Saturday, October 12, 2019

“What’s Wrong with Marge?”

While displaying a selection of Nature’s Gift oils at the recent Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) conference, I felt a touch on my shoulder. The customer’s face was concerned, and her tone was gentle.

“Marge, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

I smiled inside because I thought I knew what was coming.  “Do you have Parkinson’s disease?”  (I was right!)   I replied “No, it’s not that”.

Now, this customer was not the first to approach me with the same question. (Some of you have heard of my personal rule of thumb: ask a question three times…then we need to blog about it!)

 So here it is…I have benign familial tremor, also called
essential tremor.

As we chatted, I passed the customer’s credit card to the ladies who accompany me to conferences. My hand tremors make it hard for me to swipe a card through the Square reader, so I appreciate their help completing transactions.  As I passed the customer’s card back to her, she had another question: “Can nothing be done to help you?”

I thought for a moment. Essential tremor tends to run in families (as it does in mine) but the exact cause is unknown. My older brother’s tremor is totally under control with a medication that does nothing for me….some meds have helped slightly, but not much. The worst part for me is what’s called a “core tremor”. It affects my voice severely and makes my head shake as well as my hands.  It’s frustrating, since I REALLY love doing Facebook live videos...but the tremor makes my voice almost indecipherable.

Anyway, back to the customer’s question.  “Can nothing be done to help?”  All of a sudden my reply just popped out: “Sometimes, there’s just NOT an oil for that!” (and we laughed.)

“Sometimes, there’s just NOT an oil for that!”


At the wonderful AIA conference, we learned (among many things) about the supportive role essential oils play in wound care, lymphedema, and cancer treatment.  But something many speakers said deeply resonated with me: “Even if you can’t help with physical symptoms, with aromatherapy, you can ALWAYS support the emotional ones.”  My teacher from Jane Buckle’s CCAP course has always said something similar: “When in doubt, treat for stress.”

Where aromatherapy SHINES for my essential tremor is the support it gives fighting fatigue, stress, sleeplessness and worry, for these things always make my tremors worse. The AIA conference ran from 8 AM-6 PM daily…then afterwards, there were dinners, meetings, and gala events. Every night I fell into bed exhausted! In the "oh too early mornings," a little bleary-eyed, I turned to a favorite blend I inhale when my energy starts flagging: 
Focus, a blend of Basil, which is the best mental stimulant I know of, Clove Bud, Lemon, Peppermint, Pine, Rosemary, and Vetiver for grounding. Another wonderful discovery at our booth was inhaling our new Rosemary ct Cineole CO2. What a wonderful morning aroma!

When it’s critical for me to be sharp and focused, I prefer Fog Cutter, a blend of sparkling Grapefruit with a coniferous base of Cypress, which seems to clear the mental fog and energize me to get up and moving. Years ago I named it my SuperWoman blend.

My signature blend for anxiety, Reunité, is made with rare
Neroli, grounding Vetiver, uplifting Bitter Orange, and touches of Sandalwood, Petitgrain, and Frankincense. It’s a personal blend I wore for years in situations which were apt to induce anxiety or panic attacks. Its calming essence allowed me to breeze through situations which used to overwhelm me.

Many conference attendees who stopped by our exhibit mentioned they were having trouble sleeping because of not being in their own beds, plus their brains had trouble ‘shutting down’ after a long stimulating day. For those nights when your mind simply won’t hush and let you relax into sleep, I suggest 
Sleep Ease, a blend of Lavandin Super (according to Dr. Jane Buckle, more relaxing than Lavandula angustifolia),  Sweet Marjoram, Green Mandarine (our most relaxing Citrus oil) and Roman Chamomile.


Mary Monteiro, a Canadian aromatherapist and owner of Breathe Naturals, shared with me a blend she’s used for essential tremor. (I am reminded once more of the generous spirits we meet in this profession I love.  Mary did *not* have to reach out and share her blend with me. Bless her generous heart!)

Mary uses a 5% dilution, in 10 mls of Hempseed oil and 20 mls of Jojoba.

Clary Sage        8 drops
Lavender        7 drops
Sweet Marjoram    10 drops
Copaiba Balsam    3 drops
Vetiver            2 drops

She applies this blend topically to the back of her neck and lower head; sometimes she does use an inhaler, but finds the topical application more effective.

