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Terpene Deficiency / Paleo Air

Are You Terpene-Deficient? Probably.

man walking in forest


Are you terpene deficient? Probably. Most of us are, which is one of the reasons why Eric Fishman, MD founded MONQ. He recognized and defined Terpene Deficiency —a cluster of findings resulting from a lack of exposure to terpenes—and decided to do something about it.

Terpenes in History


Evolution and natural selection, over huge time spans, optimize humans and other organisms for living in their natural environments. In most cases, these environments don’t change quickly or drastically, so animals become more fit to survive. However, tremendous change has occurred because of industrialization over the last few centuries. Now that so many of us live in cities, the air we breathe lacks natural compounds humans need. Increased pollution adds insult to injury.

The first humans lived in the forest or the savanna, both of which were environments overflowing with natural aromatic (fragrant) compounds. These aromatic compounds are the secondary metabolites that plants release into the surrounding air. Terpenes make up one type of secondary metabolites. You've probably read a bit about terpenes on our blog—they are central to the health benefits that MONQ Air provides. And, when they are missing, humans become terpene deficient.

Terpenes and Health


Terpenes have been found to have various positive effects on both mental and physical health, mainly revolving around mood and stress. Because animals evolved in the presence of these aromatic compounds, there is a theory that we require them for homeostasis or balance.

Homeostasis, the delicate balance that living systems strive to maintain, can be easily thrown off when there is some change in the environment. For example, humans can’t breathe properly at high elevations because the level of oxygen differs from that to which we are accustomed. We experience many changes every day that disturb our homeostasis and disrupt our well-being. One of these is not breathing in enough terpenes. When we don't breathe in enough terpenes, we become terpene deficient.

Since we don’t metabolize terpenes the way we do carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, we typically don’t think about them as frequently. We don’t seek them out, and we don’t see them listed on food ingredient labels. But it’s possible that they are critical for our health and well-being, just as other components of our diet are.

Thus, most humans exist in a chronic state of "terpene deficiency" which may be characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including more struggles with stress and mood, general unwellness, and others.

overview of trees in forest Terpenes in Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy may help us replenish our terpenes. Remember, essential oils have synergistic effects. That is what happens when different oils are combined and instead of just adding benefits, they play off each other’s effects. In forest bathing, you benefit from the terpenes and other secondary metabolites from hundreds of different plant species, so it would make sense that aromatherapeutic methods using combinations of oils have a synergistic effect.

Since there are tens of thousands of terpenes in nature, no single aromatherapy product provides you with all of them. However, with proper blending, you can be provided with a meaningful number. One researcher in France proposes that the synergistic effects of essential oils are so powerful that the combinations are more powerful than the sum of the individual oils.

Our science team designed the blends of oils in MONQ personal aromatherapy diffusers with synergy in mind. Each diffuser contains a mix of all-natural essential oils that can help you achieve various mood-based benefits.

These blends can help you breathe in the terpenes you need to experience a happier, more relaxed, and better life.

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