The essential oils of Chamaecyparis obtusa promote hair growth through the induction of vascular endothelial growth factor gene

Fitoterapia. 2010 Jan;81(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2009.06.016. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


Chamaecyparis obtusa (C. obtusa) is a conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae, native to northeast Asia. The essential oils of C. obtusa have antibacterial and antifungal effects and several products such as hygienic bands, aromatics, and shampoos contain these oils as a natural source of antimicrobial/antifungal agents. Interestingly, some consumers suffering from baldness and/or other forms of hair loss have reported a hair growth promoting effect of shampoos containing these oils. In the present study, the hair growth promoting effect of C. obtusa oils was elucidated in an animal model. C. obtusa oils promoted the early phase of hair growth in shaved mice. In addition, we examined the molecular effect of C. obtusa oils on the regulation of hair morphogenesis and hair growth using the human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT. In the current study of hair growth regulating genes, the expressions of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor (TGF beta 1), and keratinocyte growth factor(KGF) have been analyzed by real-time PCR in HaCaT cells. The essential oils of C. obtusa were divided into seven fractions for treatment of HaCaT cells. VEGF transcripts were induced by fractions 6 and 7; however, TGF beta 1 and KGF mRNA levels were unchanged by C. obtusa oils or fractions. Fraction 7 was separated into seven sub-fractions and studied further. Sub-fractions E and D significantly increased VEGF and KGF gene expression without up-regulating the hair growth inhibition factor, TGF beta 1. The components of the two sub-fractions were further analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Cuminol, eucarvone, and calamenene were common to these two sub-fractions, although the effects of these individual components were not determined. Taken together, these results suggest that C. obtusa oils promote hair growth in an animal model and a positive regulator of hair growth, VEGF, was induced by particular components of these oils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chamaecyparis / chemistry*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 7