Sunday, March 29, 2009

Internal use of Essential Oils

At least once a week someone emails and asks me about using our oils internally.

A couple of years ago I wrote a page for the website, explaining my answer to that question.

And promptly forgot about it.

Tonight, elbow deep in a "behind the scenes" website update, I found the page. If you ever wonder why most reputable sources do NOT recommend the internal use of essential oils, you can read some of the reasons here.

Maybe I should add it to the Frequently Asked (and never read!) questions page?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bergamot Close Out

Closing out last year's to make room for the 2009 crop. Order now while supplies last. (This one didn't make our newsletter, and will be gone by April 1st.)

See our Specials page.

Week Five drawing - Lip Balms

This is Week 5 of the Herbal Blog Contest. Friday March 27th to Thursday April 2nd.

Featured this week are moisturizing Lip Balms from Patti’s Potions Natural Soaps, Ltd.

Did you know that most lip balms contain petroleum products that are NOT eco-friendly? This is your opportunity to experience rich moisturizing oils in your lip care experience. Ingredients: calendula infused olive oil, shea butter, natural beeswax, jojoba, castor, vitamin E and fragrance/flavors.

To win TWO of these luscious lip balms, simply enter by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning!!! Don’t forget to include your email addy so we can contact the winner!

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.

PrairieLand Herbs
Keep coming back and keep entering. We have some great prizes coming up, and we'll be having the contests until the middle of May!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

top ten most ordered Essential Oils

Finally found time to play with the shopping cart stats for all of 2008, and found some real surprises.

To choose our Top Ten Most Ordered we decided to go with just who ordered how many bottles. I started out trying to figure how many ounces of each we sold, and it made my head hurt. So we finally went down to "this many bottles were ordered"... doesn't matter if it was 16 oz in bulk, or 2 ml. If it was ordered, it added to the total. And it got complicated counting the subvarieties of each oil, so we totalled them. X Frankincense, X rose, X pine, etc.

Given all that... and excluding oils that went into sampler kits, and student kits and various other packaging... drum roll, please! Here are our most ordered essential oils of 2008:

Number 10: a tie... between SeaBuckthornBerry CO2, and Pink Grapefruit Oil! The only Citrus oil to make the list. Looks like you all love it almost as much as we do!

Number 9: ROSE - Rose otto, rose absolute, rose de mai... it doesn't matter. You love our Roses!

Number 8: SANDALWOOD - YES! What wonderful taste our clients have!

Number 7: TEATREE well, I guess we must be sensible and kill all those germs. The Organic "robust" vastly outsold the milder "Light" by the way.

Number 6: GERANIUM And the organic Rose Geranium from Madagascar outsold the Egyptian. A surprise to me. (Although we sell a lot more of the Egyptian because of all the various kits and student kits that contain it.)

Number 5: PEPPERMINT And here the conventionally farmed Midwestern outsold the Organic English. There's simply no predicting!

Number 4: FRANKINCENSE ah, wonderful - healing for skin and spirit. The CO2 extracted was the best seller.

Number 3: EUCALYPTUS we are all going to be breathing freely! And among the varieties we offer, you chose our Radiata most often. (I guess folks are reading Valerie Worwood?)

Number 2: Are you sitting down? HELICHRYSUM! Yes, our Helichrysum italicuum, from Corsica, was our second most ordered essential oil. I've been saying for years that this is the most healing essential oil I know of. It would appear that you believe me!

Number 1: LAVENDER - no surprise, since it is, of course, the "all purpose" oil that everyone uses, best for the beginner, and expert alike.

Of all the Lavender species that we offer, your favorites were, in this order, Bulgarian, Mailette, and the High Altitude.

I was really surprised that the only Citrus oil to make the list was our Pink Grapefruit; and surprised at how many of you are using Sea Buckthorn Berry in your skin care regimes.

Having our Heli come in at the top was just absolutely a delight!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rose de Mai Harvest

By now everyone must know that I love Rose Oil, and my favorite, aromatically, is the rare Rose de Mai. Rosa centifolia, grown and produced in Grasse.

Recently my friend who keeps us supplied sent photos of last year's harvest. (The harvest normally takes place during late April and early May. She tempted me with an invitation to come take part. Now THAT is temptation, indeed.)

More Photos:

And the roses, ready to be moved from the field to the processor:

All photos are property of Albert Vielle. I thank them for sharing! I am imagining what that field must smell like! Heaven?

Free Download - Guided Meditation

Came across this in my email this morning...

Check out Relaxation Suite and you can download a free relaxation recording: Guided Relaxation for Taxpayers. brought to you by the Relaxation Suite LLC and Meg Tocantins, a certified hypnotist with offices in New York City and Stamford, Ct. Meg offers hypnosis sessions by phone, and is creating recorded relaxation sessions to help everyone learn to calm down.

There are a LOT of Aromatherapy remedies for letting go of some of the stress in our daily lives, but meditation is a time tested method that truly does work.

One caveat... it's possible to become TOO relaxed. I was zipping up my email, getting ready to head in to the office. Now I think I'll take a nap first!

Monday, March 23, 2009

wood wandering

as my knee has been feeling better lately i decided to risk a small walk in the woods sunday morning. i had hoped that jack, my oldest dog, would accompany me but he opted out. instead petey did a fine job of being my escort, walking close to me and putting himself between me and the path's edge which has a direct drop downward. to be on the safe side i had one of the many walking sticks george has made for me. (sort of like my reading glasses...i keep several around so i don't have to search for long!)

we went up the trail with the least incline and back where i discovered that i have more control over my knees going uphill. going down is too much of a risk for injury. since i have no trouble at all on the flatland paths, we continued our walk there and discovered that many of our daffodils had faded, but new ones had arrived. it was fun to see what varieties we had planted blindly last fall, the bulbs being gifted to us by our neighbor.

later in the day george and i took lula for a ride. lula is my ancient kawasaki mule atv, but she still has enough get up and go to mosey around all our trails. we stopped near the top of a hill where i did a bit more walking in flat areas while george cut stumps out of the path. i found that one of the trilliums i planted last year was up, and all the muscari and hyacinths. standing still for a few moments i took in the essence of that spot which seems quite sacred to me. i looked up through the hauntingly beautiful canopy the bare trees provide to see a blue and white sky appearing almost like damask. what a soulful way to begin my sprintime!

later,in the garden i found that my lemon balm, from which comes melissa, one of my most favorite essential oils, was up and well on her way to trying to take over my tulip bed! i can scarcely wait to help ms.lemon balm learn to curb her enthusiam and share the space with the many plantings to come!

mother earth is awakening once again with her wonderous plant life, many of which provide us with natural healing for our minds, bodies and spirits. may we all enjoy this wonderous time in our lives!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free Magazine Download

My friend Tina, at the Essential Herbal Magazine, has put the spring issue online for download. Now, this is normally a hardcopy REAL PAPER magazine. The current issue sold out, so she's making it available for download. It's available on the front page of her website.

Scroll down a bit on her page to find the link to the PDF file.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Week Four Blog Drawing

Welcome to week 4 of our Herb Blog Group Contest!

For the week between Friday, March 20 and Thursday, March 26, you can enter simply by entering a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning a sampler of hand-blended herbal teas from, including one each of the following: Moontime Tea, Lover's Tea, Spring in My Step, FemininiTea, Dandy Lion Tea, Hush-A-Bye, Strong As Nails, SereniTea, SmarTea, DigestiviTea, Nursing Mother Tea, Endo-Liver Tea, Love Your Liver Tea, and Mid-Summer Tea has a wide range of herbal products to choose from.

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
Patti’s Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
Aquarian Bath
The Rosemary House

Natures Gift (You're already here!)
Torchsong Studio
The Essential Herbal
Garden Chick

SunRose Aromatics
Herbs from the Labyrinth

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Super Scones

Now, even though I live in the Midsouth; the HOME of great biscuits, I can't made biscuits worth a darn. I'm a Yankee born and raised, and biscuit making isn't in our genes.

BUT... ah, can I make good scones. They have always been a lot of work, and normally I only go to the effort when I have fresh strawberries and heavy cream. Strawberry Shortcake is WORTH the effort.

Recently came across this recipe...and found it one of the fastest and easiest, and BEST I've tried. (and I season them with Orange Oil so that makes them suitable for an aromatherapy blog.)!)

You should own a food processor to make these. They are "do-able" with nothing but a grater, a bowl and a fork, but in the processor they are done faster than my oven can heat up.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and you might want to grease a cookie sheet while you are at it.

Then... with the grating blade of your food processor grate ONE 4 oz stick of FROZEN butter.

(Plan ahead...I always have butter in the freezer.)

Switch to the 'regular' blade and dump in

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Process these until you have a crumbly mess.

Break in one large egg

To 1/2 Cup sour cream add 4 drops of organic orange oil. Add to the processor bowl. (The original called for beating the egg and sour cream together, and adding the grated rind of one large orange. The changes I made work beautifully.)

Process "on and off" until well mixed. You will have a sticky mess on your hands.

Toss in 1/2 cup of raisins, or currants, or "Craisins" (dried cranberries) or dried Cherries (bliss!)
Pulse just two or three times to mix the dried fruit into the dough.

Scrape the contents onto a cutting board, form into a 7 or 8 inch circle that should be about 3/4 inch high. At this point you can sprinkle them with granulated sugar, raw sugar would be even better.

Cut into 8 wedges, place about an inch apart on that greased cookie sheet. Bake in the 400 degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes, until lightly golden. (Mine took 18 minutes.)

These were amazing. Hot with butter. I suspect they'd be very good cold, as well, but there were none left to get cold.

Other suggested combinations.

use Lemon Oil instead of the orange, and add dried blueberries.

Use Almond Flavoring with the dried cherries.

Use Vanilla Extract (one teaspoon?) and chocolate chips.

Please note, the 4 drops of Orange oil gave a subtle flavour, definitely not an "in your face" Orange taste. You could add another two drops..especially if using dried cranberries.

Whenever I go to my favorite bakery, I'm more apt to bring home a couple of scones to heat for breakfast or a bed time snack than some of their richer desserts. I can make a batch of 8 of these faster than I can drive to the bakery, and they surely don't cost $2.00 apiece!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Q & A: Organic?

We frequently are asked "Are your oils Organic?"

My standard answer is "The horticultural status of each oil is listed as part of its description. Many are organic, many are ethically wild-crafted, some are conventionally farmed."

But there is, in truth, much more involved than that.

Many of our oils are what can only be described as "organically grown, not certified." There are MANY small "artisan distillers" who sell all of their product, often prior to harvest, and have neither the financial means nor the free time to jump through all of the administrative hoops that are required to obtain any one of the multitude of organic certifications. Do they meet the criteria? I believe so.

An example: For several years we have offered a French Lavender Mailette. For three years we described it as "In Conversion"... ie, the producer was in the midst of the five year process of getting his fields certified. Today we can describe it as "Organic"... he received the certification.

We will soon be bringing in another French Lavender, grown, harvested and distilled by a personal friend. He is not about to jump through all the hoops required for certification in the EU.
His will be marked "organic, not certified" for lack of a better term.

We have one supplier who offers "certified non sprayed" citrus oils... and some "certified organic"... and another who has never used any pesticide sprays or synthetics... but refuses to even think about getting certified. I try to mark the oils whose certification I have copies of as "certified organic" or EcoCert, or whatever is appropriate.

There are parts of the world that produce oils free of pesticides, free of chemical fertilizers, free of all "non-traditional" or chemical additives. No GMO seeds, no modern chemistry at all. Some growers in these countries have had the resources to become certified. Others do not.

There are other factors involved, as well. One can have a certified organic, poorly distilled oil. The result, of course, is a certified organic mediocre product. I'd rather a perfectly distilled uncertified, or even conventionally farmed product.

Another factor. As stated above, I do have the organic certificates from many of our producers. Will I share them? Not any more. We used to; because some of our manufacturing clients require the certification. A few years ago a fairly well known "name" in our industry asked for a huge bulk quote. She agreed to our pricing, but requested the certificates in advance. I sent them all. The huge order never materialized. But she soon started offering the same list of oils on her website. She quite obviously used the certificates to find my suppliers, and placed her order directly. That was the year we stopped offering the certifications we have on file.

Our descriptions describe the status of the oil as we received it from the producer. Nature's Gift lacks the free time (or the interest!) to go through all of the red tape required to become an organically certified reseller. I have two friends (importers, much larger than we are) who have either completed the process or are in the middle of it. After hearing their adventures in the process, it is not something we plan to undertake.

Hope all of this makes some sense, and adds some clarity to what can be confusing terminology.

Week Three Give-Away

The host of this week's Blog Giveaway is my old friend Roe of SUNROSE AROMATICS. Roseann creates wonderfully nurturing and pampering aromatherapy products. For the week between Friday, March 13 and Thursday, March 19, you can enter simply by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning!!!

The prize is:

Facial Scrub w/ Organic Liquid Soap Set:
Pamper your face with all natural

* apricot kernel meal
* organic liquid castile soap

Mix in the palm of your hand & then apply to your face. A wonderful exfoliate!

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.

Herbs from the Labyrinth
Patti’s Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
Aquarian Bath
The Rosemary House
Nature's Gift
Torchsong Studio
The Essential Herbal
Garden Chick - Where the winners from week #2 will be listed :-)
SunRose Aromatics

eep coming back and keep entering. We have some great prizes coming up, and we'll be having the contests til the middle of May!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weather complaints

Yes, it's March ... which is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. But this is ridiculous!

48 hours ago we had a record high. 80 degrees, here in Middle TN. My apple and pear trees were in full bloom. A beautiful, picture perfect day.

Today we have winter storm warnings, mixed precipitation, sleet, slush, nasty stuff all around! No wonder I am battling pneumonia

Monday, March 9, 2009

Q & A - Scent strength ratios

Sometimes I get email that makes me think...and it seems a shame to waste the time and effort in a reply only one person will see. Thanks to Kristi Coleman for giving me permission to share our conversation.

Last week Kristi wrote the following:

"I'm doing a bit of research into the strengths of scenting materials, and would like to ask you a question. While researching online, I found one place which mentions one ounce of floral wax being equivalent to one half ounce of absolute, but could find no mention of the strength of concretes or essential oils as compared to these two. Could you tell me what, in your experience, the strength of each (ie, how many bottles of perfume or bars of soap it would scent to the same degree) is in comparison?

1/2 oz absolute = 1 oz wax = ? oz concrete = ? oz essential oil"

My Answer:

Kristi, there is no easy answer... "It depends" floral wax, alone, isn't something I chose to use in my soaps... but I often added floral wax to 'boost' the aroma... and I would say that perhaps an ounce of floral wax could replace 5 or 10 mls of absolute.

I never worked with concretes, but they also vary. ie, some concretes yield half their weight in absolute... so they would be half wax and half abs. others only yield about 10% THEY would be 90% wax and 10% abs, you see?

and not all absolutes and oils are of equal fragrant to get a balance of rose 10% and vanilla 10% in our Vanilla Rose Lip Balm, we had to use 4 parts Vanilla 10% to every 1 part Rose 10%... 20% of it was rose, to get an even balance where you knew the vanilla was there.

There are some essential oils where if you add one drop out of several mls of a blend, you'll know the eo is there; there are others that will be totally overwhelmed unless you use almost half of that one oil in the blend.

So there is NO one answer to your question.I know that in most cases it will take two or three ounces of floral wax (at least) to balance out an ounce of pure absolute.

Another factor. I have had "mystery buyers" purchase supposedly the "same" absolute from several established online vendors. All, supposedly pure unadulterated rose absolute from Turkey or Bulgaria, Indian Jasmine Grandiflora, etc.

In some cases, what we purchased was similar to the product we offer. In others, what we purchased was of the same odor intensity as what we offer as a 10% dilution.

Was the vendor adulterating their product? Probably not. But they were buying from producers who did NOT remove all of the solvents from the absolute...or in some other way dilute it. ie, what the vendor brought was NOT as strong as it should have been. (It was also offered at retail for less than I pay the producers we buy from.)

