'Huge potential' for Coast's aromatic oils

Kanuka a potential Coast success story, according to aromatherapist.

Kanuka a potential Coast success story, according to aromatherapist.

Aromatherapist Dai Leon. Picture by Paul Rickard

THE GLOBAL market potential for essential oils extracted from Coast plants, especially with the rise of vaping technology, is in the billions, an aromatherapist expert says.

Kanuka, in particular, is touted as a potential Coast success story.

Terpenes, commonly known as essential oils, are aromatics from plants that they release when under stress.

They can be inhaled using a vaporiser, similar to those used for e-cigarettes, to realise their health benefits.

Rather than burning to produce smoke, vaporisers produce water vapour to carry the active ingredient to the bloodstream.

Aromatherapist Dai Leon is managing director of E-Botanics, which produces herbal extracts for personal vaporisers.

“Terpenes are naturally aromatic and plants breathe them out like they breathe out oxygen,” he said.

Terpenes enable plants to handle stresses, be it the wind, sun, too little rain, bugs or insects.

Over time mammals started breathing them in too and benefiting from the stress relief properties.

“Pine is famous for helping humans reduce stress, and feel fresh and happy, if they have no allergy. Humans co-evolved breathing these terpenes in nature.”

Hikurangi Enterprises

Mr Leon was here to work with Ruatoria social enterprise Hikurangi Enterprises on opportunities with hemp, kanuka and other plant extracts.

While vaping is touted as a means to reduce harmful tobacco smoking, Mr Leon believes it can also be used as a therapeutic device to inhale these terpenes when living away from nature.

“In Gisborne, with all of the nature around, you do not notice it because you are naturally breathing it in.

“But if you are like so many billions of humans in a polluted city, you are completely deficient of those terpenes, and consequently can have a harder time dealing with stresses.”

Terpenes vary in their qualities but can reduce anxiety, stress and some are mild stimulants.

D-limonene, orange oil cold-pressed from the rind, is the most commonly-produced terpene.

“The orange oil market is about the same size as chocolate and cacao market. It goes in flavourings of all sorts, cleaning products, even tobacco.”

Recently the cannabis plant has become very popular for its medicinal properties, both the psychoactive marijuana and non-THC hemp.

The cannabinenes (terpenes) can be extracted and inhaled with a vaporiser to realise the health benefits.

Traditional uses

Kanuka also offers opportunities. Traditionally, kanuka has been used to treat pain, skin diseases, inflammation, anxiety and in aiding sleep.

“Kanuka is a beautiful plant,” Mr Leon said.

“There are variants of kanuka endemic to parts of the Coast. They have unique terpene profiles and unique therapeutic values.

“It is very much New Zealand organic. It is from an ancient dinosaur era, and you do not find it anywhere else in the world.”

Publicity gained from the manuka industry would help it gain access to the global market, especially China.

Essential oil extracting technology is not new, with Chinese herbalists extracting these oils for thousands of years, but the pharmaceutical industry had created a “vacuum of knowledge”.

“Now the amount of pharmaceuticals has over-ridden the market, with cheap anti-depressants, stimulants and sedatives,” Mr Leon said.

“It has created a vacuum regarding the younger generation learning about herbs.”

A lot of that knowledge lies with Maori and Polynesians, as well as traditional medicine.

While the equipment to extract and process the oils is about $500,000, the potential for this region is huge.

“The cat is out of the bag regarding the value of organic therapeutics,” Mr Leon said.

THE GLOBAL market potential for essential oils extracted from Coast plants, especially with the rise of vaping technology, is in the billions, an aromatherapist expert says.

Kanuka, in particular, is touted as a potential Coast success story.

Terpenes, commonly known as essential oils, are aromatics from plants that they release when under stress.

They can be inhaled using a vaporiser, similar to those used for e-cigarettes, to realise their health benefits.

Rather than burning to produce smoke, vaporisers produce water vapour to carry the active ingredient to the bloodstream.

Aromatherapist Dai Leon is managing director of E-Botanics, which produces herbal extracts for personal vaporisers.

“Terpenes are naturally aromatic and plants breathe them out like they breathe out oxygen,” he said.

Terpenes enable plants to handle stresses, be it the wind, sun, too little rain, bugs or insects.

Over time mammals started breathing them in too and benefiting from the stress relief properties.

“Pine is famous for helping humans reduce stress, and feel fresh and happy, if they have no allergy. Humans co-evolved breathing these terpenes in nature.”

Hikurangi Enterprises

Mr Leon was here to work with Ruatoria social enterprise Hikurangi Enterprises on opportunities with hemp, kanuka and other plant extracts.

While vaping is touted as a means to reduce harmful tobacco smoking, Mr Leon believes it can also be used as a therapeutic device to inhale these terpenes when living away from nature.

“In Gisborne, with all of the nature around, you do not notice it because you are naturally breathing it in.

“But if you are like so many billions of humans in a polluted city, you are completely deficient of those terpenes, and consequently can have a harder time dealing with stresses.”

Terpenes vary in their qualities but can reduce anxiety, stress and some are mild stimulants.

D-limonene, orange oil cold-pressed from the rind, is the most commonly-produced terpene.

“The orange oil market is about the same size as chocolate and cacao market. It goes in flavourings of all sorts, cleaning products, even tobacco.”

Recently the cannabis plant has become very popular for its medicinal properties, both the psychoactive marijuana and non-THC hemp.

The cannabinenes (terpenes) can be extracted and inhaled with a vaporiser to realise the health benefits.

Traditional uses

Kanuka also offers opportunities. Traditionally, kanuka has been used to treat pain, skin diseases, inflammation, anxiety and in aiding sleep.

“Kanuka is a beautiful plant,” Mr Leon said.

“There are variants of kanuka endemic to parts of the Coast. They have unique terpene profiles and unique therapeutic values.

“It is very much New Zealand organic. It is from an ancient dinosaur era, and you do not find it anywhere else in the world.”

Publicity gained from the manuka industry would help it gain access to the global market, especially China.

Essential oil extracting technology is not new, with Chinese herbalists extracting these oils for thousands of years, but the pharmaceutical industry had created a “vacuum of knowledge”.

“Now the amount of pharmaceuticals has over-ridden the market, with cheap anti-depressants, stimulants and sedatives,” Mr Leon said.

“It has created a vacuum regarding the younger generation learning about herbs.”

A lot of that knowledge lies with Maori and Polynesians, as well as traditional medicine.

While the equipment to extract and process the oils is about $500,000, the potential for this region is huge.

“The cat is out of the bag regarding the value of organic therapeutics,” Mr Leon said.

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