Cognitive advantages of essential oils and marine identity empowerment

Professor Snezana Agatonovic-Kustrin

Vouching for healthy cognitive aging and redefining ocean state sovereignty are two different tasks in life. What makes them similar, nevertheless, is the common goal they share: to improve the quality of human living and societal functions at large.

The third Pecha Kucha session held recently saw two academicians present findings from their respective fields of pharmaceutical chemistry and political science.

On the micro side of things was Professor Snezana Agatonovic-Kustrin. The professor from the School of Pharmacy is currently investigating ways in which biochemical properties of functional herbs such as oregano, rosemary, and sage can contribute to healthy cognitive aging, whether as essential oils or in their original plant forms.

Professor Agatonovic-Kustrin shared, “The total life expectancy [across the globe] is increasing, the incidence of aging-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease is also increasing. And it’s purely because of poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle.” Findings supporting her research also showed that these herbs, used to their maximum potentials, can even delay the onset of aging-related diseases such Alzheimer’s in those genetically predisposed to them.

This is where the use of essential oils as well as the Mediterranean diet — which Professor Agatonovic-Kustrin referred to the observable model for cognitive health optimisation due to its generous utility of these herbs — comes into place. In layman’s terms, she concludes, “It is not going to cure Alzheimer’s disease, but it can improve or delay it. A healthy lifestyle can really do a lot. We have sources showing that the rise of these diseases are really alarming, especially in developing countries. It is because of bad diet and lifestyle. So the idea is to convey the information that simple aromatherapy and healthy eating, can prevent the development of all these diseases.”

Dr Nicholas Chan Wai Kit

Meanwhile, Dr Nicholas Chan Wai Kit, who has taught at Oxford University and consulted organisations such as United Nations and the African Climate Policy Centre, went to great details to convey his findings on the macro side of life. The School of Arts and Social Sciences academic explained the powerful effects of narratives as an empowering tool for small island states to improve their visibility, not to mention credibility, as marine law entities.

According to Dr Chan, it is all in the name. He starts, "Arthur C Clarke, the science fiction writer, once said that we call this planet Earth, but we should call it Planet Ocean.” On the state of our planet’s marine environment, he reveals, “We have all kinds of warning signs on what’s happening to our fish and our issues on plastic, but increasingly our political reaction is beginning to take stock of all this. One of the key issues here is what sustainable development would forge to converse all of the world’s oceans by 2020.” An ocean, he explained, is a space that is deeply political, with much of its perimeters segmented and politically controlled by large countries.

But decision-making autonomy should not belong to big states alone. Dr Chan asserted that by allowing small island states (such as Fiji, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands) to reframe their political title by which they officially go by, they can create a ripple effect on how political agreements on marine laws can be improved and expanded in the future to come. The term ‘large ocean state’, he concluded, can therefore empower what traditionally is a small island state to assert its experiential sovereignty in maritime affairs, and thus, help improve the overall quality of all marine life and living.