Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Days 3, 4 and 5

I've been behind on listing the winners on our 12 days gifts... my out of town Grandchildren are here! There are much more important (and fun!) things to do than write in a blog.

At any rate... the winners for days three through five are: (can you hear the drumroll?)

On day three, the 27th, Shelley Ureel, of Kingman AZ, was chosen to receive a gold deluxe personal inhaler.

On the following day, Sharon Tobiason, of Destin FL, received a tiny bottle of Bulgarian Rose Otto 10%. (Our very last remaining smidge, other than my personal stash, of course!)

And on the fifth day of Christmas, December 29th, Lauri Dixon from Portland will be receiving an Aromastone diffuser.

Thanks to the winners, and all of our other clients who are patient enough to wait until we finish tallying inventory for their orders to arrive!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas - Day Two

On the Second Day of Christmas, the 26th, (Boxing Day or St. Stephen's Day for our British readers), John Lee, of Danville, CA was chosen to receive an Indian Treasure Box, hand carved of Rosewood.

Happy Boxing Day, John!

Friday, December 26, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

Most of you know that during the 12 days of Christmas, from the 25th through January 5th, we give gifts to our clients. Every day one order is selected to receive a special gift.

Among the orders placed on Christmas Day, Karen Redmon of Saucier, MS was chosen to receive a copy of my book, Essential Oils and Aromatics. Merry Christmas, Karen!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Arlington at Christmas

Somehow this bittersweet story, that shows the generosity of spirit that still exists in this world, strikes me as an appropriate Christmas Eve post. A friend sent it via email, and I've verified it at Snopes. (The urban legend myth-buster.) 'Tis true, my friends.

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths -- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. Of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fast and Easy Christmas Candy

You've said you like my 'fast and dirty' recipes... I first had this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark at my daugher-in-law's mother's house one Christmas morning brunch. Yummy, and FAR too easy!

The classic recipe calls for

2 lbs white chocolate. (PLEASE use real white chocolate... the first ingredient in the list must be cocoa butter. If it's not...put it back on the grocery shelf.) And the so called "almond bark" that's offered looks like white chocolate, but it has a good amount of paraffin in it and leaves your mouth feeling waxy...oddly enough.

Enough Candy Canes (or red and white peppermint candies) to give you a cup if you coarsely chop them.

Obviously you can use less of everything. I had in the house, and used:

7 ounces of White chocolate
12 Oz White chocolate chips.

and three medium sized candy canes. (They were three for a dollar, that's why three.)

and...for my version... the KEY... our Midwestern Peppermint Oil (the one that I say is sweet as candy, remember?) I used ONE ml for this amount of chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler if you have one, or a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. While it is melting, put the candy canes inside a HEAVY plastic bag, put that bag inside a second bag, and crush the candy with a hammer, a rolling pin, a heavy skillet...whatever striking instrument you have at hand.

Line a jelly roll pan or BIG cookie sheet with waxed paper or baking parchment.

When the white chocolate is melted, pour in the crushed peppermint, the one ml (approx 20 drops) of peppermint essential oil, stir well. Pour it onto the paper lined pan and spread it as thinly as you can.

EITHER... put the pan in the refrigerator at this point and let it sit for an hour or until hard

OR... while waiting for the white chocolate to set up, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with a pat of butter, and swirl bits of this over the white chocolate. Smear that around a bit to marble the dark chocolate over the white.

THEN refrigerate the pan for an hour...or put it freezer for perhaps 20 minutes.

Once it's cold...break or cut into random chunks, put in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

The cook gets to lick the meling pan and the spatula.


Very addictive.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Virgin Coconut Oil (or, a Cat named Marge)

I enjoy P. Allen Smith's gardening newsletter. I copy his recipes, and sometimes borrow his weekly quotes for our "Quote of the Month"

I'm not really sure of my reaction to his naming his striped cat Marge, and giving her her own column on his website, tho. Seeing an article entitled "Marge Says, "Yum! Coconut oil..." startled me immensely, because although I sometimes saute things in our Virgin Coconut Oil, I've never tried it "unadorned" or tried feeding it to either Max or BlueKitty. After reading the following, though, I may try. I have to admit that their Marge certainly seems to be a charmer. And has excellent taste in coconut!

Quoting from the article: "My cat Marge was “thumbing” through a health book and discovered her new favorite treat – organic, virgin coconut oil. This isn’t the villainous hydrogenated coconut oil that contains trans-fats. Organic, virgin coconut oil has been the darling of health conscious people for several years and now Marge has discovered it. Not only is it good for people, but pets too. She’s so excited she wanted to share the news with her friends....." more

A note... for all sorts of legalistic reasons, our products are all "for external use only." We market our Virgin Coconut Oil for skin and hair care. However, I cook with it, and intend to try feeding a smidgeon of it to my furfamily.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunshine Honey Recipe

Came across a recipe in the new Aromatherapy Today that sounded yummy, but made WAY too much. (The original called for a full gallon of Honey... which might work if you wanted to make a whole lot of gifts, otherwise you'd be eating it forever.(

So I cut it down to a more manageable size.

8 fluid ounces Honey (or 240 ml)

Divide the honey roughly in half.

To the half in the mixing bowl add:

9 drops Organic cold pressed Bergamot Essential Oil
10 drops Organic Cold Pressed Lemon Essential Oil
13 drops Organic Sweet Orange or Blood Orange Essential oil
3 drops Organic Cardamom (or Cardamon) Seed Essential Oil.

Blend the essential oils into the smaller portion of honey, then gradually stir in the remaining honey until very well blended.

This sunny citrus flavored honey is wonderful in tea, on top of biscuits or toast, I'm thinking gingerbread... almost any place you would like the blend of sparkling citrus with a touch of gentle spice.

I'm going to try adding a drop of nutmeg essential oil, as well.

Actually, making a gallon of this, and pouring into sterilized canning jars for holiday gifts would have been a good idea....


(And there is a reason that I specify Organics on all of the cold pressed citrus oils... think about when they spray the fruit groves with pesticides...where do the chemicals land? On the surface of the fruit, of course, to be cold pressed right into your essential oil. That's why we offer only organic citrus rind oils.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

People just baffle me!

They really do.

I never EVER shop at a website without first checking out their "Clearance/Bargain/Special Sale" pages. Even if I go to that specific site to purchase one specific product, I always look to see what is on sale. Because you never know, and I *love* to save money. I always wait to order from my favorite packaging supplier until I receive her weekly "what's on sale this week" flyer. I wouldn't want to order the day before it goes on sale!

So... it seems to me... that the BEST place to get everyone's attention would be at the top of the specials page. Especially if what I want to get their attention about is a special promotional code that will save them money.

It is downright amazing how many people never visit that page. Of course they are, in most cases, spending 10% more than they would if they had the code. So I shouldn't complain.

But it still baffles me. Are Christi, T and I the only bargain hunters left in the world?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Unbelievable Christmas Cookies

For the noncook -

I stopped by a friend's house today, and she urged me to take home a bag of homemade cookies. Now, this woman does not cook. Most definitely she doesn't bake. And I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cookies. They had best be extraordinary, or they aren't worth the calories. And, in all honesty, they didn't look extraordinary. And she said they had peanut butter. I'm not a big fan of peanut butter cookies. But, I am polite. I said "thank you" and took a small bag.

They sat on my countertop most of the day looking at me, trying to make me feel guilty.

Finally I tried one.

In the interests of science, I had to eat them all, while figuring out how they were made.

Crackers, not Ritz, because they are oval. Perhaps Keebler's Town House? A buttery, salty cracker, not a saltine type. Two crackers, sandwiched together with creamy peanut butter, and dipped in melted white chocolate.

OH my! The mix of salty cracker, peanutbutter, and white chocolate is amazing!

Even if you DO bake, and CAN make all sorts of wonderfully involved traditional Christmas cookies... make some of these too.

And to think I almost didn't try some. "contempt prior to investigation" and all that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sometimes you just can't win!

