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!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunburn Soother for Hot Spots on Dogs

My dogs are currently shedding which causes discomfort & some dry flaky skin. The Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix, Lexi, had a terrible night a couple of nights ago, biting & scratching all night long. (Since she sleeps with me, neither of us got much sleep.) So yesterday morning I sprayed her down with Helichyrsum & Yarrow Hydrosols to help alleviate the symptoms & when I came home from work she was much better & her coat was nice & soft. She still had one big problem area near her tail which she would not leave alone, so as we neared bedtime, I remembered Marge’s new Sunburn Soother (a blend of Helichrysum, German Chamomile, Lavender, Aloe Vera Gel, & Jojoba Oil), & pulled up her hair in the trouble area & applied it, basically on the skin, & underneath the coat, massaging it in. I am happy to report that we all slept well last night & the Sunburn Soother seemed to give her relief from a constant itch over the past several days. Remember, a little goes a long way for use on a dog. (Lexi is about 16 pounds & I just used a couple of squirts from the pump.) I thought you might be interested in an alternative use for this product…it was a lifesaver (and sleep saver) for us last night! (BTW, as with any essential oils, not recommended for use on cats.) (Photo is of my other dog, Cooper, a Chi-Pom.)

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.

Spring Means Fighting Ticks & Fleas

We are having the most beautiful Spring here in Middle Tennessee. In fact, one of the best in many years. Everything is lush & green so I've been spending a lot of time outdoors & in the dog park with my dogs Lexi & Cooper. I'm happy to report they are tick & flea free so far, even though ticks have been much worse than usual during our lovely weather. Unfortunately, I've not been tick free, at least not until I started using our Rose Geranium in my Skeeter Beater Body Oil. Ticks frighten me because of the possibility of Lyme Disease. I have several friends who battle it chronically & after seeing their struggles, I am even more aware of the dangers of ticks. I've found a few crawling on me (but not the dogs) & T, our production manager, has also reported seeing high numbers of them this year. (as have several other friends) I apply Skeeter Beater Oil to my doggies once a week from about November-April. But in Spring they usually get two applications a week. With the body oil, you just apply it high below the back of the neck or top of the spine where they cannot reach it. (Just like you would with topical flea & tick control from the vet.) I add a few drops of Rose Geranium to our blend for added protection against ticks. (Reportedly, it repels them.) And you don't need much because the scent of Rose Geranium can be overwhelming. Since adding the Rose Geranium, no more tick sightings on my body or clothing. Hopefully, that tip will also help you as you enjoy the great outdoors throughout the Summer season! Christi