Free Radicals, Antioxidants, and GOLD -- Oh My!

The Low-Down

We hear a lot about antioxidants, free radicals and oxidative stress in wellness commercials…but does anyone actually know what that means? Beyond the marketing gimmicks and expensive powders you’d have to sell a kidney for…and then buy yet another kidney supplement. 😂 

Here’s the fairly-simple low-down:

Free radicals are unstable molecules that, when found in excess, can damage or “oxidize” cells throughout the body in a process called oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress can leave our cells and tissues unable to function properly.

How are we exposed to free radicals? Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that are created in the body during normal metabolic + mitochondrial functions (it’s totally normal to have SOME — with every breath, exercise, and more) or introduced from the environment, such as by exposure to pollution and other toxins. We just don’t want TOO many, that’s when they wreck havoc. The issue is that increased exposure {due to our diet, environment, water, and stress} leaves our body seriously susceptible to free radical damage.

Disturbances in the normal redox state of cells can cause toxic effects through the production of peroxides and free radicals that damage all components of the cell, including proteins, lipids, and DNA. Oxidative stress from oxidative metabolism causes base damage, as well as strand breaks in DNA.

Now, antioxidants are our friends, as they neutralize the free radicals by donating an electron and making them “stable”. We naturally produce antioxidants, but our body does rely on the food we intake to supply additional AO’s — think colourful berries, kale, and even dark chocolate. oh, and turmeric. big time.

Nature’s OG Antioxidant: TURMERIC

T U R M E R I C ✨  is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, and it’s in a ton of dōTERRA’s supplements, from the Alpha CRS, Terrastix AO, and Deep Blue Polyphenols. (I’ve written about how these are a powerhouse combination for naturally tackling inflammation)

with dōTERRA, we have access to all the unique + anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric in powder & essential oil form. 

i’m gonna let you in on a little science secret why you really need both:

when you take turmeric as a powder, the main beneficial constituent is the polyphenol curcumin, which is the Aryuvedic superstar we all know + love. note: usually, in the processing of turmeric powder, 100% of the essential oil is evaporated, but dōTERRA sources the turmeric we find in our supplements with a proprietary process that leaves about 9% of the residual essential oil, which leads to massive increases in bioavailability (the body’s ability to actually absorb the nutrients into your system). so this isn’t just turmeric powder from the local store — this stuff is extra potent + powerful. 

So, why do we need the oil as well? the chemistry is totally different when we take turmeric as an essential oil (volatile aromatic compound) vs. the phytochemical curcuminoids. The main benefit we are exposed to in the eo form is the group of molecules known as turmerones, which tote impressive benefits beyond curcumin and are only present in micro-percentages in the powder form. Most impressively, studies have shown potential of turmerones to combat neurodegenerative activity in the brain and central nervous system as well as increase cellular antioxidant enzymes, like glutathione. with the dōTERRA turmeric essential oil, steam distilled, you’re getting the purest dose of next-level health.

Many might not realize this, but most turmeric “essential oils” on the market today are NOT essential oils, they are actually CO2 extracts — different story. While this might seem like a negligible aspect, simply a matter of processing semantics, the fact that dōTERRA steam distills actually changes the game. When you do a CO2 extract, it is done with a solvent— usually hexane. Analysis of CO2 extracts of Turmeric resulted in some of the aromatic constituents, some of the curcuminoids, and some of the solvent. When the chemistry is inconsistent, you get inconsistent benefits. On the other hand, when you do a pure steam distillation on the Turmeric root, you only get the aromatic components, in this case: pure turmerones, which have extensive benefits. I link some studies + clinical trials below that research it’s ability to naturally support body tissue , increase the antioxidant capacity in the body, sustain cardiovascular health, support and preserve brain function, and exhibit neuroprotective funcionality.



Here are links to some of the leading research on the power of turmeric, curcumin, and turmerones:





Non-Curcuminoids (aka Turmerones) + Anti-cancer:


  • Use 1-2 drops internally for cell viability and protection

  • Use topically to calm tissue irritation

  • Use in combination with Green Mandarin for inhibitory effects on the 5-Lox pathway in the respiratory system

  • Use with Yarrow|Pom topically for inflammatory support (Cox-2 pathway).

Want to get started with essential oils? Ready to uplevel in a big way? Head here.

Regan Plekenpolhealth