People have been asking how to create the popular Reed Diffusers, using our oils and a natural dispersant. My answer has always been, I don't think you can.

But I saw this suggestion somewhere on a list. Dilute the essential oil into Polysorbate, add distilled water, and voila. I was going to post this suggestion, but thought "I need to try this first."

Ordered some reeds. With shipping, they became really expensive reeds. Didn't know I could have bought them in a local craft shop.

Came home, with my reeds, some Polysorbate 20, a bottle of Balsam Fir essential oil (yes, I want it to smell like a Christmas Tree!) and remembered that the reed diffusers are always in a very small necked bottle. (To prevent evaporation? I guess.)

Well, I had this lovely vase. A gift from someone. Lead Crystal. Shaped like a small ball, with a VERY slim opening to a V shape above the circle. I should take a picture, but the camera is at work. Anyway; added the polysorbate, added the Balsam Fir oil, and dribbled in distilled water.

Uh-oh...it's cloudy. Smells wonderful, but it's cloudy. Obviously one needs an opaque bottle or vase. But, I thought, perhaps if it stands, the cloudiness will clear.

So I set the experiment in the middle of my dining room table, and left the house.

Came home to find the whole front of the house wonderfully aromatic, smelling of fresh fir boughs. GREAT! It works! Went to look at the experiment.

Obviously BlueKitty, my very small once feral grey cat was intrigued by the experiment.

No, the vase did not break. It's very sturdy crystal. But the place mats on the table are totally soaked. And the vase was, unfortunately, standing within a few inches of a pair of Rosenthal china salt and pepper shakers, part of a set of china that we bought in Germany about 40 years ago.

It landed on the pepper shaker, and broke just a "corner" of the top off.

Rosenthal no longer makes salt and pepper shakers in "Maria - Blue Garland"... even the china replacement companies don't list them. They make dinner plates. This is a picture of one, snipped from www.replacements.com. Thank goodness she didn't break one of THEM!

Sometimes testing out ideas before putting them in the newsletter gets very complicated indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts on Holiday shopping, and avoiding the mall

Two weeks ago my vacuum cleaner started smoking. It was suggested that perhaps a replacement was due. So, I did what I always do. Went to http://www.consumerreports.org/ and checked out the best buys, the best quality, etc. Chose what I thought I wanted, and started shopping.

Went to one of my favorite "great price/great service" places, and started an order. Got interrupted. Later went to Amazon.com to check on some videos for my grandson.

And found my vacuum cleaner for $100 less...with free shipping and no sales tax. I only regret not logging onto Amazon through our affiliate link, so Nature's Gift would have gotten credit for the referral.

SO, for Christmas shopping...for all the presents we can't supply, I'd suggest checking out Amazon. "They aren't just for books any more!" You can find toys for all ages, music favorites at bargain prices (while browsing, I had to order The Ultimate Waylon Jennings and the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album that I missed the first time around!), organic hot chocolate, Godiva Chocolates, stocking stuffers for your fur-kids, tools for him (or her, I'm reminded!), clothing... (I'm looking at a dress for my youngest grand-daughter but I can't get the link to work to show you. frustrating!) In other words...something for everyone on your list.
(Yes, we are Amazon affiliates and if you choose to click on one of those links and order something from Amazon -whether it's something we suggested or not- we may get a few cents commission.) But... it's also a great way to beat standing in line at the mall!

(I will do almost anything to avoid the mall!!!)

And if you DO shop via one of our links, we thank you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Special for Blog Readers ONLY

A never before special sale, just for the readers of our blog. (Just to say "Thank you!")
From now until Sunday Evening (Nov 23) receive a 10% discount on all the books listed on our "Special Books" page.

A special promotional code, just for you! At checkout, enter the word "reader" (without the quotation marks!) in the box marked "gift certificate/promo code" and you will see a 10% discount on the cost of any/all of our rare and special hard to find books. We have never discounted them, no "normal" Nature's Gift promotional codes ever apply to them, so this is truly a once in a lifetime savings.

Among the books listed are:

The Blossoming Heart - Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation by Robbi Zeck, N.D.
Essential Oils and Aromatics: A Step-by-Step Guide for Use in Massage and Aromatherapy by Marge Clark
The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia
Liquid Sunshine - Vegetable Oils for Aromatherapy by Jan Kusmirek
The Aromatherapy Practitioners Reference Manual by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger
Introduction to Aromatherapy Booklet by Marge Clark
Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, first edition by Gabriel Mojay
The 'm' Technique® DVD or Video - Structured Touch, by R. Jane Buckle, PhD, RN

You will see the discount applied before you enter your credit card information. Please don't submit the order if you don't see the discount, we will not be able to apply it retroactively.

Lavender Research

I've always known that Lavender angustifolia was relaxing...it's one of the most useful "sleep inducing" essential oils. But recent literature shows it's use for dealing with stress and anxiety.

A recent issue of the Intl Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy cites a study in which Lavender essential oil baths were studied to see their effects on stress and anxiety.

Two groups were studied, each committing to taking a warm water bath daily at approximately the same time for 14 days. One group used grapeseed oil in their bath, the other used a blend of lavender and grapeseed oil.

Prior to testing, all individuals were scored on tests for "Life Satisfaction", Perceived Stress, and both State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety. (State Anxiety results from current situations that are stressful, Trait Anxiety tends to indicate a longer term Anxiety, perhaps being prone to anxiety, rather than an immediate reaction to an anxiety producing situation.)

After the two week test period, results showed that both types of baths gave lower Perceived Stress scores. However, it appears that the lavender group started out with higher Perceived Stress Levels, and finished the study with lower levels...in other words, the level of percieved stress dropped more dramatically with the use of Lavender.

State anxiety, also was lower for both groups, but the State Anxiety level was significantly lower for those who had participated in the Lavender baths.

Study results indicate that the use of Lavender baths is a viable treatment for mild stress and anxiety, and may be a useful adjunct to other therapies in dealing with severe cases.

At the very least it offers us a relatively inexpensive and reliable method of self care!

Another Study - the one we funded for the American Holistic Nurses Association, last year involved testing the use of Lavender and/or Rosemary essential oils to reduce test taking anxiety and stress in graduate nursing students.

From the data gathered during this study, the researcher concluded that both lavender and rosemary have some effect on test anxiety in graduate nursing students. What I found most fascinating (but not surprising!) was the focus group interviews after the study.

The general consensus among focus group participants was that the lavender was pleasant however; some felt it relaxed them too much and they were less able to concentrate on the test material and were less able to “dredge up” the correct answers. Another group actually felt that the lavender caused them agitation because they were fighting to be alert and the lavender was fighting to relax them. All of the focus group participants liked the rosemary and said that it was a very warm earthy aroma that increased their ability to “dredge up” the answer to the
questions on the test from their memory. They stated that the rosemary seemed to clear their heads and make things clearer where the lavender made things more relaxed and even fuzzy.

To my this result seems totally predictable. Of course the lavender would relax the students, and allay anxiety. But it's almost sedating action is bound to interfere with the mental concentration needed to perform well on an exam. Rosemary, on the other hand, is known for intensifying mental clarity and focus. Shakespeare even said "Rosemary for Remembrance."

For whatever it is worth, the researcher did not mention the species of oils used in the second research paper. The Lavender used was Lavendula angustifolia, var Mailette and Rosmarinus officianalis ch Cineole. (IE our Lavender Mailette and Rosemary Cineole, both organic from France.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

A gift in my Computer

Somewhere this week I came across a link that I clicked on out of idle curiousity... www.pandora.com. Thoughts of Pandora's Box filled my mind, but I clicked anyway. (Feeling bold and exploratory, I was!)

And I found the most wonderful font of online music.

Not a 'download this song' to your MP3 player (I don't have one!) or your hard drive... but an interesting concept. Enter a single song name, or an artist you love...or better yet, a song by an artist. First they will play a similar song by the same artist. (Not your request, but a substitute, for complicated legal reasons.) Then they will find other songs that in their computer seem to "fit" with your first selection. If they choose wrong, you may cancel it and start over. Just tell them "that's not what I meant." and they'll come up with other suggestions. Or you can start over. I've listened to 60's folk, to Waylon and Willie, to Indian flutes.

