Research has been done to investigate the potential of essential oils like thyme (Thymus vulgaris) to slow or reverse the aging process by acting as antioxidants to protect organs and tissues from oxidative stress. Oils such as lemon (Citrus limon) and clove (Syzygium aromaticum) have shown to act as powerful antioxidants as well as to protect cellular DNA from damage. They also have powerful antiseptic properties.
The oxidative stress/free radical theory seems to be the most substantiated and persuasive as the cause of aging. What it means is that aging is caused by cumulative oxidative stress to the DNA, receptors and cell walls. Electrons that are created by normal immune and metabolic functions attack proteins and disrupt DNA. Eventually this will be too much for the body to repair, and it will lead to disease and death.
Most research have focused on the damage to the DNA. However, the free radical damage can especially be devastating to the unstable polyunsaurated fatty acids. They form the phospholipid membranes of almost all the cells in the body. Hormone receptors and ion transports are disrupted when they fatty membranes are attacked by free radicals. This can speed up the organ and tissue damage in the body.
Antioxidant protection decline as we age. Gluthatione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase decline along with the other antioxidants.
DHA and other long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are unstable and vulnerable to oxidation and chemical damage. The body's own antioxidant system has to work harder to protect them in order to keep the health. Unfortunately the liver starts producing less PUFA as we age, and it means it is less able to replace the supply of PUFA needed for the tissues, the brain and other organs. Being able to prevent the degradation of the polyunsaturated fats from free radical damage can slow down the signs of aging.
Fortunately research has been done to see if essential oils are able to slow the rancidity of fatty oils. Dr. Faraq at the University of Cairo found that the when treating cottonseed oil samples with thyme and clove oils they provided significant protection compared to the non-treated samples. Thyme generated a 20% reduction in rancidity and clove generated a 30% drop in rancidity. A second study was done that showed that essential oils such thyme, clove, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and sage (Salvia officinalis) stopped the oxidation of the polyunsaturated omega -6 fatty acid linoleic acid.
Other clinical trials have been performed at the Scottish Agricultural College and the Semmelweis University of Medicine in Hungary.
Researchers found in their clinical trials that daily lifelong feeding of thyme and clove oils to laboratory animals preserved key antioxidant levels in the kidneys, liver, brain and heart. Essential oils stopped the oxidation and destruction of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Other studies showed that the oils, thyme, clove, nutmeg and pepper restored DHA in the eyes to a much younger level.
DHA is also essential for brain function. Studies showed that feeding 100 animal subjects a daily dose of thyme essential oil for 28 months dramatically slowed the age-related DHA and PUFA degradation in the brain. Thyme oil was able to partially prevent brain aging through protection of the essential fatty acids. The analysis of the data showed that the 28 months old animals' brains was almost the same as that of a 7 month old. Translated into human terms it means that an 80 year old having a brain chemistry of a 20 year old!
Thyme supplements also slowed the reduction of the total amount of antioxidants in the brain. Thyme essential oil also preserved the levels of PUFA in the animals' kidneys, hearts, and livers, while it at the same time raised the antioxidant level. It even raised the levels of the key antioxidant gluthatione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase.
Clove has potent antioxidant boosting properties. Studies on animals show that five compounds of clove significantly increase levels of gluthatione S-transferase. GST is one of the most important detoxifying enzymes in our body that is crucial in neutralizing potential cancer-causing chemicals. The compounds tested were b-caryophyllene, b-caryophyllene oxide, a-humulene, a-humulene epoxide 1 and eugenol. Other studies have also shown that clove essential oil exhibits pronounced antitumoral and DNA-protectant effects.
Essential oils have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that have the ability to inhibit growth of fungi, bacteria and viruses. This is also an important way that essential oils aid in the anti-aging process. Some bacteria such as Chlamydia pneumoniae have been implicated as one of the causes in heart disease. Fungi like Candida Albicans secrete toxins called mycotoxins, and have been implicated in cancer as well.
Weber State University tested the killing power of 67 different essential oils against a variety of molds, yeast, gram positive bacteria and gram negative bacteria. Clove, thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, oregano and mountain savory possessed the strongest antimicrobial actions.
As you can see essential oils can be a great addition to an anti-aging program. Not only do the raise the antioxidant levels and block damage to PUFA. They may also protect cellular DNA from damage that may lead to mutations and tumor growth. A 1986 study found that feeding a diet including 5% eugenol, the main constituent in clove oil, protected the animals against cancer causing effects of the chemical benzopyrene.
Thanks for visiting!
Johanna is an aromatherapist and she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. She also runs Naturally Sports & Wellness together with her husband. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information.
This post is linked to: