Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sara's Sanctuary - and recipe

Most of you know my friend Sara Holmes, of Botanical Healing Arts and Sara's Sanctuary, at Lake Sara in Effingham IL. She has contributed to this blog, and to our newsletters.  This week she was interviewed by a local TV show twice, and I thought you might enjoy seeing it.  I've been longing to be able to spend a weekend retreat at Sara's Sanctuary. After watching the video, I'm looking for ways to get to Illinois! 

This first video is shot at the sanctuary and describes its surroundings and what you might experience on a weekend retreat.

In the second video, shot in the studio,  Sara shares a recipe for relaxing bath salts. One of the reasons she is such a great teacher is that she explains why each ingredient is important; why she chooses Epsom Salts instead of plain sea salt, for example.  Pay special attention to the small blue essential oil bottles and the Bail Jar in the video...our clients will recognize them.  I love seeing our products used!

What really delights me, though, is seeing someone who has contributed so much to the art of Aromatherapy, who has worked tirelessly to educate and to heal receiving some publicity.

If you are in South/Central Illinois, I'd suggest that you contact Sara at her website, above, and plan a relaxing weekend retreat!

Bed Sores - prevention and care

Another article by our friend and client Lisa Browder. Lisa is a clinical aromatherapist in hospice. She is the Nevada Director for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and has been a speaker at conferences for the National Hospice & Palliative Care Association, California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control.

Decubitus ulcers, also known as “pressure sores” or “bed sores,” are a constant concern in both hospice and nursing homes.  They occur when there is pressure on the skin that covers any bony prominence, and that not only includes common areas like the sacrum, coccyx and spine, but also elbows, heels, knees, hips, shoulders – even backs of ears and the bridge of the nose where an oxygen mask might be sitting.

Preventing their development is clearly the goal but that can be devilishly difficult since it takes as little as two hours for a bed sore to develop. And when the body’s capacity to heal has begun to diminish - meaning the heart is no longer strong enough to pump an adequate amount of blood (and thus nourishing red blood cells) to the damaged skin to help with wound healing and tissue reparation - it may not be possible to prevent a progression to a Stage IV decubitus ulcer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help.

Stage I pressure sores are characterized by a redness that doesn’t blanch when touched and this is the point when frequent repositioning of the patient may be most helpful. It’s also a good time to use a combination of skin replenishing fixed oils like Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum), Argan (Argana spinosa), Avocado (Persea Americana Miller), Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis), Blackcurrant Seed (Ribes nigrum) and/or Macadamia Nut (Macadamia ternifolia). Add a combination of anti-inflammatory and cell regenerative essential oils like Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), German Chamomile (Matricaria reticulata), Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) and/or Everlasting (Helichrysum italicum). Massage ever so gently into the skin and leave the area uncovered.
A Stage II bed sore may have an angry purple color, indicating a deep tissue injury. It may either start to show a slight cratering or appear like a surface scrape. Cratering is exactly what you’d think: it’s a sunken area that’s wider at the top of the wound and circles downward, eventually revealing fatty tissue and even bone. Continue to work with your anti-inflammatory and cell regenerative essential oils but consider adding something antibacterial – the most popular being Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It has a good track record in hospitals and hospice and has been shown to be effective in treating osteomyelitis and infected chronic wounds (Halcon, et al; American Journal of Infection Control, 2004). I would consider shifting your application to the periphery of the wound because what you don’t want to happen at this stage is for the top to cover over but have the wound continue to grow underneath. Nurses refer to this as an unstageable wound because they’re unable to gauge the depth and extent of the tissue damage and if there’s a thin layer on top but infection underneath, it can have severe consequences. Their protocol from this Stage onward will include keeping the pressure sore well and tightly covered.

With Stage III decubitus ulcers, the wound has a distinct cratering effect that reveals subcutaneous fatty tissues. A wound at this stage is well on its way to being irreparable and my focus shifts to infection and odor control.  The most virulent bug to avoid is Staphylococcus aureus and there are many effective essential oils to consider using. I would forego the fixed oils for the Stage III and IV decubitus ulcers and use pure essential oils either around the perimeter of the wound prior to dressing or include them on the dressing itself.  Since the dressing must be airtight, nurses don’t want anything oily near the edges of the bandaging. Although the phenols and ketones are anti-infectious, you must always be mindful of the elderly or terminal patient’s fragile skin in order to avoid irritation at the application site or cause burning in an open wound. I have found that many of our hospice patients experience a heightened effect to essential oils that I would not ordinarily think twice about using (and not just for wound care). I would, therefore, use monoterpinols like Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and/or Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) with something soothing like Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) and maybe a touch of something for odor control like Peppermint (Mentha x piperita).