A few minutes ago I entered "Clannard" and I'm listening to wonderful soft vocals and... well... If you can't find something you enjoy here, then you just should go watch TV or something.

The programing is based on the The Music Genome Project (tm). (I was going to explain what that is...but they do it better than I could.

At any rate, it's a pure delightful listening experience. ENJOY!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Postit Note - "Perseverance"

Last year, one of our distillers sent us an absolutely stunning monthly calendar. Huge thing, with, for each month, a stunning picture of some natural scene and a short "inspirational" quote.

Because it is so lovely, I chose to hang it in the break room, where everyone could enjoy it. Unfortunately, we ended up hanging it on a wall that doesn't get looked at as often as it should. So sometimes we are a bit late turning to the new month. (Or sometimes we just enjoy last month's picture so much we are reluctant to turn the page.) At any rate, we just this week turned from October to November.

Now, these calendars had to be designed at least two years ago in order for them to be received in time for last year's holiday season. What kind of prescience did someone have that they *knew* in advance that the economy of our country, and perhaps that of the whole world is in a sometimes frightening (if we allow it to be) downward spiral.

As I sit here trying to project how much product to prepare, how many orders to place for this so far dreadfully slow fourth quarter... the calendar reads:

Perseverance - At times like these it is helpful to remember
That there have always been
Times like these.

Thank you! A good reminder. Perhaps I am not the only one who needs to be reminded.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cistus? Labdanum? aha!

I love it when something I've never quite been able to wrap my brain around suddenly makes sense. The "Aha Moment"

For years I just rather assumed that Cistus Essential Oil was distilled from the leaves of the RockRose plant (cistus ladinifer). and that Labdanum absolute was solvent extracted from the same botanical. Or, maybe that cistus essential oil was distilled from the resin of the above named plant, and the absolute from the same substance.

Until I realized that my producer offered not only Cistus essential oil AND Labdanum Absolute but also a Cistus Absolute. Ooooooooooops. That totally confused me.

Obviously Cistus Absolute and Labdanum absolute weren't the same thing (since there is quite a difference in price.) but??? confusion reigned supreme.

Finally, after much material being sent me, and many questions back and forth by email, I finally wrapped my brain around it.

The shrub commonly known as Rock Rose (but known as "Christ's Tears" in Andalusia because of it's five petalled flower, with deep purple spots on each petal, near the center of the blossom) produces a thick, resinous exhudate from the leaves (actually from the whole plant, but mostly from the leaves.) This aromatic resin (called Labdanum!) protects the plant from evaporation.
In ancient times, when goats fed on the leaves of the Cistus shrub, the resin stuck to their beards and was combed out. (Surely they don't still collect it that way?)
Cistus Essential Oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves of the shrub. That makes sense. Yield, by the way, is quite low, normally less than 1% of the weight of the botanical.

but the resin? the absolute? If the essential oil is distilled from the leaves, where does the resin come from? and the absolute? Cistus Absolute is extracted from the leaves. Okay...what is the difference between Cistus Absolute and Labdanum Absolute. Still scratching my head here.

The leaves of the plant (obviously not the same leaves that have been steam distilled to produce the oil!) are soaked in warm carbonated water. Since carbonated water is fairly acidic, the acid solution causes the raw resinoid to separate from the leaves, so that it may be collected from the water bath.

This raw resinoid is then washed with alcohol and concentrated to form what is known as Labdanum Resin. (Wonderfully aromatic stuff, almost solid, and totally impossible to dissolve in carrier oil. I know. We tried.)

This resin is far more concentrated than the essential oil derived from the leaves.

The resin is further processed (washed with Ethanol) to produce the Absolute, which, fortunately for us, is soluble in carrier oil. AH... Cistus is from the leaves, which produce *some* resin. Labdanum is the resin itself, and Labdanum Absolute is extracted from the resin itself. Which is why it is so much more aromatic, more intense.

There may be some other natural botanical which gives the amber note found in the various cistus products, but I've not encountered any.

Cistus Essential Oil is sweetly balsamic, with amber notes. Our Labdanum absolute, on the other hand, is deeper, darker, almost animalic. It would be superb in any leather blend, add depth to amber blends, and, of course, is the basic necessity for any chypre based accords for the perfumers.

I am so glad I finally got that one straight!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Radiation Treatment - Lumpectomy

Recently Mary Martin emailed asking for suggestions regarding a tight pulling on her side along her ribs - under the breast where she had had a lumpectomy. The only thing I could think of was our Miracle Blend - because it shouldn't be scar tissue in that spot. But, in case it could be scar tissue (out of place scar tissue!) I also suggested perhaps using rose hip seed oil with or without Helichrysum essential oil.

Mary wrote back after a few weeks:

"I've been rubbing the rosehip seed oil in that area per your suggestion and guess what? the pain and pulling has subsided significantly. I can barely feel it now. Thanks for the suggestion! I was applying rosehip oil to my lumpectomy scar to prevent scar tissue build-up but I would have never thought to apply it UNDERNEATH my breast area!

Mary Martin

P.S. I am saving the miracle blend for my carpal tunnel on my wrist. It works great for that!

When I wrote back, thanking her for the followup and asking if I could quote her, because someone else might have this same problem, she wrote the following:

Hi Marge, By all means, you can quote me!

I also used the Blue Tansy and Heli hydrosols post radiation (immediately after my treatments), along with the Tamanu oil (and I never got burned!).

After radiation, I used the sea buckthorn berry, tamanu oil and the rosehip seed oil directly on the radiated area. My skin really looked and felt ok throughout my treatments and afterwards (I got a "tan" but that was really it) and my oncologist was amazed!

Now, a year post-lumpectomy and post-radiation, I am still using the rosehip seed oil and the tamanu oil directly on my scar. It's faded quite nicely. Even my radiation oncologist said so! Of course, now the rosehip seed oil also seems to have alleviated the pulling underneath my breast as well...Mary

For the record - the suggestions on the Blue Tansy and Helichrysum hydrosols were based on a paper my mentor and friend Sylla Sheppard Hanger presented at a symposium in the year 2000, sharing her experience with dealing with her own radiation treatments.

Sylla used water based dilutions of Helichrysum and Blue Tansy since, at that time, she did not have a reliable source for the hydrosols. She also used fresh aloe vera gel. You may read Sylla's presentation here.

I am a bit concerned about the use of the Calophyllum, or any carrier oil, as it could erase the marks used to "aim" the laser during treatment. Some patients have the marks tattooed on so there can be no risk of them disappearing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blending with Tabac - Tobacco Absolute

Recently on the Botanical Perfumery list at Yahoo someone asked about blending a Tobacco scent...

Eva Marie Lind was gracious enough to send in several suggestions, and gave me permission to share them:

I would try working with some of the notes that Ernest Daltroff made famous in Caron Tabac Blond - orris,vetiver, cedar, patchouli, vanilla, ambergris, musk?

However oftentimes I find 'leather' is the overlapping theme to creating tobacco notes and therein many of the oils overlap/are similar in selection ... labdanum,cedar (moroccan and also virginiana), costus, mastic & calamus (even though there are now some stringencies with these essences) tonka, spikenard, patchouli ... and to add in a bit of the spicy-smokey-floral inference,neroli & ylang ylang (generally the first.)

Also remember that there needs to be a bit of slippery citrus note -not too sweet and not too sour - sweet orange, lemon -even a bit of bergamot could have a nice relationship. Birch tar ~ adding in some tonka, opoponax ... and yes, even some vetiver - and I might even work in a smidge of tuberose if it is spicy and deep enough ~definitely will need a shaving of vanilla, however that could also be utilized through benzoin, styrax ... ? ~em

Interesting ideas, and I thank her for sharing her experience!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Breakfast on the Go

A year or so ago a friend suggested that I add some powdered protein to my diet. (I was going through some stressful situations and losing weight.)

Easiest way? A Smoothie. And they have been part of my daily routine ever since. The crew at work is used to seeing my carry my "liquid breakfast" into the office every morning. Someone asked how I made it... so...here's the routine:

Into the blender add one jar of any type of yogurt you enjoy. (Read the labels on your yogurt...I've found that most of the "Lite" varieties contain Aspartime, and I'd prefer to avoid that.) One scoop of powdered protein. (I don't like to use too much Soy, so I buy the whey-based, but either will work.) Vanilla or unflavored...Chocolate would NOT be good here.

Some juice... I use either orange or one of the White Cranberry varieties, white cranberry and peach, white cranberry and strawberry, something similar. You may or may not toss in a banana at this point.

Blend until smooth. Next comes the real secret. A handful of FROZEN fruit of your choice. Strawberries are wonderful with the above mentioned Banana. Sliced peaches are wonderful with peach juice and yogurt. With the peach I often add a good handful of frozen wild blueberries (a GREAT anti-oxidant...some authorities say blueberries are "brain food" and my brain can use all the feeding it can get!) Frozen Raspberries and Peaches give you peach melba.

With my blender, I have to switch it to highest speed (Liquify) once the fruit goes in. It makes a horrendous racket, but it does blend in the chunks of fruit.

For reasons I don't know, fresh fruit doesn't work quite as well.

I suspect you can use any combination of yogurt flavors, juice and fruit that appeals to you. The smoothie is high in protein, full of vitamins and things that are good for you...and tastes scrumptious.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

I *really* hate ironing!

I truly do. And I don't do it well...instead of turning out perfectly pressed shirts, blouses, whatever, mine always have pressed in creases. So, I'm a great believer in either perma-press clothes, or in the 'natural' look...after all, natural fibers shouldn't be perfect, right?

But I love having ironed sheets and pillowcases. So, for the last few years, I iron my pillowcases. It's worth the trouble to have that nice touch of luxury. (Years ago, in another lifetime and another continent I had a housekeeper who came in once a week. She left our home sparkling, and ironed everything she could find. Sheer luxury!) However...today I'm the ironer..so it's pillowcases only.

And, to add to the luxury, I want my pillowcases to smell of rose, or rose and sandalwood. Awhile ago I made a fabulous linen spray. 6 mls of Polysorbate 20, 2 mls of Rose Otto and 1 ml of Sandalwood essential oil, and distilled water - enough to fill a 4 ounce atomizer bottle. It was rich and lovely and the pillowcases smelled lovely for several days.

I used it all. I have no polysorbate at home, so I decided to fill the steam iron with rose hydrosol instead of distilled water. They are both distilled, right?

The first time I ironed all went well. Two weeks later - today... was another story.

Folks if you ever even think about putting a hydrosol in your steam iron, go take a walk around the block, a cold shower, a good book...anything to take your mind off that idea! Great globs of brown YUCK leaped out of the iron onto my pristine pillow cases. I suppose it will wash out. I hope it will wash out.

There are things I would rather shop for than a new iron. But it might be necessary.

It occurs to me that my mother used to spritz things she was going to iron with water, roll them tightly in a tube, wrap them in something??? (a plastic bag should work well) long enough for the moisture to permeate the fabric, and then iron with a hot iron.

Maybe spritzing them with the rose hydrosol will protect my iron next time?

(I've always been afraid to mist the linens with my linen spray and then iron...don't know if Polysorbate takes to extreme heat well.)

At any rate... there are a zillion uses for our lovely Rose Hydrosol. Filling your steam iron is not one of them!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eucalyptus Citriodora - Antifungal

The latest issue of the Intl. Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics arrived earlier this week. I sometimes get discouraged, because all too often the research articles printed have to do with rare and exotic oils that are not commercially available. This issue, though, has an interesting article about Euc. Citriodora (Lemon Eucalyptus.)

I've always known that Euc. Citriodora was a strong anti-fungal agent, and recommended it for this purpose. A research article shows that Euc. Citriodora is not only powerful against most "conventional" fungi, but it is even more powerful when used (in the laboratory!) against the newer drug resistant mutants of Candida.

Now, if the authors had not suggested that isolating "the active phytoceuticals from the whole oil may provide a valuable antimicrobial agent for counteracting fungal and drug resistant infections" I'd have been happier. I am not a chemist, but it seems to me that if big pharma isolates the one (or more) phytochemicals that give Euc. Citriodora its powerful anti-fungal effect, the possibility of the drug resistant strains becoming resistant to this valuable natural anti-fungal increases.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Emotional effects of Tuberose

And while we are quoting... from the same source:

Tuberose has a relaxing and sensuous effect and decreases depression and increases happiness and is used to enhance romantic moments. It caused a decrease in depression, reinforcing its positive mood swings.

No wonder both these oils are so beloved by perfumers!

Read more about our exotic Indian Tuberose Absolute here.

Osmanthus and mood

Quoting from "Aromatherapy Science a guide for healthcare professionals" by Maria Lis-Balchin who refers to a study between the Sense of Smell Institute regarding the effects of fragrance on mood. 'Osmanthus is stimulating and helps to reduce apathy and depression; it is highly coveted in China and Japan, with its floral/fruity smell somewhat like apricot, and showed an increase in happiness, with a decrease in all the negative mood factors."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Save-a-Pet today

This in email from my daughter a few minutes ago:


Hi, all you animal lovers. This is pretty simple... Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals.

It takes less than a minute (How about 20 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals' for free. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.


Please ask some friends to do the same thing. (I just did!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Post-it Notes from the Creator

I hesitated to share this here, because it feels way too personal. But one of my circle of wise council says that it needs to be shared..so...

This past weekend I spent at a woman's retreat at a campsite west of Nashville. Beautiful blue October skies, turning foliage, warm sunshine and nippy evenings, with comfortable rooms and great food. A hundred and a half beautiful women, each on our own spiritual journey, but sharing very similar paths. A wonderful 'vacation'... but the real gift of the weekend came in the form of a post-it note from the Creator

(Yes, my God gives me post-it notes as reminders!)

Saturday morning there was a workshop called "Blisters to Blessings"... how the painful events of our lives can turn into the greatest of blessings. Many beautiful women shared how their pain had turned into their blessings, and I felt called to share the story of the birth of Nature's Gift. How in 1994 I was told I was totally disabled, and would never work again...and how that terrible painful frightening time held in it the seeds of the life I had today, because it gave me time to read and learn and study my two passions - the healing power of the essential oils and online communication. The World Wide Web was new to me, and I had to learn how to design my own page. And then a friend commented on one of my blends..."this is wonderful, you need to sell it!" and somehow Nature's Gift was born.

I sometimes feel uncomfortable sharing that tale for fear it will come across as "how wonderful I am"... it's not about that. It's about the fact it is not humanly possible to get from where I was to where we are now. And the fact that I always wanted to be a "healer" and that has not been my gift - but because of what we do here, we get to participate in the healing journeys of thousands of people.

At any rate, I shared my "blisters to blessings" story, and several women said, afterwards, that it gave them hope. (Of course throughout the rest of the weekend, others kept coming up to me and asking "do you have something that will help with ____?" and I shared what I knew, but that's a different story.) As it worked out, a fair amount of the time this weekend was spent talking about what we do here. Which was just fine... it's my favorite subject!

But it still made me a bit uncomfortable to be talking so often about the oils and their healing power on what was designed to be a spiritual weekend.

The true gift, though, came Sunday morning. During the closing ceremony there is an exercise done with affirmations. Perhaps 40 of us in a group, and each of us drew a sealed slip of paper, the affirmation we would be working with, and sharing throughout the morning.

I opened my sealed piece of paper and felt my eyes fill with tears.

