Essential oils are natural, highly concentrated organic compounds in plants that give them a strong fragrance. They are found in all parts of the plant, including roots, stems, twigs, bark, wood, leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Scientific study has found many uses for essential oils including many healthhy effects you can benefit from.
Essential oils were the original drugs used as cures for various diseases. By the 13th century they were being made by pharmacies in the East and their effects were well documented. By the 16th century they were plentiful in Europe and England. In the 17th century, pharmacies in France were stocking 15 to 20 different oils.
Essential oils are currently used most extensively in the fragrance and flavor industry. Aromatherapy is now a minor use, amounting to just a few percent of the total essential oil market.
Plants use essential oils to further their propagation by attracting pollinators and to protect their life by repelling harmful insects and warding off mold, fungi and bacteria. Each plant has a unique blend of approximately 20 to 60 compounds in its essential oil. The specific compounds and the concentrations of those compounds define the effects of the oil.
Adaptogens are plant based compounds that help you adapt to stress in your environment and reduce damage from that stress. They are found in a variety of plants. Among those found effective in animal and human trials are:
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus or Siberian ginseng)
Schisandra (Schisandra chinesis)
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
Rubus coreanus (Korean black raspberry)
Pseudosasa japonica (Arrow Bamboo)
Anoectochilus formosanus (genus of orchid)
Camellia sinensis (evergreen shrub)
Allium sativum (species of onion)
Your body’s reaction and adaptation to stress typically goes through three stages:
The alarm reaction when stress is detected
Adaptation / Resistance as the body takes measures to counter the stress
Exhaustion when the body can no longer cope adequately
Plant adaptogens can increase the ability of the body to cope with and adapt to various environmental sources of stress without experiencing exhaustion. The role of the adaptogen is to moderate the response so the coping with stress can go on for longer periods of time.
The following timeline shows typical coping scenarios. Without adaptogens the stress response is higher, using more resources, and eventually become exhausted. The response with adaptogens shows a milder response that lasts longer and can continue to cope with the stress. Continue reading →
Bacopa monnieri is traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herb grown in India. It has been widely touted as a brain booster with other positive effects such as reduction of anxiety. Often called water hyssop, it is a popular plant used in aquariums.
The herb contains many active components including alkaloids and saponins (that form a soapy froth when shaken in a water solution). Most people recognize the saponins Bacosides A and B as the most significant components.
Bacopa monnieri is marketed by many supplement manufacturers which use a variety of phrases to describe its effects. Some of these marketing slogans include:
Optimize your brain power
Supports memory enhancement & learning
Supports memory, enhances mental performance
Brain & memory support
Support cognitive function and brain health
Excellent rejuvenative for the mind
Benefits congnitive functions
These claims make it seem like you should start taking bacopa monnieri before your next algebra test or your final exams to make sure you get a high grade. After all, you want every advantage possible to succeed in life.
But, what do the scientific studies show about the benefits of bacopa monnieri? Are these marketing slogans simply hype that over-promise what you can really expect? Continue reading →