September 23, 2019
VI. Free Radicals vs. Antioxidants
The following content was written as a project by one of our senior instructors, Sharon Babbert, but does not necessarily reflect the opinions of our school. It is part of a six part series. Links to the other parts will be available at the bottom of this article.*
Essential oils are a phenomenal weapon in the fight against aging. They help work against free radicals to create younger-looking skin. What are free radicals, you ask?
Free Radicals can be defined as molecules that contain an unpaired electron in an atomic orbit. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron. When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. The body’s immune system purposefully creates them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals.
Normally, the body can handle free radicals by utilizing antioxidants (or anti-free radicals), but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Important Note: free radical damage accumulates with age.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron “stealing” reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form. They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease. Vitamins C and E are thought to protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals.
Vitamin E – The most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available, it is the primary defender against oxidation.
Vitamin C – The most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C acts primarily in cellular fluid. It is particularly effective in combating free radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke.
Apply a drop of Tea Tree Oil to a damp cotton swab and touch it to a pimple or boil. The blemish will dry up and disappear. This is one of the few times an EO can be used ‘neat’ or without a carrier.
- What is Aromatherapy?
- Essential Oils (EOs) Are Essential to Aromatherapy
- Making Scents of Essential Oils
- Carrier Oils
- Customized Applications
- Free Radicals vs. Antioxidants
*Recipes and information and instruction contained in this article are the sole recommendations of the author. Attempt at your own risk.