The health benefits of red wine are well-known—but what if you don’t drink? New research shows that six essential oils—from thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel and bergamot—can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme, in a manner similar to resveratrol, the chemical linked with the health benefits of red wine.

Massage therapists are most familiar with essential oils for their use in aromatherapy sessions.

The researchers also identified that the chemical carvacrol was primarily responsible for this suppressive activity, according to a press release from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Essential oils from plants have long been a component of home remedies, and even today are used for their aromatherapy, analgesic or antibacterial properties.

For this study, Japanese researchers decided many essential oils might target COX-2 much like compounds in wine and tea. When they analyzed thyme oil, they found that the major componen, carvacrol, was the primary active agent; in fact when they use pure carvacrol extracts in their tests, COX-2 levels decreased by more than 80 percent.

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