For all you lovers of essential oils, here we go with a review of delightful essential oil that few people are very familiar with. Hiba essential oil is derived by steam distillation from a Japanese tree belonging to the Cypress family.
This medium sized conifer tree is a popular ornamental tree in gardens and temples across Japan. Referred to in Japan as asunaro and also known by its scientific name Thujopsis dolabrata, the tree is valued for its appearance and aroma.
What many people are unaware of, even in its native Japan, is that the essential oil this tree produces has a surprising variety of medicinal benefits.
What Is Hiba Essential Oil?
Hiba essential oil is a fragrant, pale yellow oil steam distilled from the wood chips of the hiba tree. It has a strong woodsy aroma similar to that of cedarwood oil.
We have only just begun to touch the surface of the oil’s capabilities but it is typically used for its antibacterial qualities, its scent and as an effective natural insect repellent. The good news however, is that hiba essential oil may have far more uses than we were previously aware of.
Recent research has demonstrated that it might have applications in treating stress and anxiety and potentially even cancer.
Chemical Composition and Properties
So what is it about hiba essential oil that makes it such a useful weapon against illness?
Despite the fact that hiba essential oil is somewhat of a secret in the West, japanese researchers have long been aware of its powerful antimicrobial benefits and healing abilities.
They attribute these benefits to the three major components contained in the oil namely thujopsene, hinokitiol and β-dolabrin. Recent research has begun to uncover just how valuable hinokitiol (also referred to as β-thujaplicin) might be.
Hinokitiol (β-thujaplicin) is known to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects but recent studies have also revealed that it has anti-proliferative actions against a variety of cancers.
Benefits of Hiba Essential Oil
1) For Stress and Anxiety
Over recent years, researchers have started to truly understand the value of plant essential oils in the management and reduction of stress. Studies have demonstrated that a number of different essential oils increase the body’s ability to scavenge free radicals and help to decrease the levels of cortisol in the saliva both of which improve emotional well-being.
A recent study into the effects of inhaling hiba essential oil demonstrated that it significantly reduced stress levels in rats when compared to animals that were not treated. (1) These results are certainly interesting and researchers feel that hiba essential oil could be added to the growing list of essential oils that can help naturally treat common emotional issues like anxiety, stress and depression.
2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The same study looked into the ability of hiba essential oil to help treat some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The link between stress and irritable bowel syndrome is quite strong with stressful events exacerbating the symptoms of the condition.
These symptoms include stomach cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. By reducing a person’s stress levels, aromatherapy with hiba essential oil may also be a useful tool to naturally deal with some of these symptoms. (1)
At the heart of the majority of illness is inflammation making foods and natural oils that can combat inflammation naturally a powerful weapon against disease. Several studies have looked into the anti-inflammatory potential of hiba essential oil with promising results.
Hiba oil gets its anti-inflammatory activity primarily from one of its major constituents – hinokitiol or β-thujaplicin. (2) (3)
Being a natural anti-inflammatory oil, hiba essential oil has potential applications for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis as well as inflammatory joint conditions like arthritis.
Hiba essential oil has excellent antimicrobial properties. Research has demonstrated that it contains chemical compounds that act as an antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal substance. Because of this it has the potential to treat bacterial skin complaints and fungal conditions like athlete’s foot and dandruff. (4) (5) (6)
One in every two people will likely develop cancer at some point and the search for novel treatments has never been so desperate. In Japan where cancer is the leading cause of death, research has been done to evaluate the effects of hiba essential oil against the disease.
The researchers found that hiba essential oil had a powerful antitumor action when tested against gastric cancer cells. They also found that it was able to induce apoptosis or cell death in cancer cells in vitro.
The researchers concluded that hiba essential oil was a promising future treatment option for patients suffering gastric cancer. They attributed the success of the oil to its major constituent – hinokitiol. (7)
Other experiments have shown that hiba essential oil and its component hinokitiol were effective against melanoma (8), lung cancer (9), prostate cancer (10) and oral cancer. (11)
6) For the Skin
It is difficult to find much information regarding the use of hiba essential oil on the skin. However, because of its excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it should be well-suite to topical application and the treatment of numerous skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Its topical uses can also be extended to fungal skin conditions like toenail fungus, jock itch and athlete’s foot. As well as its uses on the skin, it should make a good option for treating infections of the scalp and for eliminating dandruff.
Before applying hiba essential oil to the skin, be sure to dilute it properly with a suitable base oil such as coconut, jojoba or olive oil.
7) Insect repellent
There is a Japanese saying that translates into something like ‘in houses made from hiba wood, mosquitoes stay away for three years.’
Hiba essential oil not only makes for a great mosquito repellent but it is also effect against any number of those creepy crawlies that you are trying to keep away.
Try simply diffusing your hiba essential oil around the home or alternatively making a homemade repellent spray by mixing a good few drops with water in a spray bottle.
8) Expel Odors
As well as its health benefits, hiba essential oil is popular in Japan for more practical reasons. Its pleasant aroma and strong antimicrobial actions make it suitable for cleaning the kitchen or bathroom and keeping bacteria at bay.
It also makes for a great deodorizer if you want to keep your home, office or car smelling fresh. Diffusing hiba essential oil can help get rid of nasty smells from cooking or smoking which is especially useful when you are expecting guests to visit.
How to Use it
- Hiba essential oil blends well with numerous more familiar oils including bergamot, frankincense, juniper, jasmine and rosemary.
- For topical use make sure that you dilute your hiba oil well with a base oil to avoid the risk of adverse skin reactions. If you are new to hiba oil, it is best to perform a patch test before applying a larger dose.
- Diffuse your hiba essential oil at night tor throughout the day to help relax your mind and clear away your anxiety.
- Add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and use your hiba oil to keep insects away or to cleanse your home of grime and bacteria.
- Do not ingest hiba essential oil.
- Dilute your oil before applying it topically.
- Avoid using this oil while pregnant or breastfeeding.