• Dr. Becker

We don't need to clean our cell receptors. That's a myth.


Do we really need to be worried about “cleaning” our receptors?Cell receptors are an important part of the communication system in organisms. Ligands such as growth factors bind receptors, and open ion channels or trigger signaling cascades. This system allows the cell to determine which genes need to be active, which proteins should be synthesized, and whether the cell should divide or move. Dysfunction in ligand-receptor interactions and receptor activation is associated with disease, and treatments often seek to eliminate this dysfunction.

Cancer cells also regulate their growth and gene expression based on extracellular signals, but are able to manipulate the cell’s own machinery to drive growth and proliferation to achieve immortality. Whether cancer cells increase the numbers of receptors at the cell surface, eliminate the degradation of bound receptors, or mutate receptors to function without ligand binding, application of phenylpropanoid-containing essential oils will not unblock receptors. Even if this was possible, making a receptor available for ligand binding would likely make the cancer cell more receptive to available ligands, which is not desirable. In this way, the logic of needing to clean receptors to cure disease is faulty. Claiming that drugs send misinformation to cells is likewise false. Although many treatments seek to trigger apoptosis or change gene regulation within the cell, these treatments are designed to eliminate faulty function in diseased cells, which have been able to override their normal function.

Are the claims by David Stewart that “Drugs clog and confuse receptor sites. Oils clean receptor sites. Drugs are designed to send misinformation to cells or block certain receptor sites in order to trick the body into giving up symptoms” true? The short answer is no – these claims are not true. The longer answer is that ligand binding at receptors is not just an issue of function or dysfunction. It’s not simply that ligand binding is good, and not binding is bad – the interaction is variable, and nuanced. Sometimes, for example, the ligand binds but fails to activate the receptor. There is evidence that phenylpropanoids found in essential oils of clove, cinnamon, cassia, and tarragon interact with some cell receptors. However, the action of this binding leads to inhibition or activation of receptors, not the “cleaning” of a bound receptor.

Claims that cell surface receptors need to be stripped by essential oil constituents are not supported by the research. Receptors do not universally need to be “stripped” nor have essential oil constituents been shown to universally “strip” ligands from receptors. Although the science that refutes these ideas is not simple, Stewart’s and others’ claims along with the hype about clogged receptors are simply wrong.

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