Topical use would not work for me; I’m sensitized to components in the top three oils. Not deterred, we set out to make an aromastick/personal inhaler.  Cutting the Lavender way back, we also used equal parts of steam distilled Sweet Marjoram and Sweet Marjoram CO2. 

The aroma is lovely; I think it helps some.  While the blend doesn’t make the tremor go away, it helps moderate it a bit.  Pleased with the results, I asked Jim to make up several inhalers for me (for home, car, and office) so I would always have one handy. 

So….now you know “what’s wrong with Marge”!  Living with this condition is often frustrating. Sometimes I handle it with grace, and other times...well, not so much!  Traveling to and from conferences can make my condition flare…not sleeping in my own comfy bed, hours explaining 30 years of passion for essential oils, and my brain being a “thirsty little sponge” soaking up lots of new and exciting research…it can all add up.  While there might not be an oil for everything, my beloved essential oils soothe and protect, support and encourage me. Can anyone ask for more than that?  I think not.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Things I Learned - Buddha Wood CO2

I was first introduced to Buddha Wood CO2 in another CO2 course perhaps two years ago, and was taught that its primary benefit was as an insecticide/repellant, primarily against the travelers' bane - bed-bugs.   And so I described it.

Earlier this month I learned so much more about it, in Madeleine Kerkhof's CO2s for Clinical CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy,  and frankly was a bit concerned that the three-day course would be a repeat of what I had already learned. I was SO wrong, and as time allows I will be updating our product descriptions with new information and sharing what I've learned here.
Aromatherapy course, in Washington D.C.   Now, I have (and make available) Madeleine's book,

But let's start with Buddha Wood. Aromatically, it's a lovely wood oil, deeper and a bit darker than most Sandalwoods.  A must for any wood lover. And of course there is that bedbug thing.

Emotional uses:

Did I ever dream that Buddha Wood would be useful emotionally?  No!
Madeleine taught us that Buddha Wood (Ermephila mitchelli) is useful for:
  • Stress, tensions, frustration, anger, agitation, hyperactivity and general feelings of restlessness
  • Sleep Issues
  • Meditation and mindfulness or relaxation exercises
  • Existential questions and transitions
She especially stressed its use for transitions, and for sleep issues.  (I made a note to try with Petitgrain Bigarade which is one of the oils I use when my mind is racing and not letting me sleep.)

She also mentioned Copaiba Balsam essential oil as a substitute or complement for Buddha Wood for these issues, and for family trauma.

Later in class she mentioned that Buddha Wood CO2 is one of her favorite oils for stress and for sleep problems.  (I would assume those caused by stress!)

 Skincare uses:

Madeleine taught us that Buddha Wood is very useful for topical wound care, perhaps as a substitute for Myrrh, with similar actions. She uses it for:
  • irritated skin, inflammation, bed sores
  • chapped rough and cracked skin, scars and burns
  • Diaper Rash and moisture lesions
  • and...    back to where I started...   as an insect repellant! 
Later in class she mentioned Buddha Wood CO2 as one of her favorite additives to blends for red, irritated skin, and for wounds and scars.

At one time during the class, Madeleine divided us into teams, and paired us with people from across the room, not the friends we were sitting with. We were to give our partner an issue that we were struggling with, and, with the CO2s available, they were to create an inhaler or a topical application.

Mine was my tendency to wake up after sleeping perhaps 3 hours, and have my mind racing with tomorrow and next week's "to do lists."  I find Petitgrain Bigarade, from Italy, wonderfully helpful for that, but don't want to rely on the same oil all the time.

My "Lab Partner" was Ken Miller, someone I have met and sat in class with several times, but have never worked directly with.  Ken created a "Back to Sleep" inhaler for me, which is absolutely lovely, and *very* effective:

Back to Sleep

3 drops Sweet Marjoram CO2  (I know that is wonderful for sleep issues)
3 drops Myrrh CO2  (that was a surprise, and not one I would have reached for)
3 drops Buddha Wood CO2  (see above... stress, tension)
1 drop LemonBalm CO2 Total, which, unfortunately, no producer I trust is producing any more. If they do, of course we will order some.  In the meantime, I think a single drop of Melissa distilled, 10% dilution would be a good substitute.  The CO2 seems much milder and softer than the distilled oil, and I think a whole drop of distilled Melissa would overwhelm the other oils in the blend.

Pleasant Dreams!

(Ken is a well trained clinician who does remote consultations.   You may reach him at Whole Aromatherapies.)