Words by Hannah Tapping
British agri-tech and Cornish farm diversification combine to create mollecular wellbeing products that are at once innovative, cutting edge and sustainable.
I will forgive you for raising an eyebrow when I tell you that there is a place on the Roseland more akin to a James Bond set than the coastal paradise and countryside idyll one would normally associate with this remote area of Cornwall. I first learned of the Parnall Group when doing some research during lockdown and discovered a diverse combination of agriculture and biotechnology, with professional services and advanced engineering; one arm of which even specialises in the authentic reconstruction of the Spitfire MK V for static display... but more of this another day.
What I’m interested in are the crops being grown there and the resultant wellbeing products that are the result of years of in-house cutting-edge plant science.
Home of the group is the stunning Trelonk Estate where crops, native to warmer climes, are flourishing under the agronomic skills of the team. Set in 160 acres, the estate is a hub for science and innovation blended with crop cultivation and land preservation. Sustainability is at the heart of the brand’s ethos: offering a model for the future of farming –high value for land and environment. Roses, which once flourished on the Roseland are burgeoning here once more with some 20,000 plants being cultivated, and yields improving year on year. Sage, lavender, rosemary, feverfew, sweet marjoram and mint are also being grown in bulk, alongside neutraceutical crops, which are harvested and extracted through super critical extraction and distillation methods specific to plant extracted oils.
Founder of Trelonk Wellbeing, Mark Parnall believes there is a significant opportunity to connect the authentic origins of Cornish grown crops and world-class science to help people who do not always want to turn to pharmaceutical solutions: “Living through Covid-19 has caused a shift in attitude towards plant science, along with compelling research showing the effectiveness of particular plant molecules on human health.” His aim is to retain the product development and production on site and take farm diversification to another level.
Trelonk’s location, climate and soil means it’s one of the only farms in the country where it is possible to grow the array of crops chosen as ingredients in the plant extracted oils, which are being used in the newly launched Trelonk Mollecular Wellbeing; a collection of essential oil formulas that promise the relief of conditions associated with pain, the mind and sleep. As a busy working mother (who can relate to all of the ailments above!) I was keen to find out the science behind the statement and whether these oils would deliver on such a bold claim for a product made from plants.
Using ancient botanical knowledge, combined with scientific research, the range helps to support people living with both chronic and acute conditions with easy-to-use, formulations. Grown, extracted and bottled on the Roseland, this whole-plant therapy offers an alternative perspective for the health and wellbeing industry. Having recently unveiled £1 million worth of scientific equipment on the site, Trelonk’s partners are using the equipment’s research, extraction, and analysis capabilities to inform the essential oil formulas. No less than three state-of-the-art laboratories are designated for plant tissue culture, oil extraction and molecular analysis.
This analysis identifies the active elements in the plants known as terpenes – a family of aroma molecules that contribute to how things smell (think zesting a lemon). When inhaled, these terpenes interact with olfactory receptors found on the nerve cells inside our nose. This, in turn, links with the centres of the brain that regulate both emotions and hormone production. Therefore, terpene inhalation has the potential to affect many bodily processes from stress to inflammation. It’s this combination of Trelonk’s nutraceutical crops, essential oils and targeted plant terpenes that creates wellbeing at a molecular level.
Aromacologists at Trelonk pinpoint the molecules in each plant that have the highest impact to create nine formulas used to target three distinct categories; reduction of everyday aches and pains; aiding mental wellbeing; aiding restful sleep. Perhaps little known, the fastest and most efficient method of neurotransmission in the body is via active inhalation, which is why Trelonk’s research has focused on this method of dispensing essential oils to the body as quickly and efficiently as possible. Working within 60-90 seconds, nasal receptors communicate with nerve cells via the neurotransmitters in our limbic system which triggers bodily responses that can be anything from reducing stress to inflammation. Although the effects of the plant extracted oil formulations may be felt in a few minutes, to experience the full benefit of the plant power, consistent use for at least two weeks is recommended, allowing time for the body to re-balance and support improvement.
The concentrated, pure essential oils, boosted with bio-actives, are supplied with a special vial into which they can be decanted for ease of use – something akin to the smelling salts of old. Alternatively, they can be used with a steam diffuser or oil burner. The formulas created as body oils can be used topically or added to a bath, and contain a mix of homegrown cold-pressed camelina, sunflower, calendula and borage oil. All these crops have a high concentration of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), fatty acids and antioxidants which promote skin nourishment and excellent skin health benefits.
I am only a few days into using the products – Lights Out topical oil to aid sleep and Head Strong essential oil for stress and anxiety – and while a couple of weeks is recommended to experience the full benefits as your body rebalances, I can feel them working already. As a self-confessed insomniac, my nights are less restless and the seemingly endless hours of trying to drop off after a busy day have reduced. Similarly, a deep inhalation of Head Strong has helped to dispel anxious moments both at work and at home.
The team harvest and extract, blend and bottle from the Trelonk Estate on the Roseland, working sustainably, with much of the by-product waste being used for vegan animal feed. There is a real need in modern society for provenance to be real, and for claims to be just, and in this space where botanicals meet technology, Trelonk Wellbeing is displaying just that.