver cancer is caused primarily by excessive alcohol consumption, cirrhosis and hepatitis and that it claims the lives of up to 12,000 deaths annually in the United States. In Germany, where the study was conducted, approximately 8,900 people die annually from liver cancer, which is the third most common tumor-induced cause of death in the country.
This discovery involved focusing on cintronellal, a subset of terpenes. Terpenes trigger cells’ signaling processes by olfactory receptor activation. Using a liver tumor as a model, the researchers found that the “…decisive olfactory receptor OR1A2 occurs in liver cells and is responsible for detection of the citrus scent and cellular reaction. If the option for producing that receptor had been removed from the cells, they did no longer react to the terpene.”
Of the finding, the researchers state, “these results are yet another example for the significance of olfactory receptors outside the nose, and they give rise to hope that new drugs with no severe side effects may be developed for cancer therapy.”
The power of scent can help heal mental and physical conditions
The healing power of scent is one that is gaining more widespread attention.
Integrative medical doctor Julie Chen, M.D. says that she often recommends aromatherapy to her patients. They come to her to help improve upon a range of mental and physical conditions ranging from depression to rheumatoid arthritis. She says that lemon is ideal for healing those with fatigue, headaches, depression, muscle aches and indigestion.
“When we are exposed to an aroma, the molecules are exposed to our olfactory epithelium, our nasal receptors,” she explains. “The transmission of this signal from the exposure of the fragrance molecule to our brain leads to interpretation of the scent in our brain centers, which involve memory, sensory perception, general processing center, and to a gland in our brain that mediates chemical secretion into our blood and other parts of our brain, just to name a few effects.”
Dr. Chen explains that people react differently to some scents than others. The key is to find the ones that best trigger a positive response. She says, “…all you have to do is to choose the specific scents that will help you achieve your specific goals for overall mind and body well being, and your nose and brain will the do the rest.”