I’ve always been a little bit of a “doctor doom” when it comes to giving some stats on the toxic exposures we come across every day. Although my focus has been more to educate and empower with tools to protect ourselves, I know that sometimes it can still appear daunting.
Last year, I gave you tips for protecting kids’ brains and bodies from chemical harms (and germs) as they go to back to school. This month I saw more these topics on this subject of toxic effects hit my inbox including:
- Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids
- Fracking Linked to Migraines
- Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S.
However, just as in the past the gloom was followed by the good, it will again today.
What the Scary Facts Have to Do with Aromas
I’ve always recommended essential oils as one of my favorite tools to mitigate stress and balance our physiology, biochemistry, and emotions. This past week, I was in heaven with listening to the speakers in the Essential Oils Revolution 2 summit explain the science behind how essential oils can protect our bodies from sickness and modulate our health. (Speaking of too much of a good thing, I did in fact listen to every single presenter!)
We know now that inhalation and diffusion of essential oils has profound positive effects on the brain and body. In fact, a recent study in rodents demonstrated how aromatic essential oils (lavender, clary sage, sweet orange, and sandalwood) exhibited metabolic effects in their brain biochemistry and urinary metabolites. This study was further supporting evidence that their properties as secondary metabolites modulating physiology beyond aroma. For my scientific-speak followers, the authors concluded:
In conclusion, we identified the global metabolic responses to aromas intervention characterized by unique metabolic signatures in rat brain tissue and urine involving neurotransmitters, fatty acids, carbohydrates and amino acids. Inhalation of essential oil is able to attenuate anxiety-induced metabolic perturbation, concurrent with the behavioral findings that inhalation of essential oil significantly increased the open arms time and open arms entries.
I have hinted about the saving grace of diffusing essential oils in the past and specifically discussed how essential oils inhibit microbe growth in the air. I was recently working on an article for one of my favorite fitness and health gurus and found further support in how a specific oil blend I use is effective in stomping out unwanted critters floating around us (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958)
Previously, NASA demonstrated that plants have the power to protect us from indoor pollution by decreasing levels of organic chemicals. Now, a new study reports that essential oils may directly impact and alleviate lung and liver ailments caused by air pollution. The study was done in vitro using lung and liver cells exposed to airborne particulates. The authors sought to determine how essential oil components, free and encapsulated, from extracts from cloves, aniseed, fennel and ylang ylang would impact inflammatory mediators produced from the harmful exposures. They found that these compounds reduced the resultant inflammation responses of the cells. The abstract from the study reads:
Outdoor air pollution and fine particulate matter (PM) were recently classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The exposure to airborne particulate matter also contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are major public health concerns. Up to now, no work has evaluated the ability of essential oils as an alternative medicine to relieve the adverse health effects caused by airborne particulate matter. Here, we investigated for the first time the effects of four essential oil components, trans-anethole, estragole, eugenol and isoeugenol, on the reduction in inflammation induced by particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter below 2.5 μm (PM2.5), in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) and human liver carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines. Anethole is a flavor component of anise and fennel, estragole is occurring in basil, eugenol occurs in clove bud oil and isoeugenol occurs in ylang-ylang. Essential oil components were tested either as free or hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin-encapsulated forms. Control experiments showed that particulate matter (PM2.5) induced inflammation by secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. Our results show that the addition of either free or encapsulated essential oil components to particulate matter exposed cells decreased up to 96 % the cytokine IL-6 level, and by up to 87 % the cytokine IL-8 level. Overall our findings evidence for the first time that natural essential oil components counteract the inflammatory effects of particulate matter and that encapsulation in cyclodextrins preserved their properties.
It’s no surprise that constituents in oils have healing and protective properties. Just one constituent alone in an oil has been found to have profound effects and the synergism of the whole oil seems to be just as, or more, powerful. But remember to use cold air diffusion to experience all the benefits you can receive from aromatic applications. This way you will not destroy the essential oil compounds and prevent them from oxidation in the air. For example, one (kinda-sketchy, biased study) determined that lavender that was exposed to air at 60 degrees Fahrenheit could produce negative reactions in sensitive people.
So treat your oils well by preserving their therapeutic constituents with cold-air diffusion. Remember if you use them safely and intelligently, they will then treat you well.
I just published a blog on calmness and the age of information overwhelm. Read it here.
Banned PCB Chemicals Still Tied to Autism in U.S. Kids. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/prenatal-exposure to-banned-chemicals-tied-to-autism-714114.html
Unconventional natural gas wells associated with migraine, fatigue. Science Daily. August 25, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160825084623.htm
Climate Change May Prolong Smog Season in Southeast U.S. Health Day. August 23, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/air-pollution-health-news-540/climate-change-ozone-pnas-git-release-batch-2832-714103.html
Essential Oils Revolution 2 Summit. August 22- 29, 2016. Online event. http://eorevolution2.com/
Chao SC, Young G, Oberg CJ. Effect of a Diffused Essential Oil Blend on Bacterial Bioaerosols. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 1998;10:5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1998.9700958
Wu Y, Zhang Y, Xie G, et al. The Metabolic Responses to Aerial Diffusion of Essential Oils. Ye J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(9):e44830. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044830.
Wolverton BC, Douglas WL, Bounds K. A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement. July 1, 1989. https://archive.org/details/nasa_techdoc_19930072988
Kfoury M, Borgie M, Verdin A, Ledoux F, Courcot D, Auezova L, Fourmentin S. Essential oil components decrease pulmonary and hepatic cells inflammation induced by air pollution particulate matter. Environmental Chemistry Letters. 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10311-016-0572-4
Hagvall L, et al. Autooxidation of lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis. 2008; 59: 143-150