Essential Oils: What Are They and What Do They Do?

By Ross Macdonald

When a supplement is called essential it means that the body does not produce it and, therefore, it has to be supplemented by other means — mostly by mouth. There are several oils (called fatty oils) that are important to your health. For one thing, the brain is largely made up of these fatty oils. The oil known as Omega 3 is usually derived from cold water fish, specifically mackerel, herring, halibut, and salmon, or from flaxseeds. (Many of you will remember being forced to take cod liver oil as kids.) Omega 3 is a combination of EPA and DHA oils (the scientific names I will not bother you with). More and more strong evidence suggests that Omega 3 is one of the most helpful supplements in your heart’s health, in the growth of cells, and in your immune and nervous systems. Omega 3 comes in capsule form with a recommended dosage of 1000mg twice a day. Flaxseed oil has the added benefit of helping to maintain present cholesterol levels.

The Omega 6 oils come from Borage, Evening Primrose, and Black Current oils. These are also essential and have successfully been used to combat pain due to arthritis in its different forms. The base of Omega 6 oils is grains and cereals. Omega 3 and 6 have been studied extensively and good results have been obtained using them to improve age related mental impairment, Alzheimer’s, anticancer treatments, breast cancer, herpes, prostate cancer prevention, pain management, and maintainace of bones.

This is one of the most important supplements available. The various names are DHA, EPA, Omega 3, Omega 3-6-9, flaxseed, and GLA. Omega 3 oils should be accompanied by vitamin gamma E. Vitamin E is one of the most important antioxidants necessary to good health. There are, however, various forms of this vitamin. The prefix “dl” indicates that the vitamin is chemically produced; “d” is the natural form and is absorbed much more rapidly into your system. Some research has found that synthetic vitamin E is almost worthless. There are also the alpha and gamma forms. The best is gamma tocopherol, a combination of alpha, gamma tocopherols, and tocotrienols. Vitamin E works well with vitamin C and selenium. It is a strong antioxidant to fight free radicals in the body and helps maintain healthy immune and prostate systems.

Several years ago at the University of California Berkeley, researchers discovered that old, almost dying rats could be revived by using a form of the amino acid L-Carnitine (used for heart health) known as Acetyl L Carnitine (ALC). It was discovered that ALC slowed the breakdown of the animal’s cells—a real anti-aging sign—and when the addition of a very strong antioxidant called Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) was added, the rats remained healthy. ALC is also widely known as a protector of brain cells. ALA also promotes muscle energy and liver health and revitalizes the underlying skin structure so it looks more radiant. ALA also has the ability to recycle the antioxidant vitamins C, E, and CoQ10 to help fight free radicals.

Ross Macdonald, BS, MS, CPT has written over 150 articles for La Atención about exercise, health, and vitamins/supplements since 1997. His specialization is vitamins and supplements for a healthy body. He can be reached at


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