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Domestic herbs & Essential oils

Development of domestic essential oil and the prospect



      We have become a full-fledged aged society with the fast-paced glowing that no other country in the world has yet experienced. Living longer is a delight however a substantial rise of medical care and long-term care costs is becoming serious social issue. Changes of kinds of disease make people more focus to the preventions from the treatments. Various treatments are given not only hospitals but also homes by doctors, family, and societies. In the result, a concept “integrated medicine” was raised from developed countries which have these common problems. “Integrated medicine” means person centered medicine, that focus the conventional medicine which used medicines, operations, and radiation therapy and the alternative medicine which included aromatherapy, herbal therapy, diet remedy, psychotherapy, and music and spa therapy. For example, pharmaceutical therapy, such as antibiotic is effective for infectious diseases, meanwhile insomnia, depression, and dementia are improved by aromatherapy and music therapy than pharmaceutical therapy, which was scientifically proved.


  1.  An efficacy and application of aromatherapy

      In integrated medicine, a frequently use in complementary and alternative medicine is aromatherapy. In aromatherapy, a scent of essential oil is converted to a signal at the depths of nasal and reached in the limbic system. In the structure of human brain, the limbic system is lying beneath the neocortical surface that covers the brain. The limbic system rules the vital instincts, such as appetite, sexual desire, sleep, memory, and emotion. On the other hand, a neocortex rules the acquired intellect. Information from visual and other except olfactory sensations go direct to neocortex, while the olfactory sense is inputted the limbic system. Incidentally, people of today likely to get 80% of their information is from visual sensation. Is it an exaggeration to say, people is prior to get lots of information, as a result which deaden the instinct of as a creature in the advanced information society? In the In Search of Lost Time written by Marcel Proust, there is a scene that a forgotten memory was revived by a smell of madeleine dunked in a black tea, which is not altogether fiction. A decline of olfactory sense starts faster than a decline of remembrance, and a cognitive function decline was improved due to regrowth of an olfactory nerve by a smell stimulation were reported in the latest studies in dementia. Therefore it could be said that aromatherapy is effective and useful, when we thought many people are suffering from insomnia, depression, overeating, apoclesis, and sexual dysfunction.   


    2.  Development and present condition of domestic essential oil

      Aromatherapy has known since The Art of Aromatherapy written by Robert Tisserand who is one of the world’s leading experts in aromatherapy was translated and published in 1985 in Japan. At that time, all essential oils in Japan were imported, for example a lavender and a rose came from France and Bulgaria. At that time, I have worked on a research and diffusion of aromatherapy as a pharmacist, and started the development of domestic essential oils since 2000. Japan, which extends about 3,000km from north to south, has various climate from a subarctic zone to a sub-tropical zone that provide the habitats of aromatic plants. The reason for the starting of the domestic essential oil development was a simple motive that although aromatherapy is a foreign daily life culture, a yuzu and Japanese cypress bath are also possible to say The Japanese Aroma Bath? And the history of essential oil in Japan tells unexpected facts. In the past, Japanese domestic essential oils were produced and exported to abroad. The distilled mint essential oil which started the cultivation in Okayama in 1817 was exported over 200t, it accounted for 80% of the global market. 5,000t of camphor which was distilled from Cinnamomum camphora was produced and exported as a material of celluloid in 1917. However, after World War II, a substantial rise of labor costs and a liberalization of aroma chemical have come as a devastating blow to Japanese domestic essential oil and continues up to today.


    3.  Functionality and specific instance of domestic essential oil

      In the present, a total 13 kinds of domestic essential oils, FSC Abies sachalinensis (Hokkaido), Mentha arvensis (Hokkaido), Thujopsis dolabrata (Aomori), Chamaecyparis obtuse (Nagano), Lindera umbellate (Saitama), Citrus tachibana (Shizuoka), Sciadopitys verticillata (Wakayama), Citrus tamurana (Kochi), Citrus junos (Kochi), Zingiber officinale (Kochi), Cinnamomum camphora (Ibaraki), Alpinia zerumbet.excelsa (Okinawa), Citrus depressa (Okinawa) are developed. In some essential oils, the brief summary of the constituents of essential oil and the functionality were below.   







  1. Citrus tachibana

      Citrus tachibana is genetically native to Japan and according to historical documents, an emperor commanded to find a medicine for perpetual youth and longevity, it was Citrus tachibana. Nobiletin is regarded as an effective constituent for improving dementia and the clinical research is started. The essential oil distilled from the peel of Citrus tachibana is including a limonene, terpinene, pinene, and linalool and used for sensitive to cold, insomnia, and depression because of the warming and antianxiety effects. Especially, the essential oil is effective for a decline of an interest due to dementia.



