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Perillyl alcohol


Related terms

Related Terms
  • l-perillyl alcohol, monoterpene, monoterpene perillyl alcohol, perilla, perillic acid, PO

  • Perillyl alcohol is isolated from the essential oils of several plants including cherries, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, celery seeds, sage, cranberries, lemongrass, ginger grass, savin juniper, Conyza newii, caraway, Perilla frutescens, and wild bergamont.
  • Animal studies suggest that perillyl alcohol may help slow growth of pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors. It may also help colon, lung, and skin cancer. Perillyl alcohol is under sponsorship from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is undergoing phase II clinical trials.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *
Perillyl alcohol is used to treat cancer. However, high quality scientific studies are lacking. Further information is required before recommendations can be made.
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Antimicrobial, cardiovascular disease, chemotherapy support, glioblastoma, hypercholesterolemia, infection (protozoan), weight loss.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • Not enough scientific evidence to recommend.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • Not enough scientific evidence to recommend.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with an allergy or hypersensitivity to perillyl alcohol. Allergic skin reaction to perillyl alcohol has been documented.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • The main side effects associated with perillyl alcohol in patients with various types of tumors include gastrointestinal (reflux, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) and fatigue. Other gastrointestinal symptoms included loss of appetite, belching, abdominal bloating, constipation, and abdominal cramps.
  • High blood pressure, hot flashes, unpleasant taste, satiety, mucositis, elevated liver enzymes, and headaches have been reported.
  • Avoid use in the absence of medical supervision.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Perillyl alcohol is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Perillyl alchohol may interact with chemotherapies, cholesterol-lowering drugs, phenothiazines, and other drugs use to control nausea and vomiting. Imatinib mesylate (GleevecT; STI571) may also interact with perillyl alchohol.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Herbs containing perillyl alcohol, including lavender, peppermint, spearmint, celery seeds, sage, lemongrass, ginger grass, savin juniper, Conyza newii, caraway, Perilla frutescens, and wild bergamont, may have additive effects.
  • Perillyl alchohol may also interact with herbs and supplements used to control nausea and vomiting or that lower cholesterol; use cautiously.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

  1. Azzoli CG, Miller VA, Ng KK, et al. A phase I trial of perillyl alcohol in patients with advanced solid tumors. Cancer Chemother.Pharmacol. 2003;51(6):493-498.
  2. Bailey HH, Wilding G, Tutsch KD, et al. A phase I trial of perillyl alcohol administered four times daily for 14 days out of 28 days. Cancer Chemother.Pharmacol. 2004;54(4):368-376.
  3. Berchtold CM, Chen KS, Miyamoto S, Gould MN. Perillyl alcohol inhibits a calcium-dependent constitutive nuclear factor-kappaB pathway. Cancer Res 9-15-2005;65(18):8558-8566.
  4. Chan NL, Wang H, Wang Y, et al. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-induced CYP1B1 activity is suppressed by perillyl alcohol in MCF-7 cells. Toxicol.Appl.Pharmacol. 11-21-2005.
  5. Chen Y, Hu D. Effects of POH in combination with STI571 on the proliferation and apoptosis of K562 cells. J Huazhong.Univ Sci Technolog.Med Sci 2004;24(1):41-44.
  6. Chung BH, Lee HY, Lee JS, Young CY. Perillyl alcohol inhibits the expression and function of the androgen receptor in human prostate cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 7-16-2005.
  7. Clark SS. Perillyl alcohol induces c-Myc-dependent apoptosis in Bcr/Abl-transformed leukemia cells. Oncology 2006;70(1):13-18.
  8. da Fonseca CO, Landeiro JA, Clark SS, et al. Recent advances in the molecular genetics of malignant gliomas disclose targets for antitumor agent perillyl alcohol. Surg Neurol 2006;65 Suppl 1:S1.
  9. Fernandes J, da Fonseca CO, Teixeira A, Gattass CR. Perillyl alcohol induces apoptosis in human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Oncol.Rep. 2005;13(5):943-947.
  10. Morgan-Meadows S, Dubey S, Gould M, et al. Phase I trial of perillyl alcohol administered four times daily continuously. Cancer Chemother.Pharmacol. 2003;52(5):361-366.
  11. Omolo MO, Okinyo D, Ndiege IO, et al. Fumigant toxicity of the essential oils of some African plants against Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(3):241-246.
  12. Samaila D, Toy BJ, Wang RC, Elegbede JA. Monoterpenes enhanced the sensitivity of head and neck cancer cells to radiation treatment in vitro. Anticancer Res 2004;24(5A):3089-3095.
  13. Stearns V, Coop A, Singh B, et al. A pilot surrogate end point biomarker trial of perillyl alcohol in breast neoplasia. Clin Cancer Res 11-15-2004;10(22):7583-7591.
  14. Xu M, Floyd HS, Greth SM, et al. Perillyl alcohol-mediated inhibition of lung cancer cell line proliferation: potential mechanisms for its chemotherapeutic effects. Toxicol.Appl.Pharmacol. 3-1-2004;195(2):232-246.
  15. Yuri T, Danbara N, Tsujita-Kyutoku M, et al. Perillyl alcohol inhibits human breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004;84(3):251-260.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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