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Pharm Biol. 2013 Sep;51(9):1208-18. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2013.777462. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Herbal medicinal oils in traditional Persian medicine.

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Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.



In Iran, conventional production methods of herbal oils are widely used by local practitioners. Administration of oils is rooted in traditional knowledge with a history of more than 3000 years. Scientific evaluation of these historical documents can be valuable for finding new potential use in current medicine.


The current study (i) compiled an inventory of herbal oils used in ancient and medieval Persia and (ii) compared the preparation methods and therapeutic applications of ancient times to current findings of medicinal properties in the same plant species.


Information on oils, preparation methods and related clinical administration was obtained from ancient Persian documents and selected manuscripts describing traditional Persian medicine. Moreover, we investigated the efficacy of medicinal plant species used for herbal oils through a search of the PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar databases.


In Iran, the application of medicinal oils date back to ancient times. In medieval Persian documents, 51 medicinal oils produced from 31 plant species, along with specific preparation methods, were identified. Flowers, fruits and leaves were most often used. Herbal oils have been traditionally administered via oral, topical and nasal routes for gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and neural diseases, respectively. According to current investigations, most of the cited medicinal plant species were used for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.


Medicinal oils are currently available in Iranian medicinal plant markets and are prepared using traditional procedures for desirable clinical outcomes. Other than historical clarification, the present study provides data on clinical applications of the oils that should lead to future opportunities to investigate their potential medicinal use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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