If, however, the patient is otherwise relatively healthy, you may be able to continue to address tissue reparation. As an example, the husband of one of our volunteers had a decubitus ulcer on his back that, due to his diabetes, wasn’t healing and had shown total resistance to traditional pharmaceuticals. His wife described it as being the size of a fifty-cent piece. For three years, he had endured a weekly debridement of the dead tissue and his wife had changed his dressing every night.

I had her apply Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) around the perimeter of the wound at each dressing change for a week, stop applying it for a week and then resume this routine. After she reported that the tissue appeared to be healing (and that means not becoming covered over but healing from the bottom of the wound upward), I added Everlasting (Helichrysum italicum) and had her repeat the week-on, week-off regimen. About two months later, she reported that the wound was dime-sized, the skin was significantly less inflamed and the depth of the wound was much shallower.  Last week, she reported that the doctor had removed the final dressing from the completely healed wound and her husband was able to go swimming for the first time in years. The thing to keep in mind with this anecdotal study is that the patient was not elderly or terminal and his body still had the capacity to aid in the healing process. Additionally, he was being seen regularly by a physician to be sure the wound was healing properly.

Stage IV decubitus ulcers often “tunnel” all the way to the bone and may have an odor that is unpleasant due to the continual sloughing of dead tissue. The odor is sometimes more debilitating to the patient than the wound itself. He/she is aware of the foul smell and notices when visitors begin to taper off or family begins to comment. It can quickly become a source of stress and severe depression. There are some interesting studies on the positive effects of essential oils in alleviating the odor and of the dramatic effect to a patient’s emotional state. One German study combined clindamycin and chlorophyll (their standard pharmaceuticals for Stage IV pressure sores) with a mixture of Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Grapefruit essential oils (specific species not identified) and found that the smell associated with necrotic tissue completely dissipated in 2-3 days of treatment (Warnke, P.H., et al; Cancer, 2004). These results would be a tremendous benefit to our hospice patients and I hope to pursue my own study in 2012 on the effects of essential oils on the odor associated with decubitus ulcers and thus the patient’s frame of mind.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Olfaction linked to early dementia diagnosis?

A guest blog article from my dear friend Sara Holmes regarding some research she has been involved with:

Reflecting on the busy and interesting year of 2011, I am grateful for many
new aromatic endeavors as a professional certified and registered aromatherapist.
One of the most interesting and productive efforts this year was working in conjunction with the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois, and Dr. William Gingold.
      Dr. Gingold is a true visionary in advancing the health and wellness of the senior population.  He is currently the Director of Family Medicine Research and Aging at the University of Illinois. I have been fortunate to prepare and deliver aromatic inhalers that are being used in testing with The Henning’s Smell Prism involved in research being used to determine whether assessing the effectiveness of the olfactory sense of seniors may offer early warning signs that could possibly lead to earlier detection of dementia diseases such as Alzheimers. There are currently 5.4 million people living with Alzheimers disease and by 2050 there will be 60 million! ( ).
        With the support and help of Marge Clark, Sylla Sheppard Hanger, and Kelly Holland Azzaro we determined essential and natural oils appropriate for the odor domains required to work in conjunction with the Hennings Smell Prism. The odor
domains required: flowery, fruity, spicy, resinous, foul and burnt odors. Marge was a great help in providing me with birch tar samples for our burnt odor and it was a perfect choice!
         The other odor domains were much easier to select. Those of you who work with essential oils know that we have volumes of flowery, fruity, resinous, and spicy odors to choose from and so these choices were not as challenging. When I last saw Dr. Gingold in October he said, “ the aromatic inhalers were lasting longer than anticipated and that the research was going well”.   I look forward to participating in this research as it continues and anticipate that this new information could profoundly change the way many dementia related health issues are diagnosed. It makes perfect sense that the olfactory receptors which are high inside the nasal cavity with as many as 10,000,000 cells and are responsible for relaying important messages to the brain could be a significant piece of the dementia puzzle. Exciting opportunities like this offer tremendous satisfaction in the field of Aromatherapy, which most people incorrectly associate with just perfume and pleasant odors.
              Another blessing this year was the opportunity to meet and chat with Cynthia Loving of Loving Scents. I met with Cynthia at this years Alliance of International Aromatherapist Convention in Minneapolis, MN.  Cynthia has a long history of working with essential oils and Alzheimers.  This meeting gave us the opportunity to brainstorm on some ideas for what we thought might be opportunities for further research in this field. Although we have had busy schedules this year, we have had a few conversations that lead me to believe that the future for aromatherapy research in the field of Alzheimers and dementia has great potential for success and benefits for the many patients and families who are suffering.
               So my prayer for 2012 would be that through the use of clinical aromatherapy  that all aromatherapists may be involved in moving aromatherapy forward into more health, research and educational venues that will bless our planet, our people and all living things. “ Be the change you wish to see in the world” ghandi
Thanks and Blessings, Sara

Oh Christmas Tree...

I miss having a fresh Christmas tree.  But I am past the point in my life when I can deal with putting up and taking down (let alone purchasing and bringing home) one of the fresh cut Christmas trees that gave me so many years of pleasure.  So for several years I've had a "fake tree."  For so many years, that my tree was one that needed every branch painstakingly inserted in the center pole, at great cost to scratched skin and pinched fingers.

This year I decided to splurge on a NEW tree.  And it is a beauty.  a 7 1/2 foot Virgin Pine. (What on EARTH is a Virgin Pine?  I don't know either. But it's lovely. And has its own lights. Even nicer. LESS work for me.)

It's been a joy decorating it, with carols playing in the background, deciding which ornaments go where, remembering the sources of so many of the ornaments, or the story behind them. This is the wee gingham-covered cotton ball wreath that Jezebel would NOT leave on the tree. She spent the whole week before Christmas tugging until she removed it, and then hiding it from me.

Some of those ornaments are over 40 years old, and I treasure them.   But something is missing. No matter how lovely, *no* artificial tree is going to fill my home with the aroma of a fresh cut Fir, or Pine, or Spruce!

Thank heavens for the essential oils  - especially the conifer (needle) oils.  I've always filled my house with them at this time of year.  But this year I found an even simpler way to make the tree smell "right."   If you will look very closely near the white ball with the green bow painted on it.. slightly to the right and below it....picture 5 o'clock... you'll see one of our wee clay pot diffusers. Normally I keep one in my car, with Fresh Aire in it.  This one has Balsam Fir.  I used one with the glazed bottom in case it might drip on the "foliage"...and removed the cork so that the oils could fill the room.   It's hidden deep in the branches, near the trunk, and not far from a light, which warms and diffuses the oil.

*THE* answer to an artificial tree.  At least, for me it is.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Report - for the Cat Owner

Whole Health for Happy Cats - A guide to keeping your cat naturally healthy, happy and well fed.

A client mentioned this book, said that she found us through a mention, and because I always buy a copy of any book that mentions Nature's Gift as a source, I ordered it from Amazon, even though there are no longer any cats in my household.

Now, you must remember, I have always been a dog person, always had dogs in my family, and was never a cat lover. Until, during a time of great change in my life, a wee black kitten, too young to be away from her Momma, showed up on our patio. My daughter took her in and shortly thereafter, delivered her to my apartment. Jezebel shared my life from 1989 until 2005.  I wish, when we brought her home, we had a copy of this wonderful book.

Remember, I'm used to raising dogs... a bowl of dry food, lots of fresh water, toys to chase, and they were happy.

I thought "add a litter box to that" and that was all she needed.

Years after she left us I found this wonderful little book, and learned all the other things that would have made her life better.  My *first* reason for reading the book was to make very sure that the author didn't recommend using essential oils with your feline family, since cats can not metabolize them.  Safety check over. She gives good advice.

What she does suggest are nutritional guidelines, ranging from a totally raw diet (best for your cat, but not everyone has time) all the way to commercial cat foods, along with natural herbal supplements which can increase your cat's well being.

Two chapters cover both home care for minor ailments and the times that you must get your baby to the vet as quickly as possible. That chapter also gives some hints on finding a veterinarian who will be at least amenable to holistic animal care, and guidelines about vaccinations, spaying/neutering, what tests are necessary.  The final chapter includes a guide to help you understand cat behaviour.    (Among the suggestions for helping cope with mood swings and behaviour triggered by emotional problems are a list of hydrosols for different emotional states! YES!)
The book closes with a long list of resources. We are honored to be included.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Pepper Oil and Circulation

First, a personal anecdote.  Years ago, when Nature's Gift was just me, I had an order for two small bottles of Black Pepper Essential Oil.  I was working in the back room/work room, pipetting the oils into the 5 or 15 ml bottles, sealing, labeling, etc.   When the task was finished, I came back into the family room and was told "You're running a fever!"  "No I'm not, don't be silly!"  "Well, go look in the're all flushed."

And I was.

That was my first experience with the circulatory effects of Black Pepper Essential Oil. I later learned that Black Pepper is a capillary expander, thus increasing circulation in the extremities, and, indirectly, lowering blood pressure. (More blood in the extremities = slightly less in the heart, I'm told.)   I know that inhaling Black Pepper eo on a tissue or in an inhaler can warm up frigid fingers and toes.   I had been told that inhaling the essential oil would make it easier for a technician to draw blood.  I keep meaning to test this one out, since I have very difficult veins... they are hard to see, and they roll. No fun for the nurse or technician, and definitely no fun for me!

During Dr. Jane Buckle's presentation at the recent AIA conference, she discussed a case study done in a phlebotomy lab, with patients with a history of problems accessing their veins.

A 20% Piper Nigrum dilution was used, applied to the skin 10 minutes prior the the attempt to draw blood.   

There were three different "grades of difficulty" used to evaluate the patients:
  • No vein visible or palpable
  • Vein visible but not palpable
  • Vein visible and palpable.
It was a small study, only 10 participants, but of the 10,  2 went from no vein visible to vein fully visible and palpable, while 8 went from "vein visible but not palpable."  

Now this is a much stronger dilution of Black Pepper than we normally suggest using, but it would be applied only to the area where the blood will be drawn.  I would love to see a follow up study using either an inhaler, or a lower dilution.  I'm also thinking that if I am ever again hospitalized, I hope I have a roller bottle of diluted Black Pepper with me!

At any rate, if you, like me, have "bad veins" this might save you a lot of pain and frustration. 

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Mimi's Scented Garden

    If you are looking for a way to introduce your children or grandchildren to the joys of aromatics, my friend Sara Holmes has written just the book.

    A delightful way to introduce children to the scented aromatics, herbs and flowers, and the oils they give us.

    Four children visit their Mimi's aromatic garden, learning the names, aromas and tastes of their chosen herbs.  Sara introduces several simple crafts which elementary school aged children should be able to create with some adult involvement.

    (Remember, if the project involves using the essential oils, it is essential that an adult supervise!)

    This is a delightful little book that can start a child on a lifelong journey, learning about the world of healing plants.

    Available from Sara Holmes at Botanical Healing Arts.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    An Every Day Retreat

    I don't often copy other people's articles, but I think so many of us can benefit from this:

    Used with permission from Sharon Roemmel. Align and Thrive, the monthly ezine of her Practically Enlightened Business, connects business owners with practical solutions that engage their wholeness.For more info go to

    Finding retreat

    If you're like most of the people I talk with your life is full. To the top. You might even call it overwhelming.
    A retreat sounds wonderful. Time to relax, pamper yourself, sit with your feet up...
    But even the idea of creating a retreat may sound stressful. Even if money's not an issue, you still have to make time to find a place. Then you need to block out time in your schedule to be away from work.

    Every day retreat

    What if you just can't see getting away for a week or even a weekend? Are you doomed to a life of drudgery? Don't despair. You can retreat everyday.
    Several years ago I worked with a busy doctor. In addition to her practice she was a single mom to two bright and busy teenage girls. That's a full plate.  She knew she needed to reduce her stress. She needed more breathing room.
    It wasn't that she never found time for retreat. She found weekend time to head to the coast and went to Italy for a couple of weeks. But her day-to-day life was intense enough that she knew she needed something more integrated with the rest of her life. What she was doing felt like getting a big glass of water and then expecting that to quench her thirst for a month.
    So we looked at her life to discover ways she could add a bit of retreat into each day. She turned her request for rest into a win-win. When she invited female clients to take a deep breath and bring their arms overhead in preparation for their breast exam, she mirrored the request. She paused from doing and inhaled deeply. This way she got a mini-retreat multiple times a day.
    Another woman I worked with incorporated a breathing practice into her daily commute. She had ten minutes between the time she dropped her daughter off at school and the time she started her workday. Those ten minutes helped renew her every morning.

    Adding Your Pause

    How can you add in a pause?
    Feel like you'd benefit from an integrated refresh pause?
    1.     First look for something you do everyday. Maybe it's answering the phone, driving your car, or checking your schedule.
    2.     Next pair a pause with that activity. It could be focused attention on your breath, a moment of mindfulness, a prayer, a chant, a gratitude.
    3.     Repeat. The renewal comes from the regular pairing of these activities. Commit to this new habit for the rest of the year and notice if you feel less like a desperate animal waiting to be let out of a cage

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    More on MRSA

    At the recent AIA conference, Dr. Jane Buckle, one of the two keynote speakers, presented several case studies demonstrating common issues in healthcare and ways that our precious essential oils could be helpful.

    One group of case studies revolved around MRSA.  Several studies showed mixed results. (It's important to remember that even when we don't get the results we had hoped for and/or predicted, the studies are still important. We need to know what doesn't work, as well as what does.)

    First case study used Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Globulous and Lavender, both individually and blended.  The results? The tea tree and the mixture showed no growth  after 24 hours; the Eucalyptus showed slowed growth, and the Lavender slightly slower growth. However, after 48 hours, the tea tree and the blend still showed no growth, while the Lavender and the Eucalyptus showed noticeable growth.   My notes indicate that the combination of the three oils was more effective than the Tea Tree oil alone.

    Another study showed the use of tea tree oil in treating abcessed wounds.  Undiluted tea tree oil was applied to the wound dressings (*not directly to the open wound*).  Within 24 hours there was a significant difference in healing in the wounds with the tea tree in the dressing.

    Another case study (this one I loved!) showed the use of "a tea tree/lavender body wash" in addition to conventional antibiotics.  Every patient recovered completely with no further outbreaks.  

    The last MRSA case study concerned patients with either End Stage Renal Disease or Diabetes with MRSA infected wounds.  In this case, a 15% dilution of TeaTree oil in Aloe Vera Gel was applied directly to the wounds.   The results were so effective so quickly that all the wounds (the "control" subjects) were also switched to the Tea Tree/Aloe treatment.

    I love case studies!  Dr. Buckle's dream is to have an online database where case studies may be collected and compiled.   The healers working with essential oils in their practices will probably never have the funding to do the huge research projects that big Pharma puts together. However bit by bit, we can add to the body of knowledge.  And perhaps we can use some of the experiences shared in case studies in our own self care.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Aromatherapy vs MRSA

    Because of my own "near death experience" from having MRSA in my bloodstream, I've been eager to find ways that the general public can protect themselves against these potentially deadly strains of Staph.

    In 2006, Debi Rodriguez, one of Jane Buckle's instructors, and a nurse/researcher at St. Clare's Hospital in Wisconsin contacted us about doing some research to see if topical blends of Lavender and Tea Tree oils could indeed kill MRSA. The answer was a resounding yes, in the laboratory.  We tested a wide range of dilutions, in soap and in aloe vera, and when Debi was satisfied, our MERCY line of products was launched.

    Almost two years ago St. Clare's published this article describing the sorts of success Debi has had with the MERCY product line.

    We've not had the opportunity to do clinical testing to establish the effectiveness of these products; if we *did* do the testing then the government would probably insist that we were selling drugs, not cleansers and skincare products, so it is probably just as well. In the five years since we've made the MERCY products available we've had amazing feedback, some of which has been shared in this blog and in our newsletter.  We know MERCY can make a difference in people's lives.

    Fast forward.  In the Spring of 2009, Maggie Tisserand contacted us with information about some of the testing that had been done on her new essential oil blend, named "Benchmark Thyme" - a blend of several different cultivars, designed to give the gentleness of Thyme Linalol, with the antibacterial effectiveness of Tea Tree oil.  At that time, Maggie told us of research indicating that Benchmark Thyme was more effective than Tea Tree oil at killing the bacteria causing MRSA.  But we could not see the research; she was keeping it for her book.

