What is Pharmacokinetics?

Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS

Article at a Glance

Being the first name in essential oil science means being progressive and doing research that nobody else is doing. doTERRA is once again at the forefront of essential oil science, using pharmacokinetic research to develop evidence-based usage guidelines, for you.

Essential Oil Safety

In their most pure In their most pure CPTG Certified Pure Tested Grade™ form and when recommendations are followed, the risks associated with essential oil use are minimal. The majority of adverse events associated with essential oils involve incorrect use: application to sensitive areas of the body, exposure to extreme amounts, or not following guidelines with use of photosensitive oils. Due to decades of research, guidelines exist regarding essential oils and toxicity; however, safety and efficacy aren’t necessarily the same thing. How much, how often, and when to administer essential oils for the greatest benefit is the next frontier in essential oil research, and it all begins with pharmacokinetics.

What Is Pharmacokinetics?

The roots of the term “pharmacokinetics” are Greek; they combine pharmakon (drug) and kinetikos (to move or put in motion). In modern science, pharmacokinetics refers to the study of what a living organism does to a substance; in this context, it is the movement of essential oils through the human body. The study of pharmacokinetics involves four basic steps:

  1. Absorption — the process of the substance entering the bloodstream.
  2. Distribution — how the substance is disseminated throughout the fluids and tissues within the body.
  3. Metabolism — how the substance transforms within the body and the resulting byproducts (metabolites).
  4. Excretion — how the substances are removed from the body or, sometimes, how they may accumulate in body tissue.

Investigation of these factors allows for a greater understanding of essential oil behavior in the body. These include: dose (how much), dose interval (time between dose administrations), half-life (how long it takes for the concentration to reach half of its original value), and bioavailability (how much of the substance reaches systemic circulation).

Why Is Pharmacokinetics Important for Essential Oils?

Depending on the individual using the essential oil, recommended dose may range from a toothpick dipped into a bottle and stirred into food up to a few drops in a glass of water or capsule. There is good reason for this cautious and methodical approach, as a Renaissance era Swiss physician and alchemist said, “Sola dosis facit venenum” which means, whether a substance—any substance—is harmful or helpful to the human body is based upon the level of exposure. This is also the case for necessary and seemingly innocuous substances such as water; a certain amount is essential for survival, but too much can have adverse effects. Essential oils, being potent concentrated substances, are no different. Each essential oil may have different pharmacokinetic characteristics and everybody responds differently, meaning the amount and time-interval of application necessary for peak benefit for you is distinct. Understanding pharmacokinetics is the next step in developing individual usage guidelines and enabling essential oil use to become more accepted in the scientific and medical communities.

The Future of Essential Oils

doTERRA continues to expand their mindshare advantage, producing groundbreaking research in the essential oil industry. This puts us in the perfect position to take the understanding of essential oil use to the next level. With an unrivaled team of in-house scientists and research partners, doTERRA is diving alone into the pharmacokinetics of essential oils and already has some amazing results with the promise of more to come.

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