MONQ has helped hundreds of thousands of people on their wellness journey, and we’re excited to offer one more tool! This Wellness Guide explains the science behind MONQ and the reason it is the air you were meant to breathe. In it, you’ll discover:
- How our ancestors’ lush and natural environments—including the air they breathed and the food they ate—were vastly different than the urban environments we live in today. Read more.
- The unintended consequences of modernization, industrialization, and expansion of urban centers, and how those resulted in a number of wellness issues, such as increased stress. Skip here.
- That adopting a Paleo respiratory diet can help you restore your natural balance, just as a nutritive paleo diet may resolve digestive health issues. Learn about Paleo Air.
- The air our ancestors breathed was rich in terpenes; however, for most of us, there are very few terpenes in the air we now breathe. This leads to a terpene deficiency.
- Using MONQ is a simple and effective way of replacing these terpenes.
- MONQ is designed to maximize physiological benefits through the method of use and the formulaic properties of each blend, characterized by
- MONQ essential oil blends are created to mimic the air you evolved to breathe, giving you the opportunity to rebalance your body by breathing terpene-rich, paleo air designed to optimize your wellness.
MONQ emulates a meaningful component of the forest bathing experience and helps users experience a myriad of wellness benefits, including:
- Lower stress,
- Inspired creativity,
- Increased energy,
- Improved mood,
- Better sleep quality, and
- Lower discomfort levels,
by making paleo air accessible to you, anytime, anywhere.
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the practice of “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It is a Japanese practice that gained attention in 1982 and has since been shown by hundreds of scientific and medical studies to be beneficial to our health and wellness. This immersive sensory experience—taking in relaxing vistas, the sounds of wind and water, the texture of bark, the taste of forest edibles, and breathing in the distinctly natural aromas—has shown such promise that it is prescribed by medical practitioners to address health concerns such as:
- Elevated blood pressure and pulse,
- Anxiety and mood disorders,
- Immune function, and
- Hormonal imbalance.
At MONQ, we emulate the forest bathing experience specifically by engaging your sense of smell and the olfactory system.
Why does forest bathing and nature provide so many wellness benefits? For that answer, we need to travel back in time—2.5 million years ago!
In the Paleolithic Age, people were hunter-gatherers; they ate freshly harvested, whole foods—not processed food lacking nutritional value. While, there is no doubt that the agricultural revolution, which led to farming and the eventual ability to process our own food, was an incredible advancement for mankind, it had unintended negative consequences. The resulting deviation from our clean, evolutionary-guided paleo diets and lifestyles resulted in innumerable insults to human wellness, including the development of ailments such as gluten intolerance. But these insults are not limited to our modern-day diets. Consider for a moment: what else do we bring into our bodies?
Just as the food we eat now is very different from the food our ancestors ate, so too is the air we breathe very different from the air our ancestors breathed.
This is not simply a matter of what has been added to the air in the form of pollution. Rather, this is an issue of what is missing from the air: terpenes and other secondary metabolites.
Our ancestors lived in a world without cities and concrete, and humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in that ancient environment. As such, all of our bodily functions, all of our metabolic activities are most “at home” in that more natural environment.
Our ancestors (and all other animals) breathed terpene-rich air, which led them to sources of food, shelter, and community. Terpenes are secondary metabolites, the byproducts of plant metabolism, and they are aromatic molecules emitted by plants. They are not only external sources of wellness, but they also act internally, largely through olfactory receptors, to help our bodies maintain homeostasis and health.
To survive, humans need water to drink and food to eat. Our bodies crave sunlight to be healthy. We require air to breathe—and we are healthiest when that air is rich with terpenes.
Day, night, work, relaxation…our ancestors breathed terpenes released by the lush botanicals in their environments. When those environments began to change due to modern advances in agriculture, industry, and technology, our exposure to terpenes diminished. This led to terpene deficiency.
We cannot survive without food or water. We may be able to live without sunlight, but we cannot thrive without it. Secondary metabolites—terpenes—are like sunlight. We need terpenes for our bodies to function optimally so we can experience holistic wellness.
Terpene Deficiency Syndrome (TDS) is a state of unwellness characterized by a cluster of symptoms that present in response to insufficient exposure to terpenes. TDS was first recognized and defined by Eric Fishman, M.D., CEO and founder of MONQ, after he began exploring the role terpenes play in maintaining homeostasis and overall health. Dr. Fishman recognized that research had established that many terpenes have been shown to lower anxiety. He mused, therefore, that perhaps it is not that terpenes lower anxiety but rather that a lack of the natural terpenes in our daily respiratory diet leads to anxiety.
