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Molecular Docking

Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez DHSc, MS

Article at a Glance

Contemporary scientific research and the growing essential oil industry are helping us discover new ways in which essential oils can benefit our lives. This is causing many to wonder, “What exactly makes essential oils do what they do?” Fortunately, networks of researchers are beginning to find answers to that question using state-art-of-the-art methods of scientific discovery. One of these innovative methods of discovery is molecular docking.

Understanding Essential Oils on a Cellular Level

In order to fully understand how essential oils take effect and have a lasting impact on cells and their components, we need to look much closer than physical manifestations, such as improved skin appearance or feelings of clear breathing. We need to take a journey into the cell and examine how essential oils work on a microscopic level. However, even at a microscopic level, there are still some unanswered questions and gaps in understanding, compelling us to look deeper and from totally different angles. Many of these methods of scientific investigation are completely new, not only to essential oils, but to the world of science as a whole. Using these front-line research methods, doTERRA scientists have gone beyond the microscope to further our understanding of how essential oils do what they do. One of these processes is known as molecular docking.

What is Molecular Docking?

Molecular docking is an in silico tool of discovery, used to characterize interactions between two molecules. When the term “in silico” is used to describe a scientific process, it simply means that it is accomplished via computer simulation. Molecular docking and computer-aided discovery are hugely beneficial to the scientific community, offering a time- and cost- effective way to assess how molecules will interact with one another. This is an especially useful tool in evaluating how molecules might behave before assessing them in cultured cells or in a living organism. 

Molecular docking in essential oil research involves the use of special programs and parameters, designed to characterize the interactions between essential oil constituents and protein targets inside the cell. With these programs, doTERRA researchers are able to gain a clearer understanding of what essential oils do by observing how they possibly interact with their protein targets. 

Why Molecular Dock Matters

The knowledge gained from molecular docking allows doTERRA to gain insight regarding the effectiveness of current usage models and the possibility of new ones, how to improve blending for specific purposes, and possible further benefits of aromatic compounds. From the source to you, this adds up to doTERRA being able to offer the highest quality all-natural essential oils and blends, and the best education on how to use them for lifelong vitality and wellness.

With the work being conducted daily by their own scientific experts and their research collaborations, doTERRA continues to set the precedent for innovation and science in the essential oil industry. Although there’s still a lot of investigation ahead, doTERRA is beginning to piece together the complex scientific puzzle of the essential oil experience using innovative discovery methods such as molecular docking. The knowledge gained from these studies not only will advance our overall understanding of essential oils, but may also help us further demonstrate the unmatched efficacy, purity, and quality of CPTG® oils and assist in future product formulation.

doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary, experimental studies and further research is needed to gain a greater understanding of the findings. Essential oils may have drug interactions, patient contraindications, or adverse effects that cannot be evaluated using experimental research results alone. If you are interested in using essential oils for any health concern, consult with your healthcare provider first.

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