The new science of epigenetics is throwing a spotlight on the role environment plays in health and disease.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is the study of changes in genetic expression that do not involve changes to your DNA. The genes that you carry in your personal genome are always present, but not all of them are expressed.
Think of how two parents with brown eyes can have a child with green eyes. For this to happen, one or both parents had to have genes for green eyes, but those genes were never expressed. Instead, the brown genes were and that caused their eyes to take on that color. In passing on their DNA to their child, they could have given them both genes for brown and green eyes, but only the genes for green are expressed.
Epigenetic change is a natural occurrence that can be influenced by factors like age, environment, lifestyle, and state of one’s health or disease. In other words, just because you have a particular gene for a disease doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to become sick. The gene may be present in your DNA, but it will not cause the disease until something turns on the gene expression. Epigenetic research shows us that environment has the power to do this.
There are numerous examples of epigenetic change that show how different lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can alter the epigenetic marks on top of DNA and play a determining role in your health outcomes. For instance, research has shown that a mother’s exposure to pollution can impact her unborn child’s susceptibility to asthma. Epigeneticists have also classified diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease as being acquired and most likely are influenced by environmental factors.
So, what is it in our personal environments that may be causing all of these illnesses and negative physical effects?
Researchers are now more focused on studying the environment to discover more about its influence on modifying genes and increasing susceptibility to disease. Through the fast-growing field of epigenetic research, we now understand that both our environment and individual lifestyle can directly interact with our genome to influence epigenetic change.
While this research is conducted, we can look to more obvious causes that surround us every moment of our lives.
For example, we know that our bodies are continuously exposed to chemicals as a result of modern living. The toxic load to our systems is greater now than at any other time in history. According to EcoWatch, we are exposed to more than 80,000 chemicals, of which only 1% have been tested. Personal care products, used daily by men and women, contain an average of more than 168 different chemicals. It’s estimated from biopsies that the average human has 20,000 to 30,000 different chemicals stored in their systems.
Many medical experts are pointing to an excessively toxic environment as the greatest contributor to the escalation of disease epidemics.
We are exposed to mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and carbon-based chemicals, i.e. insecticides, pesticides, solvents, petrochemicals, wood preservatives and phthalates (plastic softeners).
Our bodies are designed to handle and eliminate endogenous toxins, which are a natural by-product of metabolic waste. But, they are not designed to handle the excessive amounts of foreign, man-made toxins we are now being exposed to.
A catch-22 situation develops, as exposure to harmful chemical and environmental toxins can disrupt the very organs in our body that are designed to deal with the clearing and cleansing of toxins from our body's ecological system. Overtime, our body's detoxification systems get overloaded and can shut down from toxic overload.
A cascade of events is then triggered in our human biological system. The biggest damage is to our immune and neurological functions. The delicate balance in your autonomic nervous system (ANS) - between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest, relax, digest, recover) nervous systems - is thrown off. When this happens chronic stress results and your body's systems no longer function optimally and harmoniously with one another. As your body's natural rhythms are thrown out of wack you begin to experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance, anxiety, depression, sleep disruption, mood disorders and more.
How Essential Oils Can Help
Numerous studies have been conducted showing essential oils effectiveness as antimicrobial and sanitizing agents that can rid the body of contaminants. Studies have also shown essential oils to have a balancing and regulating effect on the autonomic nervous system.
Best EOs to Bring Balance & Healing
Pure Essential Oils may be one of the best natural therapies for ridding your body of chemical toxins and heavy metals. While essential oils don’t have the molecular structure necessary to chelate heavy metals, they can stimulate the necessary detoxification processes that encourage your body to detox heavy metals.
Research on the Biological Effects of Mediterranean EOs on Human Health, showed numerous Pharmacological Effects for Lemon, Oregano, Marjoram, Peppermint and Thyme, including potent antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
Studies also show Essential Oils to Exhibit Protective Effects as Natural Antioxidants agents against Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity). Your liver is one of your primary organs for the removal of toxins from your body. It also processes nutrients from your food and builds proteins for proper nourishment.
Glutathione plays a key role in the liver's ability to detoxify the body. Glutathione is an antioxidant that binds to heavy metals. Studies have shown Glutathione is THE core component for your body’s natural defense against heavy metal toxicity.
D-limonene (found in many essential oils, but especially high in citrus oils) stimulates the production of glutathione.
D-limonene was shown to modulate inflammation, oxidative stress and even restore Glutathione levels.
D-limonene Concentrations in Citrus EOs
- Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) - 85-99.5% limonene
- Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) - 85-98.6% limonene
- Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) - 85-96% limonene
- Red Mandarin (Citrus deliciosa) 65-75% limonene
- Lemon (Citrus limon) - 59-79.4% limonene
- Bergamot (Citrus bergamot) - 25.62-53.19%
Another study on ‘Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus Essential Oils’ showed them to have anxiolytic (stress relieving) effects.
Bergamot’s action was shown to be similar to diazepam (a drug used to treat anxiety disorders). A pilot study performed in the waiting room of a mental health center showed that, "Inhalation of bergamot EO for 15 minutes improves positive feelings." The study also reported that Bergamot EO showed good free radical scavenging activity.
Detox Balance Blend
To a 5ml (100 drops) euro-dropper bottle add:
Bergamot - 20 drops
Red Mandarin - 20 drops
Sweet Orange - 20 drops
Tangerine - 20 drops
Grapefruit - 10
Lemon - 10
Cap bottle tightly and shake vigorously to blend oils together. Allow oils to synergize for 12 hours, or longer before using.
READ First Article in Series, Home Health Environmental & Mask Essential Oil Recipe.
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