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Natural Products / ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential Oil Extraction

The Natural Products Unit (NPU) of the SRC was established in 1987 with a mandate to enhance the utilization of organic resources, for the economic benefit of Jamaica.  To date, our main objective has been the investigation of the potential of local plant extracts for wealth creation, with special emphasis on:  Essential Oils, Nutraceuticals and Medicinals.  Client Request Activities are also an integral part of our focus.

In keeping with our Quality Management System we employ only Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) driven processes in our research, with a high use of validated methods and compulsory verification of all equipment used.  This, along with our competent team of Research Scientists trained at the Masters and Doctoral levels, ensure results of the highest quality.


Development/Validation of Local Herbal Teas for Commercial Use

The NPU team is currently involved in the evaluation of the polyphenolic composition and the potential antioxidant properties of Jamaican herbal teas such as: soursop, guinea hen weed, june plum leaf and French thyme.  Evaluations of lime leaf and search-me-heart herbal teas have already been completed and formulations with astonishing market information are now available for sale.  The team will continue its development/validation of these herbal teas from its in house list.

Preparation and Characterization of Plant Extracts for Use in Certificates of Analyses (COAs) and in Product Development

Essential oils, fixed oils, oleoresins and other solvent extracts are prepared from local plants using well known procedures such as hydrodistillation, steam distillation (lab demo model), supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), and soxhlet extraction.  The chromatographic fingerprints are then developed by way of quality control techniques such as gas chromatography (GC), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC).  Some of the plants being investigated include: ginger, sorrel, lemongrass, rosemary, turmeric, Jamaican sarsaparilla, cinnamon, Jamaican peppermint among others.  These profiles are used in the development of COAs, as well as in product development.

Body Wash and Lotion

Investigation of essential oils extracted from local plants for insecticidal, acaricidal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are being conducted.

Screening of Local Plants for Use in the Treatment of Hypertension and Diabetes.

We are actively involved in ground breaking work supported by the National Health Fund (NHF) in which local plants which have been traditionally used for the treatment of hypertension and diabetes are screened for pharmacological activity.  The results to date have been very promising.

Development of a Glycemic Index  (GI) Database of Jamaican Foods

This is a NHF – funded project in which the glycemic indices of Jamaican foods are being established for the development of low GI products for diabetic and health conscious people.  The focus of the NPU is to provide data on the anti-oxidant potential of the different foods.   The project is a collaboration between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the SRC.

Formulation of Personal Care Products

The team has been developing several lotion, body butter, shampoo and body wash formulations. These incorporate essential oils extracted in house such as ginger, lemongrass, and Jamaican peppermint among others as fragrance agents.  Several formulations are available for sale.

Development of a Natural Pesticide from Cantharidin (Spanish fly)

Cantharidin (Spanish fly) is a natural product well known for its aphrodisiac property. This compound is being screened against sweet potato weevils (Cylas formicarius) and cattle ticks (Boophilus microplus) with the aim of developing a natural pesticide.  Comparisons are being made with the commercial insecticide, Malathion.

Investigation of Anti-ageing Properties of Guinea Hen Weed (Petiveria alliacea)

Dibenzyl trisulfide (DTS) has demonstrated anti-cancer activity on a wide range of cancer cell lines e.g. breast, lung, melanoma etc.  Dibenzyl trisulfide has also demonstrated anti-cancer activity in animals.   The trisulfide was found to prevent involution of the thymus in aged mice, one of the key processes regulating ageing in animals.  The compound has also shown bone marrow activation properties.  An assessment of the herbal tea on its ability to stimulate the activity of the thymus is currently being conducted.

Evaluation of Essential Oils for Biological Activity

Investigation of essential oils extracted from local plants for insecticidal, acaricidal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are being conducted.

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