Based on the idea that terpenes and environments rich in aromatic secondary metabolites benefit humans, it is logical to conclude that these compounds have been adapted into human evolutionary development as a part of human health. Thus, these compounds are likely directly related to keeping the body well-adjusted to its environment.
The secondary metabolites produced by plants are products of their evolutionary process, and humans evolving alongside these compounds grew accustomed to the effects of these compounds on the human body.
Additionally, when looking at many of the prominent health issues affecting modern society, it is reasonable to conclude that a deficiency in terpenes can contribute to greater tendency for homeostatic disruptions, which consequently result in many modern health issues.
Though the extent is still unknown, it is reasonable to assume that humans lack a component for successfully adapting to elements of life in cities. After all, the sudden absence of a cornerstone of mental and physical health can be expected to have side effects, some of which are outlined below.
Increased Risk for Mental Health Issues
Stress causes the body to enter a mode characterized by physiological changes and cortisol release. This was effective for the occasional fight or flight response when humans were threatened by predators and assailants. However, this response is misappropriated in modern society where it can occur at any point during a stressful day and can become chronic.
Reduced Immune System Function
When stress levels are high, the immune systems can’t function optimally, leaving the body vulnerable to infections and diseases. The terpenes and VOCs in forest air and aromatherapy treatments have properties that fight disease and infections. In fact, terpenes are one of the most abundant sources of antioxidants.
By the same logic, air that is lacking in these organic compounds will not provide these benefits to the immune system.
Increased Potential for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The specific causes for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) remain a mystery, yet the symptoms are well-documented. SAD is characterized by depressive-like symptoms that recur each year during fall and winter. Additionally, the body’s balance of melatonin and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleeping patterns, are disrupted.
One widely-accepted hypothesis for explaining SAD is that the greater distance from the sun and reduced hours of sunlight affects the body’s circadian rhythm, making individuals moody and sleepy.
However, there is an additional explanation for SAD. During the winter, the sun provides less energy for plants and trees, which remain dormant until spring. During this time, the parts of the world that are in winter, and especially places further North, endure a widespread “terpene deficiency” until spring.
In the 21st Century, the Majority of People Live in Urban Environments.
Urbanization is a wonderful thing. Studies have shown that there is a higher percentage of Nobel prize winners in urban environments, and among the theories is that the random interaction between people of very different educational levels, backgrounds and interests mingle with each other and this leads to ‘out of the box’ thinking.
However, there are issues with city living. One rather clearly demonstrable fact is that there is a higher level of stress in city dwellers. A number of theories have been put forth for this documented increase in symptomatology, including crowding, errant neural circuits, and sensory overload.
We believe that a previously unrecognized risk factor is critically important, and that is Terpene Deficiency Syndrome! In this paper, we propose a variety of solutions.
In 1982 the Japanese Forest Service first described Forest Bathing. Japanese physicians now routinely prescribe to their patients that they lower their stress by visiting a forest. They take in the sights, listen to the sounds, and in our opinion, most importantly breathe the aromatic compounds, the fragrances, that are released by the vegetation. As they are breathing, they are breathing in Paleo Air® just like the air our ancestors breathed!
So, what are these secondary metabolites, these aromatic compounds? We believe that the most important characteristic of the Forest Bathing experience is breathing in the wide variety of terpenes that are in the forest. There is clear evidence that visiting a forest lowers pulse rate, and reduces stress. Similarly, there is equally clear evidence that breathing in terpenes in a laboratory leads to lower stress levels!
Urban Stress / City Stress
We believe that a material contributor to the significant increase in psychological stress noted in urban environments is due to the lack of terpenes which are found naturally in rural environments. Just as the Paleo Diet is intuitively appropriate to maintain consistency with our natural history, so the Paleo Respiratory Diet, in which we breathe the same aromatic compounds we’ve breathed for millions of years, is intuitively appropriate. We call this Paleo Air®.
To put it simply, we believe that the absence of terpenes or Terpene Deficiency is a material component of Urban Stress or City Stress and that replacing the terpenes, such as by forest bathing or using MONQ Personal Diffusers, can help lower stress levels in urban populations.
Not only is this intuitively obvious, but the thousands of customers who have stated that using Zen MONQ essential oil diffuser has dramatically lowered their stress levels make it clear that simply taking a few fragrant breaths, a few times a day, in what we call Terpene Therapy, can be of tremendous assistance in reducing your stress!
The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above. Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers.