Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Knew - Cypress

It isn't often that I get blind-sided about the uses or properties of a "classic" essential oil.  But I recently was.    

In an email discussion with my French Mentor and sometimes supplier about an oil I had never experienced. I asked what it is used for.  "As a substitute for Cypress when you don't want the hormonal effects."   "WHAT hormonal effects???"   This casual comment by my friend lead to a LOT of research.   

Google is not much help.  Googling "hormonal effects of Cypress Essential Oil" brings up blank. Remove the quotes and one finds a LOT of information about Clary Sage and Geranium, etc.   So I turned to my library.

And yes, Sylla Shappard-Hanger, in The Aromatherapy Practitioner's Reference Manual does mention "can act as female hormone stimulant" but she questions that information.  She also states "induces menstruation, eases painful periods, menopausal hot flashes & tension, cramps, PMS, regulates menstrual cycle."  

Who KNEW???  not me!

More reading (picture me pulling books off shelves, checking indexes, discarding or frantically checking pages...nothing.)

AHA..  Maria Lis-Balchin, in Aromatherapy Science, A guide for healthcare professionals, says that "There are virtually no bioactivity data available for this essential oil, and herbal usage, which is mainly using the water-soluble component and, at best, an alcoholic extract containing very little essential oil can not be taken as an indication of essential oil effects.  There is, therefore, little justification for the use of cypress essential oil in aromatherapy."   hmmmmm

I don't like this answer.  But I do know that very often the herbal uses of a plant are attributed wrongly to the EO.  So...more research. On to the big guns:

Peter Holmes, The Energetics of Western Herbs.  AHA!!!  Page 746:  USE: The most practical, effective administration method for Cypress Tip is the distilled essential oil, followed by the tincture. Both are suitable for internal and topical use.

Holmes goes on to indicate that Cypress Oil regulates menstruation and menopause, increases hormones, that Cypress's comprehensive action - endocrine, neural and tissular- engages in a number of gynecological conditions characterized by blood congestion, fluid congestion and tension.  He recommends its use for heavy periods, intermenstrual bleeding, even for fibroids and cysts, endometritis, and for gynecological conditions arising from emotional causes.

He recommends either internal uses (1 to 3 drops in a gel cap, topped off with some Olive Oil, or the use of a homemade pessarie.)  I may give directions for those another day; right now I am off to rewrite our online description of Cypress Essential Oil.  Who knew?

Who  knew?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Clean hands and allergies

We recently shared with our Facebook friends a study released by Johns Hopkins Children's Center, indicating that frequent use of Triclosan, a common antibacterial ingredient in hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, mouthwashes, and toothpaste, has been linked to increasing allergies in children.  Frequent exposure to the various parabens was also cited.

The results of the study didn't seem to indicate that the Triclosan or parabens were directly linked to the allergies in a cause and effect relationship, but higher urine levels of these products (indicating that the body has absorbed and is excreting more of the chemicals) seemed directly linked to higher allergy markers in the bloodstream.

 If you are concerned about the overuse of these chemicals in your child's environment (or in your environment!) you might want to consider using our KleenHandz Gel.

Our Mercy Gel is laboratory tested to kill MRSA bacteria in vitro, in a petri dish.  Years ago I read of a case study in an elementary school.  Ravintsara, in aloe gel, used  three times a day by all the children in one classroom.  A dab of the gel on their hands when they entered the classroom,  when they lined up to go to lunch, and before leaving for the school bus in the afternoon.  The absenteeism rate in that one class room was dramatically lower than that of the school as a whole.

We combined the two concepts above, adding our gentler antiviral essential oil, Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) from Madagascar to our Mercy Treatment Gel.

We can't call it a hand sanitizer.  There are all sorts of governmental regulations and testing that must be done to use that term.  So we call it "Kleen Handz."   Most hand sanitizers have an alcohol base. Alcohol is effective, but also dries your hands.  Kleen Handz gentle aloe vera base soothes your hands, while Lavender and Tea Tree kill bacteria and Ravintsara repels viruses.

It's a more natural alternative to keeping your family germ free.

One consideration.  The results of the study above may be related to what is called the "hygiene hypothesis".... the theory that too much cleanliness, too little exposure to normal environmental pathogens may be what is disrupting children's immune systems and causing the geometric increase in childhood allergies in developed countries today.  In trying to keep our children germ free and safe from all possible bacteria we are preventing their immune systems from developing as Mother Nature intended.

With that in mind, this Grandma says "let them get dirty"... but use Kleen Handz afterwards! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Citrus Cooler (and other goodies)

Just received email from a young woman complaining of extraordinarily dry skin who mentioned in an aside that she's "not a water drinker."  I hear that a lot, often from people discussing dry or itchy skin conditions. Since dry skin needs treating from the inside to encourage people to drink more water?

My daughter puts a splash of any of our lemony hydrosols in a bottle (or glass) of cold water. I think her favorite is Lemongrass,  but Melissa or Lemon Verbena would work well.  I tend to add a splash of Peppermint or Spearmint Hydrosol. The freshness of mint quenches thirst like nothing else I know.

I came across this recipe a few days ago on my favorite recipe site:     It is NOT a "fruit tea" or an "Iced Tea"... it is a delightfully refreshing flavored water, combining the flavors of Bergamot, Orange, and a hint of Rose.

