Enzyme Extraction of Essential Oils

Enzyme Extraction of Essential Oils

Essential oils are chemicals that form the odoriferous essences of a number of plants. They are derived from parts of a plant, which can be the flowers, fruits, leaves , roots, or bark. Essential oils have been used since history. In ancient Assyria, Babylonia, Israel and other civilizations, essential oils were possessions. They were used as perfumes, added to cosmetics or mixed with other ingredients to create conditions for religious offerings, anointing kings or embalming the dead.

Today, essential oils are enjoyed and used more extensively than ever. Modern cosmetic and perfume industries depend on essential oils. Food manufacturers need essential oils to impart flavor and delicate aroma to beverages such as coffee, tea, juice , sodas, wines , liquors, canned sauces and soups, bottled condiments, confectioneries and other food products. Due to these applications, there is a huge demand for essential oils worldwide.

However, there is not enough supply to meet domestic and industry needs. In our country, most of the essential oils available in the market are imported and they command staggering prices. A 15 ml bottle of essential oil costs an average of 100-165 pesos.

The National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) in UP Los Banos, Laguna addressed these problems by developing an extraction method for essential oil that is more efficient than teh conventional procedures like steam distillation. Through this method, BIOTECH hopes to develop local production of essential oils and help the country save and earn dollars. The method uses an enzyme called pectinase to extract the essential oil from a plant material. This is more efficient since it can derive 1-3% yield, double than extracted using other methods, depending on the plant material. This technology was created through the leadership of Dr. Teresita M. Espino.

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