The point I'm making is that perhaps one oz of floral wax might be the equivalent of 1/2 oz of some absolutes; but I would not expect it to. The ONLY way you are going to get the answers that you want are by experimenting, by the drop, with the actual botanicals you plan on using. ie, mix one drop of two oils or absolutes. say... rose absolute and a base note that works well with it.. Sandalwood, Patchouli, any of the woods. see how they balance?

Is one dominant? then add a second drop of the weaker oil. let that stand and see if it's balanced. Then a third. etc. TAKE NOTES! Eventually you will know that with YOUR oils/absolutes, waxes, etc. it will take X parts of this product to equal Y parts of that product, in intensity.

hope that helps some...there are no easy answers.
this past weekend we were blessed with a most excellent preview of the springtime. saturday morning, bidden by the sunshine streaming through my windows, i pulled on my hiking boots and grabbed a walking staff. my old dog jack and i headed to the woodland behind my house. george, my husband, fired up our four wheel utility cart, fondly known as 'lula', thinking we could ride the pathway through the hills. (lula is a most welcome addition to our family since i began to have knee problems and dare not risk the climb on foot.) turned out lula had a problem of her own, so we parked her until she can get a small part replaced.
however, the lower land has a lovely path, as well, which i can maneuver fairly easily, so we struck out. at the end of the lowland path i found my first daffodils of the year, 'buttercups' george calls them. i picked three for a vase and left the rest. these were the first naturalized flowers i have found since we moved to our place, so it was a mildly exciting event for me!( big smile.) We did a 'tour', checking the beds and hiding places we have planted, gauging the progress...making predictions. a lovely time.
it slips my mind in the depths of winter how uplifted my spirit can be with even a small dose of sunshine. (maybe that's why citrus oils are so uplifting!) the short trek saturday morning was in truth a cleansing, as though i'd been allowed to jump forward in time a couple weeks for a taste of the rebirth to come. with that in mind i turn to planning for the time of balance drawing nigh, when the duration of light and darkness are the same. which oils should i use to honor that fleeting moment and the beginning of renewal which will follow?
to begin i will call upon Black Spruce. though some think of it as a wintry oil, i find spruce useful at anytime i need refreshing. it puts my energy moving on the right circuit. then, German Chamomile to shake things up a bit. by shaking things up i am loosening old habits and stale modes of thought and perception. to make room for fresher ideas and new ways of doing and being i choose lovely lemongrass. to encourage the expansion of my life experience i can think of no more radiant choice .
i will use geranium for balance. after all of the shaking and clearing i need to attune to my harmony once again. just as Mother Earth finds her harmony after the upheaval of the winter darkness, just as there comes that moment when light and dark are the same, geranium will nudge me into equilibrium. bring forward all the new ideas and perceptions i mentioned before...petitgrain, to open, to awaken. petitgrain to release my hoarded memories that can now burst forth like an opening flower.
as marge would say, "i think that's a plan".
bright blessing to all who enter here and to your loved-ones!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Second Give Away

Welcome to week 2 of our Herb Blog Group Contest!

For the week between Friday, March 6 and Thursday, March 12, you can enter simply by entering a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning a Fairyland Cookie Cutter and Fairyland Recipe Card, a gift from Karen Creel at GardenChick.

Each cookie recipe comes with 1 "friend of the fairies" fairy cookie cutter and fairy sprinkles. Cutters include bird, dragonfly, fairy, gnome, flower,butterfly – Karen will choose one for you!

Garden Chick has a delightful selection of products that are either created by Karen or something she found on her adventures and loves enough to share! She has some great recipes available for snaring, as well, a definite must visit for the herbal cook.

and the first week's winner is...

Oddly enough, I had to reject the first three numbers drawn because I had no way to contact them. No Blogger ID, no Google ID, no email address.

In case you come back to look... FILLY, you are the lucky winner!

I'm emailing the lucky winner and she'll be contacted by Tina at The Essential Herbal for her mailing address for the subscription.

folks, if you don't want to fill out contact information at Blogger, and you don't want to put your email address out there for the automatic spam harvesters, it's a really good idea to do something like: myname AT yahoo DOT com. No machine will harvest that address; but people with prizes to give out will be able to contact you.