"You are doing God's Work"

Monday, September 29, 2008

an autumn day in the life...

the autumn equinox has passed now, and we begin to experience the hypnotic changes in our surroundings. being a true child of nature, when this time of year rolls around i find myself awash in energies unlike any i experience at other times of the year. it begins at about the same time i notice the squirrels scampering around and up and down our walnut trees. i become more domestic, cooking and cleaning, making preparations for the dark months. i spend more time walking in our wooded space, watching the now golden light filter down through the trees to create a dapple on the path. our dogs wander with me, easing away at times, noses to the ground. they are no doubt experiencing the same sweet aroma of decaying leaves that i take deep into my lungs.
at this most special time, when the day is done, i feel a thrill of expectation. it is the winding down hour; a good cup of tea and a healthy dose of Autumn Sunshine, our wonderful seasonal blend, in my lamp. every lamp in the house is lit and exuding the rich aroma that extends the magical qualities of the day into bath and bed time. when i put the lamps out and cozy up in my bed, that lovely scent lingers, sending me off into slumber and dreams of winding paths and floating leaves.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Which essential oil diffuser is best?

For zapping germs? for combatting bacteria, virii, molds and spores, you can't beat a nebulizing diffuser. Microparticles of the oils are dispersed into the air and stay suspended for up to two hours. Disadvantage? The nebulizers tend to be noisier than other styles, and can require more maintenance than others. However for banishing germs, etc. they can't be beat.

For silence and convenience? My personal favorite is the AromaStone. This small British unit is safe, carefree and low maintenance.

It gently heats the essential oils to baby-bottle temperature. Disadvantage? It's not a powerful diffuser. It is perfect for bedside use, but not the best choice to fill a large room with aromatics.

For a child's room? the Ultrasonic nebulizer combines the function of a nebulizing diffuser with a humidifier. Perfect if you child is prone to stuffy noses, colds or ear infections. No heat is involved, so if a child does tip it over there is no danger of a burn. Disadvantage? Some people find the light distracting, and obviously if you live in a damp or humid environment adding more moisture to the air counter-productive.

For mood and ambience? The traditional aroma lamp (sometimes called a burner) is my favorite. A bowl of warm water, over a tea candle, with a few drops of your chosen oil added. Silent, attractive, and simple. Disadvantage? All the risks of a lit candle, of course, as well as the chance that you may use up all the water in the bowl before the candle burns out.

For further discussion of these and other recommended methods of diffusing please click here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Contacting Congress-critters

If you wish to take direct action to oppose the FDA's proposed Globalization Act bycontacting your elected representatives, this link gives the names, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses and other information about your Senat0rs and Representatives.


It is my understanding that although I am much more comfortable sending email (and I love its speed!) that in this case actually sitting down and composing a written letter - on paper! (what a concept!) and mailing it to their offices might be more effective.

Also I just found out that the deadline for signing the petition mentioned in an earlier blog post is August 4th.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on the FDA globalization act and "Safe Cosmetics"

Many of our clients and friends are members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. After all, who doesn't want the products we sell to be safe, and to be publicly allied with an organization dedicated to removing toxic substances from products we use daily?

This week the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics not only drafted a petition to Congress endorsing the FDA Globalization Act, but asking that its provisions be strengthened.

Their Petition asks Congress to change the law so that any manufacturer must obtain pre-market approval of every single cosmetic product. That's tantamount to regulating cosmetics like drugs are currently regulated. The link to the House Committee considering this draft law is here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/FDAGlobalAct-08/index.shtml

The draft law is burdensome and discriminatory to small and woman-owned businesses. You can see the Campaign's Petition here: http://action.safecosmetics.org/petition/Index.asp?id=35. This Petition was announced without consulting with any of the signers to the Compact. Any signer of the Compact, by implication, is assumed to support the Campaign's position to drastically change the law as outlined above. Do not sign the Campaign's Petition if you support small businesses!

While we all support educating consumers and protecting them from unsafe products, this law will not serve that purpose. Instead, it will stamp out competition and return our customers to the days when all they could choose from are Dial Soap and Oil of Olay. It will also more than likely make it impossible for Nature's Gift to make available our range of products, since we can not possibly to the "pre release safety testing" that would be required. We believe that the petition on the Compact for Safe Cosmetics site is counterproductive to the goal of increasing the use of safe cosmetics and skincare products and will do more harm than good to small natural product businesses. If the industry is regulated to the degree they are calling for, small businesses would exit the marketplace in droves because they can't pay excessive fees and comply with burdensom, unfair and unnecessary paperwork.

If you are one of the several hundred signees of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics compact you can contact them, stating your opposition to their petition, and asking that your name (or your company's name) be removed from their list.

Oppose This Law!! Sign The Petition Against This Law The Indie Beauty Network, a trade orgranization representing 700+ small cosmetics manufacturers is leading the charge against this law. So far, over 1,500 cosmetics companies, their customers and concerned citizens have signed a Petition released by IBN. You can watch the video, read the Petition and sign it here (Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to see the comment section, and be sure to leave you name, city, state and zip.)IBN's July 24, 2008, letter to the Congress persons on the House Energy & Commerce Committee can be viewed here:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Political Post - Free Tibet

Years ago a group of Tibetan Monks came through Nashville, on a mission dedicated to cleansing the world. They spent a week creating a stunning mandala on a table top, created by sifting colored sands in a pattern I couldn't recognize. Several of us visited them daily, watching the growth of the Mandala. On the last day, when the work of art was finished, they prayed over it, then took brushes and carefully brushed away the beauty they had created. Each of us there was given a tiny bag of the multicolored sand, blessed with their prayers. (I wear mine in an Essendulum) We formed a procession walking to the nearest point of the Cumberland River, where the sand, dedicated to the cleansing of the natural world, was poured into the water, to be carried to the oceans. It was a deeply moving ceremony, even though I understood little about their faith.

Since then, I've been moved to study the life and writings of the Dalai Lama, and have come to believe that he is one of the greatest spiritual leaders and wisest humans of our generation.

His country, Tibet, is under the rule of China. The people of Tibet are forbidden to practice their faith, and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is forced to lead from exile.

At the beginning of the Beijing Olympics an international light protest is being held to symbolize the desire that Tibet be freed. Those who support this cause are asked to do one simple thing...to light a candle at 9:00 PM on the night of August

From the Candle for Tibet website:

August 7th 2008 is the day before the opening ceremony of The Olympic Games in Beijing. On this day we aim to create the world's greatest LIGHT PROTEST, when at least 100 million people from all over the world will light a candle and say YES to freedom in Tibet!

All you are asked to do is to light a simple candle on August 7th at 9 pm in your own time zone.

Light the Candle at your home, workplace or in a public place. Put the candle in your Window, or on your desk, or anywhere else where other people will see it and hopefully do the same.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wrong Policy, Wrong Law, Wrong Time

Congress is currently considering the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008. Now, we are all in favor of keeping our food, cosmetics, prescription drugs, etc. Safe. And we know what a wonderful job the FDA has done in the past. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic, probably from watching food item after food item being recalled, or warned against.)

Next to be controlled and safeguarded for our protection is the cosmetics industry. The legislation is aimed at giving the FDA authority to promulgate new regulations that are supposed to protect consumers and also provide the funding the agency needs to enforce existing laws in a global market. You can read the full text of the draft legislation here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/FDAGlobalAct-08/Dingel_60AXML.pdf.

The proposed legislation would, among other things:

1. Require all cosmetics companies serving American consumers to register annually with the FDA, and pay a registration fee of $2,000 per facility per year, and to list in its registration the cosmetics it manufactures, processes, packs or holds, and also, for manufacturers, to list all ingredients in each product contained in the registration listing.

2. Require all cosmetics companies to report to the FDA "serious adverse events" resulting from the use of the products.

3. Require all cosmetics companies to comply with the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices.

4. Require all companies that import cosmetics to register annually with the FDA, and pay another registration fee ($10,000) to do so.

5. Give the FDA authority to levy substantial fines for violations of the new requirements.

How does this affect us, and how does it affect you?

Because it is illegal to make any therapeutic claims for our products, the essential oils and other natural products that we import are "For use in cosmetics and perfume." The blends that we manufacture and make available are for cosmetic use. Thus we fall under the "umbrella" of a cosmetics company.

Now, after 15 years in business, Nature's Gift can afford an annual $2000 registration fee. But...if we have to list every product once a year, what does that do for new products? New oils, new blends, new ideas. Sorry, wait until next year.

We are importers more than we are manufacturers. The $10,000 import fee will add to the already increasing costs we pay to bring in the products we make available.

More than that...many of our clients are where I was 15 - 18 years ago. A passion for creating soaps, or perfumes, or healing salves or whatever... Giving them to friends, and being asked to make more to sell. Just starting out in a business. Anyone who creates any of these sort of products for resale will be covered by this proposed bill. I know that for our first few years in business, I could not have paid to register Nature's Gift.

Even if you are not in business ... if you are ordering for your own personal use or for family and friends you will still be affected if this act closes. Do you purchase from small independent businesses? Do you enjoy the benefits of handmade toiletries, soaps or cosmetics? This proposed act will put many of your favorite small businesses out of business, taking away your freedom of choice, your freedom to decide where to purchase.

If you want to get involved in trying to stop this proposed legislation, which I believe is the wrong policy, the wrong law, at the wrong time there are at least two actions you can take.

1. You may call or write your congressman and/or senators and voice your concerns about and opposition to the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008.

2 You may watch the video DonnaMaria Coles Johnson, founder and president of the Handmade Beauty Network has prepared to explain some of the problems with the bill, and find suggestions of action you can take.

3. You may sign the petition hosted by the Independent Business Blog. Please go to the end of the list of comments (the bottom of the page) to add your comment. Please add your city and state so that your comment will be counted and taken seriously.

Thanks for your time and attention. We love what we do at Nature's Gift, and would like to continue to be allowed to do it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

More Research Citations

Boy, if someone is writing a term paper, this blog is for them!

Came across another list of aromatherapy research citations at the University of Miami Touch Research Institute. The majority of the cite is dedicated to research into the effectiveness of Massage Therapy, but this one page is specifically aimed at AT, sometimes comparing aromatherapy massage with "plain massage" sometimes using the oils by inhalation only.

Where is that young man who said that using the word "Clinical" was an exaggeration?

I love it when the scientists prove what we already know!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Workshop in Atlanta

One of our biggest "commercial" clients is the Natural Foods Warehouse in the Atlanta area. Dannie Lane is responsible for their Aromatherapy department, which now stocks over 40 Nature's Gift essential oils.

He happened to email that he is giving a workshop on Saturday... covered will be:

History of Aromatherapy- the good, the bad and the “where did that come from”. The (now) 44 essential oils we have here from Anise to ylang ylang. What they can be used for: bath and body care, Infections, colds, flu, emotional, mental and spiritual. How to use them: Salts, massage, sprays, diffuser Etc. Children, Elderly and Pets: the more sensitive among us, pets are people too (well not so much). Safety Issues: what not to do, what to look out for, quality of oils and the hype that is out there.

Sounds interesting...and if my weekend weren't booked and overbooked I'd be tempted to drive on down. If you are in the Atlanta area, it might be a nice way to spend a day.

(I'm sure Dannie must have given me the time...but I can't find it anywhere...call the store for the hours!)

Natural Foods Warehouse
6000 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA 30022

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Aromatherapy Research

The previous discussion, about whether or not essential oils should be called "clinical" brought to mind a website that I discovered earlier this evening. The University of Minnesota has a site devoted to "Taking Charge of Your Health." A good read. I zeroed in on the section pertaining to Complimentary Therapies... especially, of course, Aromatherapy. (No, I didn't ace the "activity" on matching essential oils and therapeutic results...I'm MORTIFIED!)

What especially drew my attention was the "What does the research say about Essential Oils."

Pages of published research covering the anti-microbial effects of essential oils, the effectiveness of EO's for pain relief, psychological effects, toxicity and sensitization, and a rather miscellaneous grouping of other studies.

I love it when serendipity happens! Just when I needed some research cites to reply to Colin's comments - there they are!

Clinical Aromatherapy on TV

A friend just sent me this link, to a story on the Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate, with the following question "Hi Marge - the bottles of oils in this video look a lot like yours - yes?"

Yes indeed!!! We've been involved in the Clinical Aromatherapy program at Harris Methodist since it started, and are really delighted to see such positive coverage in the local press.

(I love the contrast made between "recreational" oils, available in department stores, and the "clinical" oils used at the hospital.) Just wish they had shown our brand name in the picture! (and wish I could figure out how to save one frame of the video so I could add the picture of our Lavender oil they used to this post!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good ? for your skin, deadly to the environment.

I came across the article in this link recently and it has stuck in my mind.

Basically the article talks of many corporations (examples given are Olay, Dove, Clean and Clear) offering exfoliants using plastic micropellets, " tiny particles of polyethylene that scrub the dirt from your face and then wash straight down the drain and into watersheds and, eventually, oceans."

""As this debris occupies the same size range as sand grains and planktonic organisms, it is available to a wide range of invertebrates near the base of the food chain," says Mark Browne, a scientist at the Centre for Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities at the University of Sydney who has studied the consequences of microscopic plastic in marine habitats. And unlike other types of plastic that just happen to end up in the ocean, these beads are almost predestined to reach the sea."

And we continue to foul our own nest!

Some examples of less harmful (but effective and natural) exfoliants remain salt (wonderful for body scrubs), sugar, both white and brown, Jojoba Beads (which look and feel like plastic, but are not!) Paula Begoun, the beauty products critic recommends using baking soda as a facial exfoliant. Since baking soda is alkali, and would disrupt the skin's acid mantle even briefly, I would follow that with rose hydrosol, or another hydrosol as a toner, since all the hydrosols are mildly acidic.

Personally I can't help wondering what is wrong with a good old fashioned wash cloth or face cloth? seems to work for me!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nature's Babies

Here at Nature's Gift, I think I speak for all of us
in saying that we take pleasure in sharing with the rest of the world the wonderful gifts that Mother Nature provides, in the form of healing (and great-smelling) plant extracts, and the products we create with them. Well, this past month we received a lovely gift from Mother Nature! In the delight of Spring Fever, we decorated the outside of our new digs with hanging plants. Geraniums, Petunias, and Fuschia.

Soon after we got satisfied with how lovely and happy our building was looking, it seems the house wrens were suitably appreciative as well. They took up housekeeping in our Fuschia plant. I think by the time we discovered our feathered friends' new abode, there were already little blue eggs in the nest!

...And then there were little fuzzy babes. They grew quickly!

The other day we did our daily check on the bird nursery... they had flown away! Good for them. We loved having them live with us, and we hope they have a beautiful life somewhere out there in the trees and the sky...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Our hearts go out to our neighbors in the north. We have a LOT of clients in Wisconsin, as well as the surrounding states, and the news of the flooding there is just devastating.
I'm remembering when heavy rains and tropical storms flooded part of our house, perhaps 10 or so years ago. The family room carpet was underwater. In addition to the commercial fans that go under the carpet to force drying, we pulled out our trusty nebulizing diffuser, and filled it with perhaps equal parts of Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) which would, probably, have prevented mold and mildew growth all by itself. But I don't like the medicinal aroma of teatree, and did not want it filling my house. To the tea tree I added some Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora), another powerful anti-fungal with a bright lemony aroma. The combination of the two "cleared the air" beautifully. Once the fans finished removing all the water from the carpet and its padding, the room never smelled musty or mildewy. (Among other things, I'm allergic to molds and spores, so couldn't take a chance on any lingering in the family room...which is also my computer room/office.)

Perhaps something in this suggestion will help the folks trying to dry their homes up as the waters go down.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Psoriasis Suggestions

Recently received a copy of "Aromadermatology" by Janetta Bensouilah and Phillipa Buck. It is NOT an easy read; definitely not designed for the casual home reader.

It does have an interesting section on the cause, and suggested aromatherapy treatments for Psoriasis. The authors stress the emotional effects of this disfiguring skin disease, and attempt to address them, as well as the physical manifestations.

