The MONQ is an interesting item: most people at first assume it’s a colourful e-cigarette or vaporiser, but it is neither.
In fact, the device contains no nicotine or tobacco at all – it is made simply of organic essential oils in a blends they claim will produce various effects. At the moment the ‘flavours’ they have are: Zen, Vibrant, Sleepy, Active, Healthy, Happy and Sexy. Being given the chance to try out two flavours, I chose Active and Zen (and with term starting they felt very much like emotions I wanted to emulate).
Now, it’s difficult to use a ‘personal essential oil diffuser’ in various pretty shades without looking a bit like a wannabe chic vaper – especially with the fake crystal end which lights up when inhaling. However, once you get past this image the diffuser is actually rather nice. The flavours leave a nice tang in your mouth, and there is probably something about taking the time out to engage in the act that helps focus your mind. The two flavours I was sent were Active, which consisted of orange, sage and black pepper, and Zen which had orange, ylang ylang and frankincense.
The theory behind MONQ is that the various scents you smell in nature – like when you walk through a forest, for example – are important for your emotional well being. This is founded on a Japanese theory called shirin-yoku or ‘Forest Bathing’. The theory came in 1982, when the Forest Agency of Japan argued that walking through wooded areas could reduce stress. While it could be argued that it was in part self-promotion from the Forest Agency, there are reasons behind it – as forest air has terpenes and phytoncides, basically essential oils that reduce stress and blood pressure. MONQ, by creating the inhalers, want users to ‘feel nature’ in the same way as one would while practising shirin-yoku.
Past the theory, I did enjoy using the diffusers. I am, perhaps, dubious as to their effects, however. I personally did not feel like one or the other promoted either ‘Active’ or ‘Zen’ emotions from me. But the act of deciding that I wanted to feel that emotion was almost as helpful, as it encourages you to take a minute to listen to what you are feeling. The essential oils may well have added to it also, but I think they are worth trying for the act of it alone.
As a non-smoker, I also wanted to see how someone who does smoke would feel using the product – regardless of the fact it is not at all like smoking. He said that,
“the thing I enjoy most about smoking is the ritual of it all, the time to myself, the physical action. In the brief time I tried the MONQ, it was a surprisingly apt alternative to cigarettes. Offering me the same physical action as smoking, with a similar visible result. The taste was enjoyable and I feel were I to look to quit smoking, MONQ is the first thing I’d use.”
So while there have been no advertisements made by the company itself that it could be used as an aid to quit smoking, it seems like an interesting way of going about it. Containing no nicotine or tobacco, it would be a way of replacing the ‘ritual’ of smoking, but with the healthy upsides of shirin-yoku.
My conclusion to this review of MONQ: I think they are worth trying. They are $20 each – which, at time of writing, the exchange rate made them £16.41. Part of the problem is that they are based in the US, which means shipping costs add up – being $14.99 for one. As they expand more towards Europe, hopefully these costs can reduce, but for now it may be worth bulk buying with friends as orders over $60 have free international delivery. Past the cost effectiveness of the product, they are an interesting item that I would assume would be popular with those who already enjoy using essential oils and who live in cities where nature is limited. They are expensive and they do run out, but they are a well-designed and well-executed product, perfect for a range of people. You can buy them here.
Disclaimer: The Panoptic received this product for free in exchange for an impartial and non-biased review.