Saturday, October 31, 2009

Synthetic scents and marketing

I'm remembering a small town in Colorado during our recent trip west. One of the things we did upon occasion was drop in on businesses that just seemed interesting. Sometimes left samples, sometimes a 'finished product', sometimes an autographed copy of my book. "Marketing visits"

There was a charming little shop on a charming little Main Street. The signs out front advertised "Handmade Soaps and Toiletries." Oh, wow. Of course we had to visit!

Walked into a delightful shop. Packaging was attractive, nice range of products. The bell on the door rang as I opened it, and the resident soapmaker, complete with long apron and elbow length gloves came out from the back.

Unfortunately, I was headed for the door as she arrived. Not sure what fragrances she was using in her products, but I could feel an asthma attack coming on. My throat and chest were closing up, going into a spasm, and I knew if I didn't get out of there we would be headed to the ER.

I apologized to her, said that I couldn't BREATHE in there. She nodded understandingly. I forget her comment; but it was clear that I was not the first person to react that way to her shop. She was familiar with the reaction.

That struck me as so sad. Now, I have topical reactions to many of our Essential Oils...I've managed to develop Multiple chemical Sensitivity because of unwise use of undiluted oils decades ago. But I never have respiratory problems from exposure to pure, natural aromatics. (One possible exception...there is a "Bishop" in Greenland who insists on mailing us incense that he makes. We no longer allow his "gifts" in the building!)
But that only makes me question his ingredients.

This woman is devoting her life to creating her products. Her shop is charming, her products visually appealing. How much better they would be if she used pure essential oils to fragrance them? I know had I been able to stay, visit, and talk soapmaking I would have been a customer.

At the recent AIA convention, Debbie Freund gave a wonderful moving presentation on Olfaction. One of the points she made was how the toxins in our environment affect our blood chemistry, and she referenced the rising tide of diseases that, evidence shows, may be tied to the overload of synthetic scents that surround us. Our bodies are made to co-exist with natural aromas, not with synthetics. I remember that presentation while remembering the charming little shop I couldn't visit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There's A Mouse in the House

By Christi

Well, the wettest October on record in Middle Tennessee is resulting in furry critters aka field mice trying to take shelter indoors. For the first time in the 11 years since I bought my house, I have mice. I learned at Dollar General in my neighborhood that eradication products for mice are flying off the shelves due to the problem. I bought several types of traps, including the new "humane" type where you place food inside, set it up, the mouse walks in, & click, it snaps shut. You then take the mouse at least one mile away & free it. Oddly enough, I've caught two mice so far, & both with the humane trap containing some dry cat food. The others have eluded me & none have gone for the harsher traps (smart mice?) even though they contain peanut butter.

I decided this would be a good time to test the Peppermint Essential Oil theory in my house. For years there have been reports that mice HATE Peppermint Essential Oil. The method most recommended is putting the oil on cotton balls & placing them around the known places of entry. (or where you have seen mice droppings) Of course, you need to be mindful of household pets when placing the cotton balls. I also filled an atomizer with water, Peppermint, & a small amount of alcohol, & sprayed around doors, windows, etc. Will be interesting to see if Peppermint is a deterrent, once I get rid of all the mice that are currently scurrying around.

Any natural advice for getting rid of mice other than what I've mentioned?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AIA Conference Review

Friday, close to midnight we arrived at the hotel in Crystal Lake to enjoy the second half of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists 2009 conference.

You can see the list of speakers and presentations at the link above. I was a bit nervous about attending - I am probably their newest member, and the membership is mostly composed of true professionals in this field I love. Teachers, health care professionals, researchers. (What am I doing here?) I'm here to learn, of course, and perhaps introduce Nature's Gift to some new friends.

Laraine Kyle greeted us in the lobby, bless her heart. Helped get our luggage up to the room, and visited and played scratch and sniff with some new oils for awhile. Then off to bed. (After 10 hours in the car on a rainy night, we were exhausted.)

