Listen to this blog in about 8-minutes below.
A Review of What We’ve “Planted” in Our Brains So Far…
For the past few weeks, I’ve been delving into the three factors to ponder when choosing an essential oil to support emotional and/or whole-body wellness. The goal of this series is to emphasis that considering your particular body’s unique biochemistry, needs, and health state are just as imperative as research findings. What started out as a simple list turned into an all-out-geek-out fest.
To review, these three important aspects to consider when deciding which “oil for (fill in the blank)?” includes:
- The complexity and multifactorial action of essential oils- (i.e., the simultaneous effect of the biochemistry of the constituents and the aromatic influence on mood and memory)
- Essential oils individualized effects and epigenetic actions- (i.e., how lifestyle and our unique biological differences alter the actions of essential oils within our bodies)
- The concept of synergy- the present focus
After I gave an overview in my oily tip, I promised to be back to explain in more detail. So far, I’ve covered the first two aspects in an almost overwhelming amount of technicality. For this reason, let’s review some of the basic “essence” of what was covered. Then, I’ll dig into the nitty-gritty of the third and final factor.
In the first article, I discussed that the healing properties of essential oils go well beyond their fragrance. Their actions are multifactorial, complex, and comprehensive. This makes them a powerful healing tool for mind-body support. The secondary metabolites harmonize our physiology and balance our biochemistry at the cellular and organ level. At the same time, the odorant molecules present in essential oils effect our psychology and ignite our memory. In other words, with one sniff of your favorite oil, you simultaneously can balance your emotions while supporting the body’s biological responses. These shifts in our mood and biology are interconnected to how we respond to events and ultimately how we show up for our relationships. This can cause ripple effects for better quality social connections which have a profound impact on health.
Next, I discussed how essential oils can impact how our genes express themselves. This is accomplished by an interaction of their multifactorial actions on different pathways in the body and a person’s unique biochemical blueprint. I also dived into how individual effects may vary based on lifestyle factors that influence health, medication usage, and if one has a more “sensitive” disposition. These points are important to consider for safety and proper usage when implementing essential oils into one’s wellness regime.
In this weekend’s oily tip video, I further flushed out all the key points and explained the biochemistry in a more understandable way so that you can take these concepts and use them.
Now, it’s time to move onto one of my favorite properties of plants and essential oils. This is the concept of synergy!
Three Reasons Why You Should NEVER Base Your Decisions on Which Essential Oils to Use Solely on Any Expert, a Well-Meaning Blog, or Any Research Study
Reason Three: Synergy
What is Synergy?
The School for Aromatic Studies provides a wonderful definition of synergy:
Many herbalists acknowledge that one of the main differences between whole herbs and traditional extracts on the one hand, versus individual vitamins, minerals, isolated phytochemicals, or conventional single – molecule drugs on the other hand, is the principle of synergy.
Synergy can be defined in a number of ways, but the underlying idea is that complex interactions among the many constituents of an herb give rise to its unique characteristics, personality, and healing properties. To borrow a concept from physics, the very complexity of a living plant – which contains perhaps thousands of interacting chemicals – gives rise to emergent behavior: activities and effects which could not have been predicted from what is known about the individual components of the system. In other words, the whole herb is far more than the sum of its constituents.
– Lisa Ganora ‘Herbal Constituents’
The Whole Plant is Far More (and WAY Cooler) Than the Sum of Its Parts
1. Essential Oils’ Actions Are Not Equal to Their Isolates
If you’ve been following my blogs, this concept probably sounds familiar. In my ongoing defense of essential oils for hormonal harmony, I have been acquitting several false claims regarding that one constituent can account for the action of the whole essential oil. I have presented evidence that acquitted the whole community of compounds found in essential oils from being blamed for the action of one of its isolates.
The defaming headlines of the horror of essential oils are really a case of guilt by association, or proximity, of one or a few of its many molecules. These extrapolations do not account for the full multifactorial mechanisms of essential oils. I reviewed several of the reasons for this when disputing claims of an essential oil’s safety or toxicity. These included:
(1) Most studies base their conclusions on one or two of isolates of essential oils that were forcefully separated from it and placed into confined petri dish spaces. This is not even close to the environment an intact and quality essential oil is in with human applications.
(2) Research on safety often confuses toxicity with overdosages and falsely extrapolates that human metabolisms are similar to rodents.
(3) Studies on safety are not accounting for the mode of delivery. For example, gastric gavage or IV is often used for testing (source, source, source, source) and used to predict the oils’ effects in humans.
If you really want to get sick to your stomach, read this article review on how this practice of gavage can create complications for the tested animals which biases the tested compound’s toxicity “results.” My latest client’s case report, sage oil, will be published soon on Natural Path, and also reflects these three biases. The next in line is Mrs. Geranium Oil.
2. Essential Oils Can Enhance Base Products and Synergize in Blends
In the article, “Synergism in Essential Oils and Aromatherapy,” the authors explain that the complex actions of the many compounds within essential oils doesn’t end with the oil itself. Essential oils can also act synergistically with a carrier or base product.
In one preliminary clinical investigation of 84 subjects, a species of basil essential oil in combination with aloe vera produced better anti-acne action than either alone. Furthermore, the combination with undiluted or 50% aloe gel resolved lesions faster than a standard antibiotic. (source)
Single essential oils can also be combined to enhance greater beneficial effects than when used alone. There is an art and scientific knowledge of aromatherapy that is needed to create these therapeutic mixtures. The decision of which single essential oils to blend together are based on either their complementary chemical compounds or their therapeutic properties. (source) It can get quite complicated, for this reason, being a clinician, I rely on pre-blended essential oils from trusted suppliers.
In a follow up blog, I will continue with the concept of synergism and essential oils, as there are still a few more points to get through. Then, I will get back to my hormonal harmony series in the future.
For now, it’s time to move onto an application- the experience of using essential oils and their blends for a healthier and happier summer.
Click here to read about this some of my favorite essential oil blends and other single oils to start the months of sunshine ahead on a positive note.
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This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and StockFree Images!