Extraction and Analysis of Essential Oil from Cypress Species (Cupressus lusitanica and Taxodium distichum) in Selected Areas in Kenya

An essential oil is a natural, volatile oil, which is hydrophobic, and has the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is extracted. The word “essential” in this case refers to the fact that the oil contains the essence of the plant’s fragrance. Cypress essential oil is of interest due to the medicinal properties; attributed to its properties as an: astringent, antiseptic, antispasmodic, deodorant, diuretic, hemostatic, hepatic, styptic, sudorific, vasoconstrictor and respiratory tonic. Chemicals within the oils responsible for medicinal properties are: α-pinene,α-terpinine, β-pinene, bornyl acetate, cedrol, carene, cadinene, camphene, linalool, myrcene, sabinene and terpinolene. The demand for essential oils is high and this is attributed to its health benefits and fragrant uses especially in the cosmetic industry. However, the main problem faced in extraction of these oils is the minimum yields produced (0.05-3%). In this study, the sole purpose was to extract the cypress oil and analyze it. The extraction method used was steam distillation using the Clevenger apparatus, used for the estimation of essential oil content and preliminary evaluation of the oil quality. Moreover, the yields of the oils of both species were determined and a comparison was made. The oil yield was higher from the leaves and bark of Taxodium distichum 0.22% and 0.031%, respectively, as compared to Cupressus lusitanica 0.14% and 0.02%, respectively, at the optimum extraction time of 360 minutes. The oil was yellow from the leaves with a spicy fragrance while that from the bark was brown with a woody scent. These findings were similar for both species. Analysis of the oils was done using GC-MS in order to determine the chemical compounds of the oil. 46 compounds were identified. The results of this study showed that Totarol (2-phenanthrenol,4b,5,6,7,8,8a,9,10-octahydro-4b,8,8-trimethyl-1-(1-methylethyl)-(4bS-trans) was the only compound present in the leaves and bark of both species. Research has found Totarol to have antimicrobial and therapeutic properties. Also, the following compounds were only present in the leaves of both species: α-terpinyl acetate, α-gurjunene, α-cadinol, β-cubebene, β-caryophyllene and sclareol. Androstan-17-one-3-ethyl-3-hydroxy was present in the bark only.

Keywords: Cupressus lusitanica, Taxodium distichum, Essential oil, Totarol.  

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