In vitro studies of a distillate of rectified essential oils on sinonasal components of mucociliary clearance

Am J Rhinol Allergy. May-Jun 2014;28(3):244-8. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2014.28.4036.


Background: Herbal remedies predate written history and continue to be used frequently for many common ailments. The essential oil mixture standardized is a phytopharmaceutical with a distillate of a mixture of rectified essential oils of eucalyptus, sweet orange, myrtle, and lemon as active ingredients used to treat respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and rhinosinusitis. We evaluated the pharmacologic effects of a distillate of rectified essential oils standardized on primary human upper respiratory epithelial cultures specifically addressing electrolyte transport, cilia beat frequency (CBF), airway surface liquid (ASL) hydration, and mucus transport velocity.

Methods: Well-differentiated primary human sinonasal epithelial cultures grown at an air-liquid interface were treated on the apical or basolateral surface with varying concentrations of a distillate of rectified essential oils standardized. Changes in CBF were determined using the Sissons-Ammons Video Analysis system while changes in chloride flux were determined using the fluorescent dye 6-methoxy-N-(3-sulfopropyl)quinolinium. ASL hydration was quantified using Texas red dextran and mucociliary transport velocity was measured using fluorescent microspheres and time lapse photography.

Results: When applied to the basolateral surface, a distillate of rectified essential oils standardized activated chloride efflux and ciliary beat in a dose-dependent fashion, increasing ASL height and accelerating mucociliary transport velocity. The ancillary apical application of a distillate of rectified essential oils standardized had minimal effects on the CBF.

Conclusion: Basolateral application of a distillate of rectified essential oils standardized stimulates both chloride efflux and cilia beat frequency resulting in a synergistic effect dramatically augmenting mucociliary transport velocity. These in vitro data support the clinical efficacy of this phytopharmaceutical in respiratory inflammatory disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchitis / therapy*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorides / metabolism*
  • Citrus sinensis
  • Complex Mixtures / pharmacology
  • Complex Mixtures / therapeutic use
  • Cymbopogon
  • Distillation
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Eucalyptus
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / drug effects
  • Mucociliary Clearance / drug effects
  • Myrtus
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Paranasal Sinuses / cytology
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Rhinitis / therapy*
  • Sinusitis / therapy*


  • Chlorides
  • Complex Mixtures
  • Oils, Volatile