Health Benefits of the Diverse Volatile Oils in Native Plants of Ancient Ironwood-Giant Cactus Forests of the Sonoran Desert: An Adaptation to Climate Change?

Gary Paul Nabhan, Eric Daugherty, Tammi Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We document the species richness and volatile oil diversity in Sonoran Desert plants found in the Arizona Uplands subdivision of this binational USA/Mexico region. Using floristics, we determined that more than 60 species of 178 native plants in the ancient ironwood-giant cactus forests emit fragrant biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), especially with the onset of summer monsoons. From these desert species, more than 115 volatile oils have been identified from one biogeographic region. For the 5 BVOCs most commonly associated with “forest bathing” practices in Asian temperate forests, at least 15 Sonoran Desert plant species emit them in Arizona Uplands vegetation. We document the potential health benefits attributed to each of 13 BVOCs in isolation, but we also hypothesize that the entire “suite” of BVOCs emitted from a diversity of desert plants during the monsoons may function synergistically to generate additional health benefits. Regular exposure to these BVOC health benefits may become more important to prevent or mitigate diseases of oxidative stress and other climate maladies in a hotter, drier world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3250
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs)
  • Climate change
  • Deserts
  • Essential oils
  • Health benefits
  • Sonoran Desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Health Benefits of the Diverse Volatile Oils in Native Plants of Ancient Ironwood-Giant Cactus Forests of the Sonoran Desert: An Adaptation to Climate Change?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this