Among suggested essential oils are:
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
  • Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
  • Cistus (Cistus ladaniferus)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Helichrysum italicuum
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
  • Rose Absolute (Rosa centifolia)
  • Sandalwood (Santalum album)
Not mentioned in the book, probably because it is a relatively new product, and because I doubt there has been any research done, is Pomegranate Seed CO2 extract. We have several nurses who are using the Pomegranate CO2 on clients with psoriasis, and achieving amazing results, so this should definitely be added to the list.
The carrier oils recommended are Jojoba, Calaphyllum inophyllum (Tamanu or Foraha) and Calendula Infused Oil. Also mentioned are any of the GLA rich oils, specifically Borage Seed or Evening Primrose, as well as Avocado Oil.
They also suggest the use of hydrosols, either sprays or in cool compresses, for relief from itching, with Yarrow, Witch Hazel and Lavender being mentioned as of particular value. (I would want to try Calendula or Helichrysum, which the authors may not be familiar with.)
Research is sited showing that an aloe vera based cream was vastly more effective than a placebo in resolving plaques, so using Aloe Vera Gel as part of the base or carrier is definitely recommended.
Now we have seen other carrier oils recommended in treating psoriasis; they are listed in our "Psoriasis Sampler Set."
The authors also address the itching that often accompanies psoriasis. Their recommendations, as well as using the oils, aloe, hydrosols, etc. include:
  • Keep the skin cool. (Hydrosol spritzes could help with this.)
  • Baths or showers should be cool or lukewarm, never hot.
  • Limit the use of soaps and cleansers as much as possible.
  • Keep the skin moisturized; dry skin tends to itch more.
  • Always moisturize following bathing
  • Wear light clothing - cotton and silk- for coolness. Avoid scratchy wool and synthetic fibers.
Hope some of this is helpful!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rose de Mai (Rosa Centifolia)

My friend Sylvie, from Grasse, the world's perfume capitol, sometimes sends me photos. This last week she sent some of the famous "Rose de Mai"... Rosa centifolia, gathered from a friend's garden.

Most of you know I love all true Rose oils and absolutes, Bulgarian, Turkish, hydrodistilled or solvent extracted... centifolia or damascena; I'm not too proud to love them all. But the Rose de Mai is just SPECIAL... "Rosa centifolia"...the hundred petal rose.

I came across a wonderful description of the production of our Rose de Mai (yes, ours is also from Pegomas...the same Absolute Chanel uses!) at Jessica's 1000flowers blog.

Memo to me...I have to find some of the pictures Sylvie sent me of the Jasmine fields in Grasse, as well!

Hydrosol - Top Ten

At some point someone suggested that we do some "top ten" lists for the blog or the newsletter. Easiest data to analyze has been the Hydrosols we offer. Now, the following list is based purely on items sold via our shopping cart. It doesn't include the bulk orders that some folks enter, so the data is skewed. It only includes the 4 ounce atomizer bottles. This is the "top selling" hydrosol list from January until the end of May, 2008

Witch Hazel
Tea Tree
Roman Chamomile

I find that fascinating! The second best selling hydrosol is also the most expensive that we offer. Rose, one expects. I doubt there's anyone in the world who hasn't heard of "Rose Water." But the only reason for Helichrysum Hydrosol's popularity is its amazing effectiveness!

(If I were to have run the stats for just this week, our brand new Patchouli hydrosol would have headed the list. I'm arranging to bring in more from the producer as soon as she has time to distill it!)

And I wonder why Lavender Hydrosol isn't on the list? Perhaps because we offer two different ones, and that confuses people? Or because I am honest enough to state that Lavender Hydrosols don't smell as good as the essential oil. It was years before I found out the reason for the difference. Because the linalyl acetate normally found in the Essential Oil is not found in the hydrosol!

I suspect now that summer seems to be upon us that Peppermint Hydrosol will soar to the top of the list. With temperatures already in the high 90's here in Middle Tennessee I'm dreading what July and August will bring. I know of no more cooling refresher than a splash of Peppermint hydrosol in a glass of water, or a spritz of it as a body spray.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Natural sunscreens?

As summer approaches, the need for some sort of natural sunscreen becomes more and more urgent. Unless a product has undergone long and costly tests, it may not legally be marketed as a sunscreen. One can not state that a product has an SPF (Sun protection factor) of 5, 15, 30 etc. without the specific product having undergone the tests.

Consequently, we make no claims about any of the oils in the following list. However, if you are tempted to try your own sunscreens, these are the oils that you might want to include:

Red Raspberry Seed Oil - tested to have an SPF of between 28 and 50. (Oomah et al, 2000.) Our shipment won't be in for another week or so...sigh.

Cranberry Seed Oil - sited in various patent applications, further research ongoing.

Seabuckthorn berry co2 - Absorbs UVB rays, may act as a powerful sun screen. (Beveridge, T., Li, T. S. C., Oomah, B. O. and Smith, A., J. Agric. Food Chem., 1999,)

Helichyrsum essential oil/hydrosol - (Shaath, et al)

Hazelnut Oil - strong sun filtering action (Price, ITR Chile)

Further research shows that any oil high in tocopherols may add at least some protection. This would, of course, include my beloved Argan oil, Pomegranate CO2, Seabuckthorn Berry CO2, and the Cranberry Seed Oil mentioned above.

Blends of any and all of the above ingredients might help to protect your skin from the burning rays of the sun.

On another day we'll discuss options for when you forgot the sunscreen and need to treat a sunburn.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ancient History (or...We've Come a Long Way, Baby!)

Some of you know that Wendy Robbins, founder of Aromaweb and I go back awhile. In the mid 90's, Aromaweb did not accept advertising. It was purely a labof of love for Wendy. One of the freedoms she had then (which, since she now has advertisers, she has lost) was to write critiques of oils that she purchased. I remember my excitement back in ... 96? 97? when an order came in from Wendy Robbins. *This was my big chance! I simply HAD to knock her dead!*

Back then, of course, there was just me. And I have never claimed to be able to put a label on straight. (Today they won't allow me in the pouring room.)

Here is a copy of her review of that order. And a picture she recently sent me.

Please keep in mind that she had already reviewed one old and respected supplier and said good things... and panned a couple of well known brands. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

"Marge Clark, owner of Nature's Gift, is an avid participant on theAromatherapy mailing list. She always appears eager to share her knowledge with others, and has even contributed the Essential Oil Details featured article on AromaWeb. What Nature's Gift sacrifices in the packaging of its oils, it makes up in the quality of the oils. What you cannot expect is attractively labeled bottles (clear,wide tape holds computer labels on the.25 ounce bottles that I received) or even a reciept (I didn't get one with my order). The oils inside these bottles, however, is where Nature's Gift really shines. I purchased two .25 ounce sizes and also received a few sample sizes. Depending on the oil tested, the quality was excellent; the quality of each oil is comparable or better than that of The XXXX XXX Company. Marge also points out in response to the issue of the clear tape is that it prevents the ink from smearing on the labels after the oil drips onto it, indeed a very common problem with oils including those from XXX, and especially those from the XXXX XXX Company."-Wendy Robbins

(I still couldn't believe that I forgot to include the invoice...that shows how nervous I was.) In spite of the well deserved criticism of the labels, etc. I was SO pleased with that review...because the products inside the bottles are what have always been important.

Lest anyone reading think that this is still what we are supplying at Nature's Gift, here's a picture of some of our current packaging. (Not, obviously, labled by me!)

I'm blessed to have talented young women
(and a very creative young man) to do
our pouring and packaging today!

Wendy and I had a wonderful time reminiscing about the old days. Hope you enjoy this 'trip down memory lane' as much as we did!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Women For Women

Many of you know that Women for Women has been our "charity of the quarter" since September, 2007. We normally rotate every quarter, but our clients have donated so generously to this cause that we've continued it.

Last night I was browsing a week old copy of Time Magazine (their 100 most influential people issue) and found on nearly the back page an article about "The Power of One" by Caroline Kennedy. Focus of the article? Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women. An amazing story of courage and determination. You may read the article at this link.

