The term “Paleolithic” refers to the period of time that began two million years ago and ran until about 12,000 BCE. It includes nearly 95 percent of human development from the very beginning up until the time that Homo sapiens came about.
Part of the significance of this era is that, during this time, humans survived as hunter-gatherers, rather than through farming and raising animals for food. This marked the last period of time where this practice dominated before the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution.
After the start of the Agricultural Revolution, our diets changed. As hunter-gatherers, humans ate a variety of foods that they found as they traveled about the forests and plains. This included nuts, fruits, vegetables, tubers, and small game.
However, once the agricultural revolution began, man began to plant corn, wheat, and rice, in addition to other grains which became staples in their diet. In many cultures, these became staple-foods consumed several times a day, year-round.1
When you look at our diets now, you’ll often notice that we do tend to eat very much the same things every day. For example, a bowl of wheat cereal in the morning, a sandwich with wheat bread for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner—completing a wheat trifecta for the day. The same is true for corn and rice.
The Paleo Diet movement is a push to consume the foods that our Paleolithic ancestors ate, increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and protein, and decreasing consumption of processed foods, sugar, and grains.2
The premise of “Paleo Air” is similar to that of the Paleo Diet: in the modern age, the air that we breathe has become dominated by pollutants released by the machines we’ve built. Everywhere you look you’ll see cars, chimneys, factories, and cattle emitting toxic gases and chemicals.
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Paleolithic humans, on the other hand, breathed fresh air filled with the scents and beneficial chemical compounds released by plants. The most important of these compounds are the secondary metabolites, even more specifically, terpenes.
While secondary metabolites are not directly involved in the growth or development of the plant, they serve important functions like protection, competition, and species interactions. Terpenes, on the other hand, are a large group of hydrocarbons that provide plants with their scents and their health benefits.
When you breathe Paleo Air—the air of our ancestors—you’re breathing in the air that’s rich in secondary metabolites, allowing you to reap their health benefits.
When you walk deep into the forest, you can get an idea of the variety of smells that nature provides. This has a calming effect on us, as do babbling brooks, waterfalls, and ocean waves. What if all of those, combined together, are what we’re missing in today’s toxic, polluted, environmentally unfriendly world?
While we aren’t able to control the quality of the air outside our homes, it is possible to breathe in clean, metabolite-rich air inside our homes by breathing essential oils or by venturing out into the forest for a few hours or a weekend trip.
Can Paleo Air Make You Smarter?
Our brain composes only about two percent of our entire body weight, and yet it consumes as much as 30 percent of the body’s available energy. A unique trait of the brain, however, is that it can’t really store energy. This means that it constantly has to be fed energy in order to function at maximum capacity. If the brain receives too little oxygen or too few sources of energy, it will be unable to function at its maximum capacity.3
Individuals take many steps in order to improve their intelligence—to maximize the capacity of brain function. Some people practice brain exercises, while others try to exercise more frequently. However, Paleo Air may be one of the simplest ways to improve your ability to learn.
Oftentimes, people underestimate the impact of air quality on our brains. However, exposure to air pollution has been shown to have a negative impact on brain development. Studies have shown that breathing low-quality air can have a long-term detrimental effect on IQ, especially in teens and young adults.4
Thankfully, many of these negative effects can be counteracted by improving the air quality in your home or spending more time in nature. Many studies have evaluated a variety of methods for improving indoor air quality. Research has shown that air purifiers, air filters, and room diffusers with essential oils can significantly improve indoor air quality.5
So, studies have indicated that Paleo Air can prevent or counteract the negative effects of low quality-air, but can it make you smarter? According to researchers, the secondary metabolites that plants provide—the metabolites found in Paleo Air—can boost attention span and improve the ability to learn.6
Exposure to plants and secondary metabolites can also have psychological benefits. Plants have been linked to positive emotional states, creativity, and reduced stress.7 Thus, studies have shown that Paleo Air won’t turn a person into a genius overnight, but it can improve their capacity to learn while minimizing the psychological effects of life stressors that could otherwise inhibit learning.
Additional Benefits of Paleo Air
Paleo air offers benefits beyond the brain. Air quality improvements have been linked to a range of other health benefits. For example, individuals that breathe in clean air are less prone to health problems and respiratory illnesses.8
Aromatherapy has also been shown to provide relief for a number of minor health problems. If you’re feeling sick to your stomach, diluting the necessary essential oil with a carrier oil and massaging into onto the abdominal area can calm it down. If you have a terrible headache, taking a bath with a few drops of essential oils or using a room diffuser can provide relief.
Aromatic use of essential oils can also promote sleep and improve overall sleep quality. During sleep, the brain processes and retains information, meaning a lack of sleep can make the process of learning new information much more difficult. Paleo air can help you sleep restfully so that your brain is primed to learn.11
Furthermore, some individuals have problems with “brain fog.” This term is used to describe a cloudy mind. If you’ve ever struggled to think clearly, you know exactly what brain fog is like. Breathing in the terpenes (secondary metabolites) found in essential oils can clear away the fog and allow you to think more clearly.
How To Breathe Paleo Air
There are two primary ways to breathe Paleo Air rich in secondary metabolites, such as terpenes: going out in nature or using essential oils. If you have the chance, traveling to a nearby forest preserve or even taking a walk in a local park is a great way to breathe in these beneficial plants compounds straight from nature, which also provides the added benefits of the relaxation that comes with simply looking at nature.
However, it’s understandable that with a busy, hectic schedule, finding the time to travel to a forest may prove difficult. Here, essential oils are an easy and effective answer. Essential oils are rich in terpenes, some of the primary-secondary metabolites in plants which provide essential oils with both their scents and health benefits. Additionally, essential oils are wide-ranging in both their variety and uses: there’s really something for everyone.
Try using some of these essential oils topically when diluted with a carrier oil like coconut, almond, or jojoba oil, or aromatically in a bath, in a room diffuser, or in a portable aromatherapy diffuser like Zen, Happy, Healthy, Vibrant, or Active MONQ.
Of course, there’s no magic pill or essential oil blend that can teach you everything you want to know and turn you into a smarter individual overnight. If you want to retain information more effectively and perform better academically, you’re going to have to put in a lot of effort. That said, Paleo Air can make your efforts more successful. When you’re breathing in clean, enriched air, you’ll be more focused, less stressed, more productive, and perfectly primed to learn.