Most of us want to maintain a youthful appearance for as long as possible and some go to great lengths to do so. A number of cosmeceuticals are available to help sustain a youthful glow. But if you really want to look and feel younger, the best place to start is within, at the cellular level.

Cellular division and renewal slows down as we age. In addition, elevated free radicals (reactive oxygen species, or ROS) levels can damage mitochondrial DNA, change chromosome structure (called aberrations), or trigger defective stem cell differentiation. This all leads to premature aging and the visible signs of aging.

Several studies demonstrate that antioxidants improve cellular renewal, promote genome stability, protect DNA from damage, and improve stem cell survivability and differentiation. Stem cells have the amazing ability to develop into many different cell types (differentiate) and serve as an internal repair system. Essentially, stem cells perpetually divide as long as you are alive. Each stem cell division allows the new cell to remain a stem cell or become a more specialized cell, such as a muscle cell (myocyte), brain cell (neuron), or red blood cell (erythrocyte).

Scientists have tested the antioxidant potential of hundreds of essential oils and concluded that many of them possess strong or potent antioxidant properties. These essential oils that act as antioxidants help maintain youthful cellular function. Youthful cells are more efficient in gene expression and the creation of functional products, which leads to the whole organism (you) thriving.

The following are promising essential oils with demonstrated antioxidant function. (1)

  • Black pepper essential oil and ginger essential oil both exhibit strong antioxidant activity.
  • Clove is one of the most potent antioxidant essential oils known and even protects cholesterol from being oxidized.
  • German chamomile essential oil possesses stronger antioxidant activity than vitamin C, vitamin E, and the synthetic antioxidant butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
  • Lavender essential oil enhances the activity of key antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, and is good antioxidant itself.
  • Marjoram essential oil with good levels of terpinen-4-ol, trans-sabinene hydrate, gamma-terpinene, and alpha-terpinene is a potent antioxidant.
  • Nutmeg essential oil is also a potent antioxidant.
  • Oregano essential oil increases antioxidant enzyme activity up to 300% and possesses potent antioxidant properties.
  • Thyme oil is a strong antioxidant and increases total antioxidant activity in the liver.

The optimal way to enjoy antioxidants from essential oils is to ingest them. Combining two or more of the above essential oils will enhance their benefits. Provide your cells the antioxidants they need to protect against damage caused by free radicals and maintain their youthful function. By doing so, you will feel and look your best.