    2. Sciadopitys verticillata

      Sciadopitys verticillata is native evergreen conifer to Japan and one of the world’s best 3 beautiful forest. A Japanese monk, Kukai (774-835) also known posthumously as Kobo-Daishi offered the leaves and branches of sciadopitys verticillata instead of flowers to Buddha and a holy place of Shingon sect, Koyasan is full the aroma of sciadopitys verticillata. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and branches includes a pinene, caryophyllene, limonene, and cedrol. Caryophyllene influences the cannabinoid system controlled a throbbing pain and causes an inflammation and analgesic effect. Cedrol influences a parasympathetic nerve through a vagus nerve of the lower respiratory tract and causes a sedation. Therefore the essential oil is used for inflammation, throbbing pain, insomnia, disquieting, and especially agitation out of dementia symptoms.   



    3. Cinnamomum camphora

      The incense of cinnamomum camphora was regarded to have a capacity to cleanse the place, therefore cinnamomum camphora is deified as a sacred tree traditionally. The historical carving of a Buddhist statues in Hotyu-ji (Nara) and Hase-dera (Nara) were made from cinnamomum camphora. Essential oil and sorbet-like crystal of camphor are obtained from distillation of the xylem. The essential oil is including a camphor, safrole, limonene, and terpineol. Camphor is known as a restorative, the scent doesn’t have sharpness like stung noses and moderate impression. In scientific researches, the scent causes activation of parasympathetic nervous system, in other words a relaxing effect is caused. A single or blend with mint essential oil uses are good for the cure of muscular pain for external use.



    4. Lindera umbellata

      Lindera umbellate is used for material of toothpick which has the elegant scent and strong untibacterial power. Another story is a rite for thanksgiving after hunting used lindera umbellate. Kunio Yanagida who is a famous folklorist expressed the scent of lindera umbellate is unforgettable tree scent which remains in nose of Japanese since early times. The scent is unique that is not included in a native of the Western and some of smelled the scent is fascinated in an instant. The essential oil distilled from branch and leaves includes a linalool, cineol, limonene, and geraniol and often used for an unidentified complaint, coldness, and gynecological problems because of the sedation, anti-inflammatory analgesic, and improvement of blood circulation effect.











    5. Abies sachalinensis

       Abies sachalinensis is distributed Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril and the scientific name, sachalinensis means Sakhalin. Abies sachalinensis, inhabit a cold district, appears in tree-myth of Celtic and Germanic and is familiar as Christmas tree. The distilled essential oil includes a pinene, camphene, bornyl acetate, and limonene and the scent has a characteristic like a deep forest with balsam-like. Essential oil is used for a respiratory problem, such as bronchitis with an aromatic bath and aspiration, and articular rheumatism and a throbbing pain as a bath salts, and as inunctions same as other conifers. In recent research, bornyl acetate has an improving vigilance effect was reported.


    6. Thujopsis dolabrata

      Thujopsis dolabrata is known one of the top 3 beautiful forest with Chamaecyparis obtuse and Cryptomeria japonica in Japan. Thujopsis dolabrata is used for building materials of temples because the aroma of thujopsis dolabrata was believed to drive out noxious vapors and to purify oneself since ancient times. The power of an insect-repellent and antimicrobial action could protect the Chusonji Golden Hall from damages of molds and fungi for more than 800 years. Essential oil distilled from the xylem includes a Thujopsene, cedrol, and hinokitiol, and the antibacterial power of hinokitiol is extremely strong, and known to protect the low concentration methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes a hospital infection.


    7. Mentha arvensis

      Essential oil of Mentha arvensis includes more menthol compare to a native Western peppermint, a characteristic is a refreshing smell filled with nature. Mentha arvensis is known as a medicine according to Japanese ancient texts. Essential oil is separated from the crystal menthol after a cooldown of the crude oil from leaves. The essential oil includes menthol, menthone, and isomenthone, and is used for an indigestion, constipation, headache, muscle pain, stuffy nose of cold, and hay fever due to the regulation of a smooth muscle and a local anesthesia with external use or aspiration. The essential oil has published in The Japanese Pharmacopoeia (2016) as a material of aromatic stomachic, local Antipruritic, and aromatic.       



     4.  Prospects of domestic essential oil

      In south France Grasse, where was a mecca of perfume industry, Integrated Aromatic Medicine International Symposium takes place every year. I had given a talk there about “Research and Development of Domestic Essential Oil in Japan”. I showed a scene of Japanese incense ceremony by a lady wearing Japanese dress. Not only incense ceremony, people centripetally pursue “the way” of Japanese flower arrangement and tea ceremony beyond their life culture in Japan. Meanwhile, princess Anna Maria made a scent of neroli popular in Paris society using glove dropped neroli oil. Compare with those two stories, a big difference of incense culture between the East and West is shown.

