Proanthyocyanidines- Say What? How About a Drop of Oil with That?

Ever notice that your favorite essential oil may have different effects on you than your honey? I have too.

This evening, I was reading Deanna Minich’s wonderful blog on Proanthocyanidins (PAs), which are compounds found in plants. The most popular PAs are found in chocolate, berries, nuts, and legumes. (Database: USDA 2004.) In her post, Deanna was highlighting some of their benefits for cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, and modulation of sleep.

As I was reading a cited study, I came across a very interesting concept. It was evidence of why one may find more benefits from a food or compound and others may not find much, if any.

First, PAs are broken down by different enzymes in the liver and gut, and people can have genetic differences in the efficacy of these enzymes.

Second, certain bacteria break down these compounds in the belly, and everyone has their unique microbiota..

Many researchers have focused on PAs antioxidant power, but due to their low absorption their actions have been further analyzed.

It has been shown that these compounds interact with our cells and cellular signaling pathways, including at the epigenetic level! They also interact with phospholipids in our body which are important for cellular membrane structure and integrity and brain health!

That is far-reaching systemic effects from our food! (See why some say “food is medicine?”)


What Does This Have to Do with Essential Oils (EOs)

A lot!

In the past, I discussed how EOs were an overlooked source of polyphenols. Furthermore, by absorbing the molecules through the skin or inhaling them, you can get direct cellular benefits, without worrying about the gut microbe issue. (You may still have differing responses from your friends in breaking them down in the liver and kidneys- this is why we all have our “favorite oils!”)

You can read more about the many cellular and health effects of EOs here and on my database here.

 I wrote a whole series on finding which essential oils will work best for you. Here’s some of the articles.


Bladé C, Aragonè G, Arola-Arnal A, Muguerza B, Bravo FI, Salvadó MJ, Arola L, Suárez M. Proanthocyanidins in health and disease. BioFactors. 2016; 42: 5–12. doi:10.1002/biof.1249


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.

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.)