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elemicin|Elemicin|elemicin||elemicin||Elemecin Infographic


Terpene Profile: Elemicin

Elemicin is a natural, organic compound which is found in a number of different essential oils. It is named after the Canarium Luzonicum, or elemi tree, and is also found in mace and nutmeg. It was originally isolated from elemi oil through a process of vacuum distillation. The oil is being researched for its potential hallucinogenic and psychoactive effects, as well as for other general health benefits. 1

essential oil bottle with pine needles Use In Aromatherapy

Typically, it is not the extracted elemicin which is used in aromatherapy, but elemi essential oil, which is the oil that comes from the resin of the elemi tree. Elemi contains not just elemicin, but also limonene, elemol, terpineol, and other constituents.

Elemicin itself is often referred to as having an anticholinergic effect, but the impacts of the extract are not fully understood. There have been some verifiable animal studies conducted on elemicin, which shows that it can act as a hallucinogen, but studies on humans are limited. 2

Those who are looking to benefit from the aromatherapeutic effects of elemicin would do so not from the isolated compound, but rather use elemi essential oil or another botanical containing elemicin such as nutmeg, mace or parsley seed. Elemi essential oil has shown to be non-sensitizing, even when used on the skin, and offers a number of benefits.

Inhalation for Aromatherapy

Elemi essential oil can be safely inhaled either through steam inhalation or through room diffusion. If the essential oil is being used for the purposes of clearing congestion, then it makes sense to use steam inhalation, because this will help to clear the sinuses. In this aspect, Elemi essential oil can help to reduce headaches caused by blocked sinuses, and can also combat hay fever.

To use as a steam inhalation:

  • Boil two cups of water, and transfer them to a large, deep bowl

  • Add two drops of the essential oil to the water

  • Place your head above the bowl so that your face is above but not touching the water

  • Cover your head and the bowl with a towel (ideally one that is warm)

  • Sit quietly for five minutes, inhaling the steam

Safety and Precautions

Another way of applying the oil is topically, either as a massage oil, or a cream. When it is used topically, concentrations should be very low, in the realms of half a percent. You can add the oil to your favorite unscented moisturizer, and it will help to reduce scars, soothe sun damage, and act as a rejuvenating, antioxidant cream. Do not apply the oil neat because it can irritate the skin. Also, do not let elemi, or elemicin, come into contact with the eyes or with any mucous membranes.

It is recommended not to take elemi or elemicin orally. Some people do tout the benefits of elemi oil to help with digestive distress, but it should not be ingested. Massaging the oil into the stomach, in small quantities, can help with stomach pain and discomfort, but it is possible that the beneficial effects here come from the massaging motion, rather than from the oil itself.

The oil can also be used as an expectorant, and as a toner. It is popular as a relaxant and is frequently mixed with other oils as well to produce more generally soothing effects. Unlike some milder oils, however, it must only be used in small quantities to prevent irritation and side effects.

Elemecin Infographic

pain relief Additional Information

When elemicin is metabolized in humans, it will break down into a number of inactive metabolites. Chemically, emilicin is similar to mescaline, and it breaks down in a few different ways - including to some mescaline-like metabolites. Some of these metabolites can produce effects that are similar to those of mescaline; however, for the most part, this is not likely to happen. 3

Psychoactively, elemicin is inactive in humans, although because of the way it is metabolized there is still a rare chance of people achieving psychedelic effects from its ingestion under the right conditions. Studies conducted on rats show that the 5-HT2A activation system can produce effects similar to those of LSD, however, these studies have limited human value because rats metabolize elemicin into one of the mescaline-like alkaloid metabolites, where humans do not. It is more likely that the 5-HT2A activation was caused by the metabolites, rather than by the elemicin itself.

In humans, elemicin is broken down into methoxyeugenol, or o-demethyl dihydrox elemicin, or into 1'-hydroxyelemicin, 1'-hydroxyelemicin glucoronide, or 1'-sulfoyxelemicin. These metabolites appear in different quantities in different people, although there are some factors which impact which metabolites are generated - for example, 1'-hydroxelemicin is not generated when a human ingests nutmeg, which contains elemicin - it is thought, but has not yet been confirmed, that nutmeg contains enzyme inhibitors which stop the metabolic process which produces this particular metabolite.

It is possible to create other metabolites in vivo, including piperidine metabolite, dimethylamine metabolite, and pyrrolidine metabolite. The mechanisms that produce these are not yet fully understood.

Chemical Formula: 4 C 12 H 16 O 3

Molecular Weight: 208.25g

Boiling Point: 279.8 °C at 760 mmHg

Flash Point: 92.6 °C

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