Alpha Bisabolol

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Bisabolol is a terpenoid isolated from German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and South African sage (Salvia runcinata). German Chamomile (with bisabolol as the major active terpenoid) has traditionally been used in dizziness, cramps and headaches (1), and bisabolol exhibits analgesic (pain-reducing), anti-bacterial, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-allergenic activities (3,4).

Pure bisabolol is a colorless to pale yellow viscous liquid with a floral scent, and due to its extremely low toxicity is commonly used for flavouring liquids and colouring foods (2).

Bisabolol is anti-amyloidogenic and anti-apoptotic in brain tissue, protecting against age-related memory decline (5).

The high level of a-bisabolol present in German chamomile oil is credited for providing several of its biological properties ranging from anti-bacterial activity to anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory activities (6,7,8,9,10,11). Bisabolol has shown such promise in protecting breast (12), brain (14), and pancreatic (15,16) tissues that it has been suggested to be used both as an adjunctive therapy to enhance radiotherapy (13) and as a lead compound in the design of adjunctive pharmaceuticals (17).

Bisabolol has also been demonstrated to accelerate the healing of burns, ulcers and cuts (18). Further, bisabolol is able to enhance the permeation of other compounds across membranes and skin, making it potentially very useful for increasing the absorption of other transdermal and oral compounds (19).

There is also evidence for the use of bisabolol in reducing inflammation of the gut as well as visceral nociception via a variety of potential mechanisms (20,21).

 Key references:

  • Anti-inflammatory (6,7,8,9,10)

  • Anti-irritant (3,4)

  • Anti-oxidant (5,9)

  • Anti-microbial (3,4)

  • Pain-reducing (2)

  • Relaxant (2)

  • Anti-proliferative (6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17)

  • Wound healing (18)

  • Skin penetration enhancer (19)

  • Reduced gut inflammation (20,21)


1 - Kamatou GPP, Viljoen AM, Lourens ACU, Baser KHC, Demirci B, Lindsey KL, Van Staden J, Steenkamp P (2005) The in vitro pharmacological activities and a chemical investigation of three South African Salvia specie. J Ethnopharmacol 102:382-390

2 - Femenia-Font A, Balaguer-Fernandez C, Merino V, et al. Effect of chemical enhancers on the in vitro percutaneous absorption of sumatriptan succinate. Eur J Pharm Bio pharm 2005; 61:50-5.

3 - Isaac O, Thiemer K (1975) [Biochemical studies on camomile components/III. In vitro studies about the antipeptic activity of (-) alpha-bisablol (author’s transl)]. Azneimittelforschung 25:1352-1354

4 - Viljoen AM, Gono-Bwalya AB, Kamatou GPP, Baser KHC, Demirci B (2006) The essential oil composition and chemotaxonomy of Salvia stenophylla and its allies S. repens and S. runcinate. J Essent Oil Res 18:37-45

5 - Balakrishnan Shanmuganathan, Venkatesan Suryanarayanan, Sethuraman Sathya, Muralidharan Narenkumar, Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Kandasamy Ruckmani, Kasi Pandima Devi (2018) Anti-amyloidogenic and anti-apoptotic effect of a-bisabolol against Aβ induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 143, 1196-1207.

6 - Kadir R, Barry BW (1991) a-bisabolol, a possible safe penetration enhancer for dermal and transdermal therapeutics. Int J Pharm 70:87-94

7 - Baylac S, Racine P (2003) Inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase by essential oils and other natural fragrant extracts. Int J Aromather 13: 138-192

8 - Van Zyl RL, Seatholo ST, Van Vuuren SF, Viljoen AM (2006) The biological activities of 20 nature identical essential oil constituents J Essent Oil res 18:129-133

9 - Siegenthaler G, Saurat JH, Ponec M (1988) Terminal differentiation in cultured human keratinocytes is associated with increased levels of cellular retinoic acid-binding protein. Exp Cell Res 178:114-126

10 - Zheng Y, Niyonsaba F, Ushio H, Ikeda S, Nagaoka I, Okumura K, Ogawa H (2008) Microbicidal protein psoriasin is a multifunctional modulator of neutrophil activation. Immunology 124:357-367

11 - Chirumbolo, S., & Bjørklund, G. (2017). The sesquiterpene α-bisabolol in the adipocyte− cancer desmoplastic crosstalk: does it have an action on epithelial− mesenchymal transition mechanisms?. International journal of clinical oncology, 22(2), 222-228.

12 - Costarelli, L., Malavolta, M., Giacconi, R., Cipriano, C., Gasparini, N., Tesei, S., & Piacenza, F. (2009). In vivo effect of α-bisabolol, a nontoxic sesquiterpene alcohol, on the induction of spontaneous mammary tumors in HER-2/neu transgenic mice. Oncology Research Featuring Preclinical and Clinical Cancer Therapeutics, 18(9), 409-418.

13 - Fang, D., Wang, H., Li, M., & Wei, W. (2019). α-bisabolol enhances radiotherapy-induced apoptosis in endometrial cancer cells by reducing the effect of XIAP on inhibiting caspase-3. Bioscience reports, 39(6).

14 - Cavalieri, E., Mariotto, S., Fabrizi, C., de Prati, A. C., Gottardo, R., Leone, S., & Suzuki, H. (2004). α-Bisabolol, a nontoxic natural compound, strongly induces apoptosis in glioma cells. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 315(3), 589-594.

15 - Seki, T., Kokuryo, T., Yokoyama, Y., Suzuki, H., Itatsu, K., Nakagawa, A., & Nagino, M. (2011). Antitumor effects of α‐bisabolol against pancreatic cancer. Cancer science, 102(12), 2199-2205.

16 - Uno, M., Kokuryo, T., Yokoyama, Y., Senga, T., & Nagino, M. (2016). α-Bisabolol inhibits invasiveness and motility in pancreatic cancer through KISS1R activation. Anticancer research, 36(2), 583-589.

17 - da Silva, A. P., Martini, M. V., de Oliveira, C. M., Cunha, S., de Carvalho, J. E., Ruiz, A. L., & da Silva, C. C. (2010). Antitumor activity of (−)-α-bisabolol-based thiosemicarbazones against human tumor cell lines. European journal of medicinal chemistry, 45(7), 2987-2993.

18 - Villegas, L. F., Marcalo, A., Martin, J., Fernandez, I. D., Maldonado, H., Vaisberg, A. J., & Hammond, G. B. (2001). (+)-epi-Alpha-bisabolol is the wound-healing principle of Peperomia galioides: investigation of the in vivo wound-healing activity of related terpenoids. Journal of Natural Products, 64(10), 1357-1359.

19 - Kadir, R., & Barry, B. W. (1991). α-Bisabolol, a possible safe penetration enhancer for dermal and transdermal therapeutics. International journal of pharmaceutics, 70(1-2), 87-94.

20 - Leite, G. D. O., Leite, L. H., Sampaio, R. D. S., Araruna, M. K. A., de Menezes, I. R. A., da Costa, J. G. M., & Campos, A. R. (2011). (−)-α-Bisabolol attenuates visceral nociception and inflammation in mice. Fitoterapia, 82(2), 208-211.

21 - de Oliveira Leite, G., Fernandes, C. N., de Menezes, I. R. A., da Costa, J. G. M., & Campos, A. R. (2012). Attenuation of visceral nociception by α-bisabolol in mice: investigation of mechanisms. Organic and medicinal chemistry letters, 2(1), 18.