Lately, I’ve been pondering the future of aromatherapy, humanity and the planet. Each is inextricably linked to the other. When, Shanti Dechen, a fellow Director of the National Association of Aromatherapy (NAHA) from Colorado, asked me to contribute my thoughts on the topic for an article she was writing this article was born.
A 2017 report of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission reported that nature-based solutions to environmental problems is a growing $12 trillion market.
- Essential oils have dominated the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Global Market since 2016, and this trend is projected to continue through 2025.
There’s an incredibly fast growing interest in the use of medicinal and aromatic plants worldwide. I was astonished to discover that there have been 286 published studies about Rosemary alone, and its pharmacological activities, since 1990. A vast rediscovery of the beneficial effects of medicinal plants is now fueling the development of new mainstream pharmaceutical drugs.
Sustainability & Extinction of Species
Traditional medical research is now networked, so that large systemic reviews can be done to find research that has been done over many years duration. PubMed Central (PMC) is the free archive of all the biomedical and life sciences research. It is housed at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine. PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical research.
According to PubMed current research indicates about 200,000 botanical plants have been identified of interest to study for possible development of botanically based medicine. Shockingly, it’s estimated that 60,000 of these plant species will become extinct by 2050. So, there’s great urgency to proceed quickly with research.
In light of the fast extinction of species on the planet earth, the role of botanical gardens in scientific research and conservation is being widely discussed. Botanical gardens may be a way to avert possible loss of plant species for use in medical research and development.
We’ve now reached what is being called ‘the Anthropocine age,’ the geological period during which human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
Experts agree, the toxic environment we live in today is the leading cause of many diseases. The question then arises, if we humans created the toxic environment that’s killing us and resulting in the mass die-off of earth’s species, can we reverse this trend?
Exploring Possible Solutions
Here are a few possible solutions being researched for development using botanical plant medicine, i.e. essential oils that may help stem the tide of species extinction.
Medical Research & Development
Incidents of antibiotic resistant infections continue to be alarmingly high and on the rise. This growing concern for the spread of uncontrolled infection in hospitals and throughout our communities has fueled research on essential oils for combatting bacterial antibiotic resistance.
A 2014 study concluded that the use of essential oils as a potential replacement therapy represents ‘a new era of phytopharmaceuticals.’ Adding, “Perhaps, in the future, essential oils can progress from being one of the traditional curative agents to become a widely used therapy in the modern medical domain.”
Antioxidants are known to help short circuit free radical damage which causes damage to living cells and tissues. Essential oils have been research extensively for their antioxidant capacity and have an established reputation for their antioxidant properties. Here’s just one study on the antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of Citrus aurantium showing promising results for its bio-preservative (antioxidant) properties.
Antimicrobials are broad spectrum in their application and prevent and halt the spread of infection of virus, bacteria and fungi.
Anti-inflammatory agents prevent and halt chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is cited as the cause of most degenerative diseases and a major threat to the health and longevity of humans.
Here’s just one study on Rosmarinus officials identifying its antimicrobial, cytotoxic (destroy cancer cells) and anti-inflammatory properties.
Analgesic Research - Can Essential Oils Replace Deadly Opioids?
Scientists are searching for non-habit forming pain relievers. Addiction to opioids, a type of narcotic pain medication, has become a major health concern in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the total "economic burden" of prescription opioid misuse at $78.5 billion a year. Everyday 130 people die after overdosing on opioids.
The obesity epidemic continues to grow in the U.S. In 2015-2016 the prevalence of obesity affected about 93.3 million of US adults. The latest data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) shows 39.6% of adults and 18.5 percent of children ages 2 to 19 in the U.S. are obese. The report noted that “these are the highest rates ever documented.”
Research on essential oils for the development of weight loss medications for the treatment of obesity is being conducted. The chemical components limonene and citral (found in many citrus oils) have been isolated and are being used in weight loss medications.
Farming Herbicidal Research
Essential oils are being studied for their use as natural herbicides. For instance, a study on ginger and turmeric essential oils shows them effective for weed control and food crop protection.
Pest Control Insecticidal Research
Insect pollinators like bees and butterflies are responsible for one-third of the food in grocery stores. Birds and other species of wildlife depend on insects for food. According to the U.N. Environment, more than 40 per cent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. At the current rate mass extinction could result within a few decades. The result on the earth’s ecosystems would be catastrophic.
Different species of essential oils are being studied for their insecticidal properties. Essential oils are seen as an alternative for the replacement of conventional insecticides that have provoked an increasing number of resistant species of pests and cause damage to our health and the earth’s ecosystems. An example study showed Red Thyme and Clove Bud to exhibit toxicity against nymphs (baby cockroaches). Cockroaches were shown to avoid thymol and other essential oils.
Belief in Separation or Belief in Oneness
"We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness." -- Albert Einstein
What role do your beliefs play in fueling the worldwide global crises facing us today?
We’ve reached the age of scientific enlightenment. From discoveries made in the new field of quantum science we now understand, intellectually at least, that everything is interconnected. All things work together as one in a matrix of life sustaining energy.
Humanity as a whole, however, has not yet connected the dots and seen the role that loving kindness and appreciation for all living sentient beings plays in the creation of a thriving planet with happy, healthy and prosperous global citizens of all species. This is a BIG shift and ‘aha’ wake-up moment for everyone. The connection between all earth’s creatures must be recognized and realized within our own heart. Getting it in your head will not mobilize the kind of shift we need worldwide.
All of the buildup of pressure from worldwide crises we are now experiencing are potentially fueling an opportunity for a worldwide global shift to an intuitive, heart based system for living life.
Research shows significantly positive effect of oneness beliefs on life satisfaction.