Terpenes in History
Evolution and natural selection, over huge time spans, optimize humans and other animals for living in their natural environments. In most cases, these environments don’t change quickly or drastically, so the animals become more fit to survive. However, the last few hundred years have shown tremendous change due to industrialization. Now that so many of us live in cities, the air we breathe lacks natural compounds, and 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. One type of secondary metabolite are terpenes, and you have probably read about these on our blog before because they are central to the health benefits that MONQ Therapeutic Air® provides.
Terpenes and Health
Terpenes have been found to have various positive effects on both mental and physical health, mainly revolving around mood and stress. One theory is that since animals evolved in the presence of these aromatic compounds, we require them for homeostasis.
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 what they are used to. We experience many changes every day that disturb our homeostasis and disrupt our well-being. One of these is not breathing in enough terpenes (or breathing in too many, which is why we recommend using MONQ® diffusers only 2-3 times per day).
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Since we don’t metabolize terpenes the way we do carbohydrates, fats and proteins, we 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 the other components of our diet are. One could say that we are in a chronic state of “Terpene Deficiency”.
Terpenes in Aromatherapy
For use in aromatherapy, it is important to keep in mind that essential oils have synergistic effects. That is when different oils are combined 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 use combinations of oils.
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. You can experience some of these by using MONQ’s Forest essential oil diffuser.
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. To explore our different blends, click here.