Walk through a stand of pine trees, or past a sweet olive tree, and chances are you’ll notice an aroma lingering in the air. What exactly is this scent your nose is detecting? Plants have complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds (VOC), also known as essential oils, which have a distinctive scent associated with them. These oils have been shown to play an important part in plant defense as well as interactions between plants and animals. Humans also have greatly benefited from essential oils, which are commonly used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industry.
Have you ever read the ingredient label on some of these household cleaning products? It’s scary! Or how about the ingredients in air fresheners? EEKS! What about medications taken orally for toe nail fungus? Can you believe a liver enzyme check-up is required while on some of these antifungals because of their potential harmful side-effects? NO THANKS! It makes one think we could do better!
As we become plagued with health issues and chronic disease, more and more people are turning to alternative therapies for healing. It is only natural to return to a time before the pharmaceutical and chemical world to seek answers. Well, the essential oils you have smelled when walking through a lavender flower garden, or plucking a ripe grapefruit off the tree, provide some of the answers for which you’ve been searching.
Take a lemon peel for example — now tear it. Notice the oil being released and the citrus smell filling the air? What you are seeing and smelling is the essential oil of the lemon. To get more specific, the main constituent of this oil is a terpene called D-limonene, which is found in all citrus. D-Limonene has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones and help heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). D-Limonene also has a well-established chemopreventive activity against many types of cancer.
As we move forward in life, let’s look back; back to our ancestry, to a time when the essential oils of the plant were the only products available for use. For me, I would rather clean my house with a mixture of water, vinegar and tea tree oil than with a chemical product containing ingredients I can’t pronounce and are possible carcinogens.
Certified Health Coach
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