By the way, cinnamon, clove, and mint for incense and aromatherapy have medical properties, which is enough to say from the Japanese Pharmacopoeia (2016). Integrated medicine integrates cure, care, body, mind, and spirit, science and art, and energy and entropy. A hint for future medicine may exist in a faraway past.


                                                                                                                                                                              ……  Shinichiro Hayashi

Japanese Green Tea

Tea is the second consumed drink in the world after water. Tea is called by different names in different countries or areas. However the origins were split into two generally, “cha or chai” and “te or tea” depending the proximity to either China or Europe, respectively. Almost all teas such as green, white, oolong, black, and pu’erh except maté and rooibos are made from Camellia sinensis, the significant differences come from the processing of the leaves. Oxidation in leaves starts right after leaves are picked. Black tea is fully oxidized, oolong tea is half of oxidized, and green and white tea are barely oxidized at all.

       As well-known, drinking tea was introduced from China by Japanese Buddhist monk in 7-8 century. The manner became common among aristocrats and monks in 9 century at the time, tea was harden tea leaves like ball named “dan cha”. In Song dynasty of China, the way of drinking tea was changed to use matcha, and introduced Japan. Buddhist monks drank matcha to avoid sleepiness and to concentrate their mentality for Zen practices.  Chinese monk Eisai wrote “Kissa yojoki” which written about medical effect of tea in 1211. Early 14 century, a game called “To-cha” was in fashion, people drink tea first, and guess the area tea was grown. In the late 15 century, Jyuko Murata (1423-1502) created “wabi-cha” was based on the simplicity of Zen spirit and spirituality of “wabi”. Subsequently, Sen no rikyu established sa-do. In 1830s the finest quality green tea “gyokuro” tasted mellow, sweet, and full bodied, came into being in Uji area.The most famous tea production area is Sizuoka prefecture, tea is exposed to the strong wind and rain and cultivated on the hillside or riverside where crops could not survive. The different quality of soil shows different color and quality of tea leaf.

In 2015, the total area of picked green tea was 35,600 ha, its one percent decline and the yield of fresh leaf showed four percent decline, 357,800t compare with 2014 in Japan. According to survey, more than 82% Japanese drink green tea every day. In Japan,  green tea are drunk in the morning after waking, after or during every meal, for break in the afternoon, to show hospitality whenever guests visit. Usually Japanese enjoy many kinds of flavours and tastes for example “sencha”, “gyokuro”, “matcha”, “hojicha”, “genmaicha”, and “bancha” which differences came from processing way of green tea.

The taste is a little bitterness and astringency, and it is perfectly refreshing your mouth after meals. Most distributed Japanese green tea is Sen-cha which account for 60% of all kinds of green tea.

Processing green tea is delicate and has several significant steps required specialized skills. Eight work sequences are necessary for ready to drink after picked leaves from tree. 

Manufacturing Japanese green tea takes more than five hours with much labour if all sequences are done by hand. Recently, most of the processing steps have become automated. Hand making tea, however, is still practiced by some processors as the hand-rolling technique is a cultural heritage.

       Recently, a number of scientific studies have suggested that green tea has medicinal effects, reducing high cholesterol and treating cancer, diabetes, and liver disease. In the natural elements and nutrients in Japanese green teas, the most consumed sencha has the highest tannin (catechin), carbohydrate, and vitamin C, E, and B1 level among gyokuro, sencha, houjicha, and matcha.

Catechins are one of the major polyphenolic compounds in green tea, which works on preventing these various vascular diseases.

Usually catechin is very widespread, especially in woody plants and some medicinal plants contain catechin such as Agrimonia eupatoria (agrimony), Crataegus laevigata (hawthorn), Salix alba (white willow), and Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry). Significant effects of the catechins are antioxidative, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-thrombogenic, and lipid lowering, and all of actions are important for maintaining vascular health. The major catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) was suggested the great potential in cancer preventive properties, such as liver, stomach, skin, lung, mammary gland, and colon cancer. EGCG functions not only as a powerful antioxidant and preventing oxidative damage in healthy cells, but also an antiangiogenic and antitumor agent. EGCG stimulates telomere fragmentation through inhibiting telomerase activity. Some scientific journals suggest that green tea catechin may help in controlling type II diabetes by daily consumption. EGCG blocks sodium-dependent glucose transporter 1 (SGLY1) and lipid micelle formation in the intestine.

       Most of convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan sell so many kinds of green tea of PET bottle. Some of brand put a mark “food for specified health uses” indicates the clear healthy effects such as cholesterol reduction or gentle rising of blood sugar after meals, and gotten the approval of marking from Consumer Affairs Agency. These types of foods are used for sustaining your health and prevention in the stage of pre-symptomatic disease.

Maiko Inoue (2017) Culture, History, and Applications of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Japan. Aromatic and medicinal plants. H.El-Shemy(Edi), INTECH 

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