Sunday, August 8, 2010

Smoky Mountains or Sunburn?

When I first started this study, I used a 1/2 inch binder to keep my sheets of notes. One day I couldn't find that binder, so I started a new one, thinking I would eventually find the first and merge the two. Today, I found the first and cannot find the second. You can imagine my original aggravation. Now I just find it comically ironic. haha!

Page 63 in "The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple" starts talking about how essential oils can affect sun exposure. They can both protect from the sun, and amplify the UV exposure. I find it amazing how God is able to kill two birds with one stone in so many areas of life.

A lot of desert plants contain essential oils with certain kinds of molecules called tetraterpenes and carotenoids. These molecules are a little larger than a lot of other essential oil molecules. They sometimes give color and pigment to the plants. They are able to lower the frequency of sun rays down to infrared levels, and then convert the energy to heat that can be expressed from the plant. This protects the plant from sunburn and dehydration at the same time!

One alcohol called platyphyllol is common in cajeput oil. It has been used in commercial sunscreens because it is so affective against UV exposure. Cajeput is melaleuca leucadendra, from the myrtle family.

Another way oils protect plants from dehydration is through expression. This is where the Great Smoky Mountains get their name: the trees and plants express oils into the air above them, which creates a thick haze, visible in the late afternoon. The sun's rays and heat are not able to fully penetrate this haze, and water evaporation is prevented.

Some plants require more sunlight than they normally receive. The citrus trees are a perfect example of this. The oils in unripe citrus rinds contain furanoids. These furanoids have a particular pentagon shape. They act like prisms and magnifying glasses to enhance UV exposure to the fruit. It ripens the fruit faster, and increases the sugar content. I find myself thinking that that must be why we have our citrus fair in the winter: these furanoids must be a huge contributor to citrus fruit ripening in an unlikely time of year. After the fruit is ripe, the furanoids disappear.

I didn't realize that this means that Young Living citrus oils must be pressed from unripe rinds then. Interesting how they still smell good enough to eat. I suppose it is possible that they press the oils from a combination of ripe and unripe rinds.... Interesting....

Because the citrus oils contain these furanoids, it is important that we do not use them on skin that is normally exposed to the sun during the day. Young Living uses the word "phototoxic" to let us know that they can cause accelerated UV exposure, which causes sunburn and even permanent pigment in the skin. If they must be used on normally exposed skin, it is important to wear appropriate clothes, like long sleeved shirts to cover the arms in the spring and summer months. Diluting these oils with a fatty oil does not counteract the phototoxicity to my knowledge.

It is important for me to note that citrus oils are extremely helpful with all manner of health needs. They are generally considered a pleasant fragrance, which is always soothing and uplifting. They are often used to help rowdy kids calm, and even to help people of all ages sleep better. They are extremely antiviral and antibacterial. The Young Living citrus oils are edible, and can be used to help the body decrease mucous, and cleanse the blood. Because they are very high in monoterpenes, they are very important in emotional sin repentance. Monoterpenes re-write correct information on the inside of the body's cells after sesquiterpenes have erased faulty information.

I say all that to say that citrus oils should NOT be avoided. In fact, partly because of their effectiveness and wide range of application, and partly because of the fact that they are some of the least expensive oils, I believe they should be used as much as possible. We just need to keep sun exposure in mind when we use them.

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