Saturday started with a big hug from Jim Llewellyn of Aroma-Tours. It's been over a decade since we met in Seattle, and it was good to see him and Robbi again.The day's presentations started with a stirring talk by Robbi Zeck, author of The Blossoming Heart. "Passion and Purpose-Live a Visionary Life"... What remains in my mind is her acronym for "Passion"... Pass *I* On. She shared a collection of tools to help us live an authentic, passionate life... to live our passion. It was an empowering speech.

After Robbi, Laraine Kyle, of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy shared her success in using the oils in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Laraine established an ongoing program that allowed the most ill and chronic patients to participate in some aromatic self caring activities. One comment in her report leaped out at me: "It was gratifying to witness the ability of severely depressed and overtly psychotic patients to be relieved of psychological distress, overcome inertia, and respond to the positive influence of essential oils." She described several methods of "aromatic intervention" that really made a difference in the comfort level, both physical and psychic, of the patient population.

After Laraine, Anita James from the UK shared her experiences using the oils in two classroom situations, one for an "Infants School" (ages 3 and 4) and a "Nursery School" (ages 5 to 7.) The children were allowed to select their favorite oils...a blend of which were used in a diffuser in the classroom (the favorites were Orange, Lemon, and Roman Chamomile.) "At risk" children were allowed to select their own oils to create their own "Happy Blend". When possible, parents were involved to carry the activities over to the home. Parents were often taught the benefits of a stable routine, a bedtime bath (perhaps with the chosen oils) or back rub, again with the use of the oils. The results were marvelous, hyperactivity calmed, improved focus, and a general improvement in many of the problems the children brought with them from home.

After the lunch break, Mindy Green shared resources for both the organization and individual aromatherapists. She strongly urged that we at the very least get on the mailing list for the American Herbal Products Association, since they have been dealing with government regulation for years. This talk was a direct lead in to a presentation by Ashish Talati on regulatory compliance, "What you can and can't say on your labels".

In total honesty, I found that presentation totally depressing. Our labels must say "for external use only, not for internal use" or something similar. If one is offering a herbal supplement, one may legally say "supports the respiratory system" for example. But if a product is not for internal use, it is obviously not a supplement, and one can't even hint that it might have an effect on health or wellbeing. A frustrating dilemma, being unable to state what we know is truth about aromatic products.

To end the afternoon, Farida Irani gave a presentation on the use of Ayurvedic Aromatherapy. In honesty, I had trouble wrapping my brain around what she was saying. (Reminds me of the first time I read Gabriel Mojay's "Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit"... the emphasis on Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts was a challenge.)

After that, a book signing that didn't happen, but I *did* get to spend some time visiting with Ann Harman, of MorningMyst Botanicals... Hydrosol producer par excellence! (Why she wasn't a presenter is a puzzlement to me!)

Then..the banquet..which we hadn't planned on attending, but are delighted we did. We got to watch, stand and applaud as friends were honored by the association. FUN!

More on the Sunday program later.

Overall impression...I came away from so many presentations just in awe of the differences that can be made in individual lives by appropriate uses of the powerful oils we all love! The members of the AIA are doing such important work!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nature's Gift Sharing the Gift of Aromatherapy with U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

We’re partnering with the United Aromatherapy Effort (UAE) to provide aromatherapy care packages to U.S. Troops serving in Afghanistan. We recently shipped over 150 items for the cause, including: Sine Ease Inhalers, Fresh Aire Spray, & Germ Beater Spray, after receiving an urgent call for action from UAE’s Sylla Sheppard-Hanger. The packages are being distributed by soldiers at “Camp Phoenix,” near Kabul, among some of the 60,000 troops stationed in the region.

