Niaouli oils from different sources: analysis and influence on cutaneous permeation of estradiol in vitro

Drug Deliv. 2009 Jul;16(5):237-42. doi: 10.1080/10717540902896297.


Previous studies in vitro had identified niaouli essential oil (NEO) as a valuable transdermal permeation promoter for estradiol (ES). Subsequent considerations on the complex issue of NEO provenance and composition stimulated the present investigation, which was aimed at defining the composition of NEOs obtained from four different sources, at evaluating their influence on transdermal permeation of ES through hairless mouse skin, and at formulating and evaluating simpler terpene mixtures mimicking the NEOs' composition. While all oils contained 1,8-cineol (eucalyptol) as the main component, appreciable variations in composition could be evidenced, originating differences on the ES cutaneous permeation. Two artificial mixtures containing the same proportions of the main terpenes present in each oil (except the commercially unavailable gamma-terpineol) proved equal or significantly superior in activity when compared with the original oils. It is felt that this study might contribute to the formulation of terpene mixtures acting more efficiently and reproducibly with respect to natural NEOs, whose complex and variable composition, depending on growing place, season, and extraction process, is well documented in the relevant literature.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous*
  • Animals
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers / pharmacology
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage*
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Melaleuca / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Skin Absorption / drug effects*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical
  • Terpenes / administration & dosage*
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Drug Carriers
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Terpenes
  • Estradiol
  • gomenol