It stands to reason, then, that when our respiratory diet is terpene deficient, we fail to optimize our health and may even be unintentionally impeding it. That is to say, instead of maintaining a homeostatic, or balanced, state, our bodies are working hard to reach homeostasis. So, instead of using natural immune defenses to simply ward off acute illnesses, our bodies are continually mounting defenses against both chronic and acute illnesses.
Terpene deficiency is easily overlooked. It presents quietly, first with minor symptoms of discomfort that we have grown accustomed to experiencing in the form of sinus and head congestion, skin irritation, respiratory discomfort, and general fatigue. Symptoms like aches, burning or itchy eyes, nervousness or stress, tension in muscles, a rumbling stomach, poor sleep, and others, become more persistent and regular. These symptoms may be the markers of more serious and pervasive illnesses, such as heart disease, cancers, developmental delays, mental illness, and others.
All of these symptom clusters have been linked to both indoor and outdoor pollutants. However, what if, instead of being caused by the pollutants themselves, these ailments are due to lacking “nutrients?” That’s exactly what Dr. Fishman believes—our terpene deficient air has us out of balance and our bodies in a perpetual state of terpene deficiency.
When Dr. Fishman founded MONQ In 2014, it was his goal to blend nature and technology to provide an exceptionally effective and fulfilling personal aromatherapy experience—MONQ Aromatherapy Anywhere—as an efficacious way to bring wellness to many.
So, he founded MONQ drawing from concepts that were both new and old to him— from his years in medicine to the yoga studio—to expand upon our knowledge of evolution, human physiology, health and wellness, botanicals, and novel delivery devices. In doing so, he merged the concepts of retronasal olfaction, sensory adaptation, and the entourage effect and juxtaposed these with his theory of terpene deficiency. The result is what makes MONQ so powerful and effective.
Using MONQ: Retronasal Olfaction & Sensory Adaptation
When we move past the innovative delivery method of MONQ diffusers—novel aromatherapy devices—the benefits of therapeutic air are maximized by the “MONQ breath,” a technique relying on retronasal olfaction and the concept of sensory adaptation.
MONQ recommends users breathe in their mouth and out their nose, without inhaling to the lungs. Why? To get the most out of your MONQ experience.
Breathing in your nose is called orthonasal olfaction. Ortho indicates straight—a root Dr. Fishman knows well as an orthopedic surgeon who straightened bones for decades. Olfaction is smelling. So, the “straightway of smelling” is called orthonasal olfaction.
Conversely, breathing in through your mouth and then out through your nose is called retronasal olfaction. Retro means backward, as in “retro” fashion trends, for instance.
Retronasal olfaction can occur with or without inhaling to the lungs. We recommend MONQ users avoid inhaling to the lungs to maximize stimulation of olfactory receptors while minimizing the effect of sensory adaptation.
Terpenes—those building blocks of our aromatherapy—activate our olfactory receptors, which then use neurotransmission to affect our physiology. When MONQ users hold the mist in their mouths, the important terpene molecules are by the oral and nasal mucosa in the linings of the mouth and nose, from which they can directly and effectively stimulate olfactory receptors as the therapeutic air directly wafts by the olfactory bulb.
Moreover, by using a retronasal breath, MONQ users benefit more from terpenes—the active ingredients. When inhaling to the lungs, as much as 58% of aromas are retained there. While this is not harmful, it meaningfully diminishes the major physiological advantage of MONQ because it prevents the terpenes from ever passing by the olfactory bulb.
A fascinating neurophysiological concept is that of sensory adaptation. In short, sensory adaptation is the process by which our bodies acclimate and even begin to ignore familiar and/or repetitive stimuli.
For example, when we are in a forest and surrounded by thousands of trees, we do not have the same sensory impression of each. Rather, we notice certain trees but not others. Why?
Sometimes that is because of our intention, like when we are searching for a specific item or shape. More commonly it is because the tree capturing our attention is different from the others. Those differences may be attributed to:
- Visual stimuli, like movement, light, color, or an unusual shape which may draw our attention to an item.
- An unexpected tactile stimulus, such as thorns or particularly rough or smooth bark, which may cause us to notice an otherwise “ordinary” plant.
- A startling sound, such as the rustling of leaves that causes us to turn our focus and attention to a scene or object.
- A particular fragrance that may be especially strong or may evoke feelings of nostalgia.
- The taste of the object or items around it, which are distinct, regardless of whether they are preferable or not.
In short, we noticed the tree that is different either because of the tree itself or some other stimulus in its environment that draws our attention to it.