We were made aware of service members suffering from sinus problems, congestion, & other respiratory ailments due to the dusty terrain & immediately thought of offering free Sine Ease inhalers to help out. The Fresh Aire & Germ Beater Sprays are for freshening up the air in small tents & living quarters, as well as wiping down cabinets, counters, & other dirty areas. We were told the soldiers had grown very tired of industrial “pine” type cleaners & we know both Fresh Aire & Germ Beater smell delightful which will no doubt be a nice change. Plus both sprays contain antibacterial properties, & the Germ Beater includes oils with anti-viral & anti-fungal effects.

We’ve been involved with the UAE since 2001 (it was set up in response to 9/11), but Sylla recently expanded its mission to offer aromatherapy relief to active U.S. Military Service members serving in Afghanistan after learning about the need & in hopes of making the year-long tour of duty a little more tolerable. Our donation is just a small way we can serve our troops & boost morale, while letting them know we appreciate their continued efforts and sacrifice.

For more about UAE programs visit:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It *works*, it really does!

Some of you know that I was spending last weekend (the first weekend in Oct.) on a women's retreat. The dear friend I was riding out with, and rooming with, had been ill the previous week. A horrible cough, a fever, all the normal "flu or virus" signs. I knew she had been ill the previous week; we had taken her a CoolMist diffuser, some FluFoil, and some cough syrup the previous weekend. But she had gone back to work, and was, as far as I knew, better.

Early Friday afternoon she picked us up (a third friend was riding with us.) "Did you bring the diffuser and FluFoil?" "Oh, no, I forgot it."
I grabbed my nebulizing diffuser and my bottle of FloFoil, tucked them in a box for safekeeping, and off we went. By Friday night my roommate was feverish again, flushed, coughing and generally feeling crummy. I diffused FluFoil all the time that we were in the room that weekend, and used our KleenHandz during the day while the other women at the retreat were using the provided hand sanitizer.
Now, those who know me know that I have a compromized immune system; if I am exposed to something, I'll catch it. And since I have COPD, "it" will normally turn into bronchial pneumonia before I even realize I'm sick.
Somehow I managed to avoid catching whatever viral ailment my friend has battled for almost three weeks. (She, by the way, had to take Monday and Tuesday off from work, but reported on Friday that she finally is better. Whatever it is had run its course.)
Now, I have an opinion on the wisdom of attending a weekend long event when you are sick with something apparently contagious. (Everyone at her office has been passing this illness around for weeks.) I also think that the combination of sleeping with FluFoil in the air, and using our KleenHandz during the day protected me from her mystery virus.

For whatever my experience is worth...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diffusing Blue Tansy for Chronic & Seasonal Allergies

By Christi

Last week was allergen hell for me getting worse & worse by the end of the week & totally full blown misery. None of my normal over the counter remedies were making any difference & then I realized on Thursday that I had been out of Blue Tansy, which is a staple for me in staving off histamine reactions. Friday night I took home our office aromastone, along with a 5 ml bottle of Blue Tansy Essential Oil, & immediately set it in my bedroom. As it warmed, my entire upstairs filled with lovely Blue Tansy. Since I was feeling so badly, the dogs & I got into bed, & were asleep in no time! I took a few breaks from plugging it in throughout the weekend because diffusing Blue Tansy tends to make one nod off to sleep...but using it while sleeping made a huge difference. It took away wheezing & much discomfort within 36-48 hours. Today (Monday) I've taken NO medication & my chest & nose & throat & eyes all feel relatively normal & allergy free. I don't normally diffuse Blue Tansy, but use it in an inhaler or on a tissue. However, after my experience this weekend, I am truly amazed at how well it works in the aromastone diffused throughout my bedroom. Remember, when diffusing, it can be quite relaxing, so you might go easy on it if you are trying to study or get ready to go to work or anywhere you need to be alert. I am convinced it is more healing & gentle than any of the OTC medicines that were not really working plus making me feel crazy. Blue Tansy relaxes and calms. It is definitely worth a try if you suffer from chronic allergies or even seasonal ones. For more about Blue Tansy, see