Citrus Cooler: Original Recipe Yields 1/2 gallon


1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 medium orange, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon rose water (Rose Hydrosol)


Prepare a strong cup of tea with the Earl Grey, letting the bag steep for 3 to 5 minutes. (If you let it steep over 5 minutes it can develop a bitter taste, I try to keep it to 3 to 4 minutes.)

Place the orange slices, sugar, rose water, and tea into a 1/2 gallon pitcher. Fill with cold water, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
 Refrigerate, enjoy!
One reader commented that she had a Blood Orange and used that - gave a wonderful rosy color to the drink. 

Plus...what I had for Breakfast -

I had some Croissants that needed eating up.  And, for Memorial Day I had blended up some Cheese Butter, a recipe I brought home from the hotel dining room at the last AIA conference.  It was on the dinner table ever night we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant.  It was addictive.  I could have been perfectly happy with bread, this butter, and dessert.  So, homemade strawberry jam and cheese butter, on croissants, with Hazelnut coffee.  Yes indeedy!

So you may have your own:

Goatcheese Butter:

let warm to room temperature:

4 ounces (one stick) real butter
4 ounces Cream Cheese
4 ounces Goat Cheese.

Beat together until light and fluffy.  Spread on bread, gourmet crackers, bagels, I'm thinking it might do wonderful things to a baked potato.

My Daughter-in-Law took the recipe home, which means it's worth sharing. (And, yes, it relates to aromatherapy since I first tasted it at the AIA convention.)

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just because something is Natural, does not mean it is Safe

By Christi Pugh
For Nature’s Gift

Might I stand on my soap box for a moment?  Not to embarrass or call anyone out, because we are all continually learning the amazing benefits of essential oils the healing practice of aromatherapy & quite honestly, I am a bit frustrated at the moment.

At Nature’s Gift, Marge has wonderfully taught me many things over the past seven years, & most importantly it is to respect the awesome power of essential oils when you are using them, i.e. SAFETY.  You cannot imagine how often we hear someone (wrongly) say, “Well, it is natural after all, so it must be safe.”  No, that is not ever the case.  Not with oils, not with tinctures, not with herbs, or homeopathic remedies.  There is always the chance someone could be allergic, have an idiosyncratic reaction, develop sensitization, or cause themselves, others, or their pets great harm by improper use of essential oils. 

Recently, we’ve heard from several different individuals wanting to formulate their own eo insect repellant for dogs & they want to use oils like Peppermint, Sweet Orange, Dalmatian Sage, (you name it!), & it is crazymaking!  Some of these folks are planning to sell the products on the market.  Now we could make an easy sale but time & again we send business elsewhere by pointing out that either the oil they are thinking of using in their blend is unsafe or inappropriate for the use they are considering.  This occurs with any number of blends you could think of for any purpose.  Citrus oils for a “natural” deodorant—yikes!  (it is phototoxic & irritating!) 

I am not suggesting everyone be an expert, but if you are using essential oils, some amount of study & research is pertinent for your safety & those around you.  We try really hard to make accurate & detailed information available on the website.  As some clients have said to me, “I spend hours on the website, just reading & learning!”  We love to hear that, too!  We try really hard to cite our sources for the information we share from respected leaders in the industry such as Kurt Schnaubelt, Robert Tisserand, & many others. 

I suspect some of the calls we receive are from individuals who never order from us but see us in a google search after the google search that told them to use peppermint on dogs (erroneously) & call us to pick our brain rather than doing their own research.  They won’t even take the time to read what is on our website which is obviously well researched & thought out, because they are trying to cut corners, & in my opinion, “know just enough to be dangerous.”

We participate regularly in continuing education through NAHA, AIA, & other respected courses in order to help educate ourselves & our clients & of course we always pass the valuable information & research we learn on to you! We are constantly learning on this incredible journey.  And we learn from all of you as well with the questions you ask & the feedback you provide concerning your own experiences & knowledge.

Important phrases to remember:  “Less is more, & always err on the side of caution,” when working with essential oils.  Marge is sensitized to Lavender.  I am sensitized to any oil with high eugenol content after our Holy Basil “explosion.”  Anyone of us can become sensitized at any time if enough thought & care is not put into our usage. 

Okay, I will get off the soap box for now & hope you understand where I am coming from.  I want to see more people benefitting from aromatherapy & experiencing healing through these incredible natural oils.  However, without a healthy respect for their power, I worry those who use them improperly will not only harm themselves, but the community as a whole.  Someone once said, “Knowledge is power!”

In familiarizing oneself with the practical uses of any specific oil, it is also key to become aware of any cautions or warnings. For example: Melissa is reported to be helpful with viral infections like cold sores. However, Melissa is a known sensitizer. So obviously dilution at the proper levels is necessary. After all, would you ride a motorcycle without a helmet or drive a car without a seatbelt?"

End of Christi’s rant.

Marge’s comment:  I believe this was prompted by an inquiry on Facebook this morning. A woman had purchased Peppermint and Lavender oils to use on her Pomeranian. (Memories of my 5 lb Pom, Max.  I used ‘baby safe” dilutions and ‘baby safe’ oils on him.)   Now, I am not criticizing THIS reader.  She did some research, realized the oils should be diluted, and asked for help.   But the shop where she purchased them told her “a lot of people are buying these to use on their pups and dogs."   The new friend asking is concerned that some innocent animals may be harmed. She's right. The thought of using undiluted Peppermint, or ANY undiluted oil on an innocent animal is horrifying.