We already knew Women for Women was a cause worth supporting, but the personal insight on the founder just amazed me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Reviews

New (to me!) Books of Note:

for those inflicted with the recurring pain of Migraines:

Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches by Teri Robert. An amazingly complete guide to dealing with Migraine Disease. Ms. Roberts helps us understand side effects, explores treatments for long-term relief, thoroughly explains the risks and symptoms, identifies different types of headaches; (Migraine is one one type of disabling headache!), explores traditional and alternative therapies (including, of course, my beloved essential oils), gives guidance on finding the appropriate health care providers and support, as well as including case studies and expert advice.

Ms. Roberts suggests that the judicious use of essential oils may relieve the nausea that often accompanies a migraine, as well as help ease the pain of the migraine itself. She mentions a commercial product that is based on a diluted blend of Lavender and Peppermint oils, in a carrier oil. Packaged in a "rollerball" bottle, this blend would be ideal for applying to the temples, and lavender and peppermint are the most commonly recommended essential oils for relieving the pain of any type headache.
As well as Lavender and Peppermint, Ms Roberts also recommends Chamomile (I'd suggest Roman), Clary Sage, Melissa, Jasmine, and Rosemary for use, either diluted for massage, or in a diffuser.

For the Herbalist :

Whether you are a herb gardener, someone who uses herbs for their healing benefits, or a gourmet cook, adding fresh and dried herbs to all sorts of yummies, you NEED a copy of Under the Sun - the First Five Years. The Essential Herbal Magazine is must reading for any one interested in any uses of herbs. Tina Sams, the world's most delightful editor, has compiled a charming book based on the first five years worth of issues from the magazine (most now out of print and unavailable elsewhere!)

Over 200 pages of growing tips, wild-crafting, yummy recipes, first aid, traditional uses, suggestions on starting an herb business... this book covers it all. Plus while browsing through its pages I feel as though I'm sitting across the kitchen table from Tina and some other friends, sharing what works, what doesn't, laughter and tears over... a cup of herb tea, of course! Only available from the magazine's website.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My favorite Earth Week Message

The message below arrived in last week's mail. I took too long to ask the author for permission to quote it. Fascinating ideas on specific actions we can take during this time of threatened food shortages, to make our families and neighborhoods a bit more self sufficient.

I feel obligated to come out of hiding to address a very serious issue. Out of nowhere, as many “catastrophes” often appear, America is facing a food shortage. Completely laudable, some would argue, and agree that if a real threat at all, must indeed be related to increasing gasoline prices. Now whether you believe this shortage to be inevitable or a capitalistic ploy (I vote for number two), we Americans are not completely helpless. There are some who want us to believe we are helpless, but as long as we believe we are not, we are not! There are ways that we can take back control of our food supply and decrease cancer rates and pollution at the same time.

From Tammie Umbel, CEO
Shea Terra Organics

"The area surrounding my ten acre, organically managed farm in Leesburg, VA is a picture that I have seen again and again in my travels across the country. What used to be cow pastures and cash crop farms are now miniature, luxury estates. Across from a five hundred acre cow farm are houses over ten thousand square feet with five to twenty acres a piece. Now some might hate me for what I am about to say, and frankly I could care less. It wouldn’t be the first or last time anyhow. But while the owners of these houses look outside to their kingdom of lush, manicured “pastures”, I see giant junk yards, endless pits of waste that are the real reason America might face a food shortage, and why food prices are soaring. Not only do these yards require a lot of environment polluting diesel to manicure them , but they are also eating up land that could be used for local food production- to feed the masses so we can stop importing the majority of our food from across the globe.

And she goes on to make suggestions that many of us may be able to follow. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

re-usuable money stretcher

we can re-use our empty nature's gift bottles for all sorts of things.
after using all the product from one of our bottles with a treatment pump i cleaned it out thoroughly and refilled it with a diluted version of my hair conditioner. my hair is very long, and needs conditioning frequently, but not everyday. it does, however, need to be untangled. by diluting my favorite over the counter conditioner about 50-50 with H2O i had the perfect consistency to use on the ends of my hair as a detangling agent.
if i buy super size bottles of conditioner i can decant small amounts of it into one of our bottles with a lotion pump to more easily use in the shower.
if you love to use the old timey hair rinses try the atomizer top bottle as a spray.
the atomizer top especially has many uses: filled with water and handy for misting your houseplants. homemade pet spray is easily dispensed with it, too. if you work in watercolors it's a great spray for your creative endeavors.
i shouldn't neglect to mention the disc lid which was the first of our tops i experimented with for re-use. one of our used bottles with a disc lid dispenses my dishwashing liquid. i could go on and on.
i'm interested to know if you have any ideas about re-using our packaging. use your imagination, and please let me know what you come up with in the comments area. we might put it in our newsletter as we move forward into the "green age"!
bright blessings to you-

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day from Sadie

"the earth laughs in flowers."
ee cummings

That is one of my favorite quotes. I know we've all also heard the old adage that "Laughter is the best medicine." So if flowers are the Earth's laughter, and laughter is medicine, it follows that the glorious beautiful essential oils that we distill from said flowers are Mother Earth's truest medicine. Liquid Laughter from our Mother...

We Have a Beautiful Mother
By Alice Walker

We have a beautiful mother
Her hills are buffaloes
Her buffaloes hills.

We have a beautiful mother
Her oceans are wombs
Her wombs oceans.

We have a beautiful mother
Her teeth the white stones at the edge of the water
The summer grasses her plentiful hair.

We have a beautiful mother
Her green lap immense
Her brown embrace eternal
Her blue body everything we know.

Happy Earth Day!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008


every year on April 22 i have two reasons to celebrate. along with many of our fellow inhabitants i celebrate and give thanks for our beloved planet. on a more personal level i have the unlimited joy of celebrating the birth of my beautiful daughter. Gretchen was born on April 22, 1971, the first celebrated earth day. i am grateful to have her in my life and for everything she has done to make my life a happier one. i truly admire the woman Gretchen has become. i enjoy having her to share things with. if i need a shoulder i can count on her to listen carefully and respond with wisdom beyond her years. if i have good news she celebrates with me. she very simply is the brightest blessing in my life.

today we at nature's gift celebrated earth day by hanging flower baskets and tending to our pots out back. we planted pink geraniums and purple petunias. later we will add a rosemary plant, and maybe another herb or two. the herbs from last year died across the winter except for the st. john's wort. affectionatly known as "st. johnny", he thinned down during the dark season, but we expect him to be picking up real soon. johnny got a good haircut today and is looking quite spiffy in time for new growth.

please indulge me as i add a word regarding our mother. all we have, all we need and all that we are originates with our mother earth. on the other side everything we don't need returns to the earth as well. to our disgrace we have been less than dilligent in honoring earth for all the blessings she has provided. on the contrary, it's as though we create open wounds in her, insert the most horrendous materials that she can never absorb, cover the wound with a band-aid and forget it.

thankfully, it has gotten much easier to recycle, and it is great that so many have had the inititive to take that first step towards liberating the earth from our misuse. but to heal earth's wounds and re-create an acceptable balance will take more than recycling alone. because we have neglected our duty for so long extreme measures must be taken. one way we can contribute on an individual level is to thoroughly research products we buy and who we are buying them from. if we boycott those who don't manufacture responsibly possibly we could have an impact on their decision making processes. manufacturing responsibly includes every aspect of the process, from where they purchase their supplies to how they dispose of their waste.

it is shameful that so many, for so long, have taken so much that they've forgotten there is a cost. self interest and the obsession with wealth has robbed people of their sensibilities.

i know there are numbers of responsible world citizens out there who are willing to help turn this thing around. we can impress on the selfish and desensitized members of society that there is no place in our lives for the products they produce nor the leavings of their processes. consider yourself a volunteer. volunteers give back because they are grateful for what they have been given.

we should not shrug it off and wait for someone else to do it. the time is now. express gratitude for the powerful opportunity to learn more about what you can do and the even more powerful opportunity of doing it!

bright blessings, love and light to you all!
t smith