All of our senses are prone to sensory adaptation—our sense of smell is no exception.
Typically, individuals diffuse essential oils in their spaces. The fragrant air permeates the space and as our senses acclimate, we experience sensory adaptation. This is made worse by a constant and/or overly powerful diffusion. And while MONQ offers bottled blends for those who wish to experience aromatherapy in this manner, we recommend those blends be used only with an intermittent diffuser, such as our AnyWhere diffuser, to avoid sensory adaptation.
Preferably, users would choose a personal aromatherapy experience. By breathing from a MONQ diffuser—taking two to three breaths, two to three times per day—the user is directly stimulating the olfactory bulb with an appropriate amount of aromatherapy, for an appropriate duration. Because there is not constant olfactory stimulation, sensory adaptation does not occur, and the effect of the therapeutic blend is just as therapeutic during the last breath as it was in the first.
It’s not only the manner in which the aromatherapy is diffused but also the delivery of the aromatherapy that is the MONQ difference. Researchers investigated the occurrence of sensory adaptation with orthonasal versus retronasal fragrance delivery and found that adaptation occurred readily with orthonasal delivery but not with retronasal delivery. Because MONQ recommends retronasal olfaction, users get the most from our therapeutic air.
Our customers attest to this in many of the phenomenally powerful testimonials in which they state feeling the effects of MONQ aromatherapy with each and every breath.
Qualia & The Entourage Effect
By design, MONQ aromatherapy uses the synergy of the essential oils and CBD in our MONQ +cbd blends to create an entourage effect resulting in a fully therapeutic experience, helping you feel the way you want
At its onset, MONQ was designed to bring wellness to many, including enhancing our personal and collective experiences. This idea led to MONQ’s name—an acronym for Modifying One’s Natural Qualia.
Qualia is how we perceive the world. It is our individual experience of each sensory stimulus—how something smells, what something feels like. Qualia is unique to each person, and it is what defines our experience. So, when we talk about modifying one’s natural qualia, MONQ aromatherapy allows you, the user, to alter and define your personal experience with each breath of therapeutic air.
How does MONQ achieve this? Simply, with science and synergy. Each MONQ blend is created to evoke certain feelings and achieve therapeutic benefits. This is done by analyzing the terpene profile of the essential oils and formulating blends designed to have a robust, synergistic terpene profile. What is synergy? More than just an additive effect, synergy is when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts because of the manner in which the components interact with one another.
Take, for example, MONQ’s nootropic blend, Focus. Several of the individual essential oil components of this blend, like spearmint, rosemary, and pepper, have nootropic, or brain-boosting, properties. Initially, when creating the formula, MONQ scientists sought to maximize those properties to create a powerfully effective, breathable nootropic. Not only did they achieve that goal, but Focus has also been shown to increase visual acuity and contrast sensitivity—properties that are not attributed to any one of the formula constituents but result from the synergy between them.
MONQ did not stop there. With our MONQ +cbd collection, we elevated the synergy of our signature aromatherapy experience and optimized CBD to create a true entourage effect.
Our MONQ+ products are infused with American-grown CBD isolate. We use isolates to ensure our products are free from THC, so you can confidently breathe therapeutic air. The potential downside to CBD isolate, however, is that as the purest-form single-molecule version of CBD, it lacks a robust terpene profile. That’s where MONQ blends come in. With intentional terpene profiles, our signature blends give an infusion of therapeutic properties back to the CBD, potentiating it for a full and robust entourage effect resulting in an experience that safely and effectively enhances both the CBD and the MONQ signature blend.
Whether you choose a signature MONQ experience or MONQ +cbd, we use synergy and the entourage effect to more closely mimic the paleo air experience. The air our ancestors breathed was not just filled with a singular terpene. Rather, each landscape and ecosystem offered a fully aromatic experience with a rich terpene profile. Likewise, MONQ essential oil blends are designed to offer comprehensive therapeutic benefits so that you may enjoy complete and balanced wellness.
To thrive, to experience true and total wellness, our bodies need terpene-rich air. Each MONQ blend is designed to be just that—therapeutic air that balances our bodies so we can experience natural wellness.
As an extension of our product offerings, MONQ has created this Dr. MONQ Wellness program with curated blend kits to help you achieve desired effects, whether that is to feel the way you want, feel better, feel festive, or feel fun. Our signature blends are intentionally designed and handcrafted with pure essential oil blends to support your wellness journey. Choose your blend, choose your experience, and feel better, do better, be better in 2021.
Want to dive into these concepts? Explore our Dr. MONQ Wellness Research library for links to published research.