    I was frustrated, and a bit skeptical, but we brought in our first couple of kilos of Benchmark Thyme.  Some clinicians started working with it, and reported successful results, but with the known efficacy of our MERCY products, we saw no need to change any formulas.  For quite a long time, Nature's Gift was the only North American source for the oil.

    We waited, impatiently, for the book to arrive.  This summer, we received our review copy of the book, and a handful of others to share with those who might be best able to use the information.  Is it any surprise that my first copy went to Debi Rodriguez?

    The book does, indeed, show that Benchmark Thyme has a faster "kill rate" than does Tea Tree Oil.    More than that it gives both the health care professional and the layman good solid *valuable* information on how to protect themselves against this "superbug."

    I remember after my hospitalization with MRSA my doctor prescribing an antibacterial ointment to be put in my nostrils, to lower the bacterial count.  Maggie suggests using any one of several antibacterial essential oils, Benchmark Thyme, of course, being one of them, but others - Manuka, Fragonia, Tea Tree, Clary Sage - also being effective. A 1% dilution,  in Jojoba, applied with a cotton swab nightly can "decolonize" the nostrils, a common place that MRSA hides. As time allows, I will repost more of Maggie's suggestions.  If you can't (or shouldn't) wait, please order the book from her at the link below. 

    With the increasing incidents of "community based" MRSA (as opposed to MRSA caught in a hospital) it become more and more important that we take responsibility for our own wellbeing, and be proactive against this major threat.    Maggie gives suggestions for defending our selves, with formulas for "aromatic waters" to gargle and wash wounds,  blends and dilutions for both washing and treating broken skin to prevent infection, methods to keep our environment safe, concerns about pets, infants, the elderly.  This appears to be a valuable handbook.

    Personally, I've been excited to read the alternative treatments suggested. Because of my wellknown allergy/sensitivity to Lavender essential oil, I can't use our MERCY line of products; so finding other suggestions has been a gift.  More important though, the MERCY products have a stronger dilution of the essential oil blend than I am comfortable having people use on a daily basis.  If, by working with the Benchmark Thyme, or with some of the other suggested essential oils, we can come up with an equally effective blend in lower dilutions;  or even just blends that are as effective using different oils, so that people can 'trade off' occassionally - this would be a good thing.

    I've sent the book to Debi. I've sent some Benchmark Thyme to Debi. Now we wait for her to go into the lab and see what happens.

    Maggie Tisserand's book,  Aromatherapy vs MRSA, is available directly from Maggie at this link.  We contemplated bringing the book in but given the cost of shipping, the disastrous exchange rates, it will be just as effective for our clients and friends to order direct from the UK.

    Friday, November 4, 2011


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    Populus balsamifera  Organically distilled from the sticky springtime buds of the Balsam Poplar Tree, by a gifted Canadian Distiller.

    There is a story behind our acquiring this rare and precious oil.  We were attending a "preconference" workshop at the recent AIA conference.  Rhiannon Harris spent a day on clinical skincare - "Maintaining Skin Integrity"...this was not a "pretty" workshop, she was presenting important clinical work.   At one point she was discussing the thinning of the skin brought on by advanced age, or the over use of some Rx medications, and the skin tears and bruising that can result.  She discussed a list of better known oils frequently recommended for treating fragile,friable skin, and passed around a sample of something new to most of us in the room.  

    Before the vial even reached me, the clinicians in the room were asking en masse "Marge, do you have this?, Marge, can you get this?"  

    I had never HEARD of Poplar Balsam Essential Oil.  I knew that some rare herbalists produce an infused oil, that is hard to find and to be treasured. I had never experienced it.    The essential oil was stunning. Breathtaking.  Deeply balsamic, winey, sweetly resinous, with a deep sweetness at the heart - it stirs the soul.  It does not NEED to be healing, it just needs to be breathed.  

    At the first break I ran for my room and laptop, checked with the best Canadian Distiller I know, and found this treasurer. I went back to the workshop announcing that I had sourced it, and would be importing it.  I had *not* checked the price.
    It arrived this week. A small amount, rare and to be treasured.   Aromatically, it is breathtaking. It is is one of the rare oils that can speak to my soul.  To me it feels masculine in essence, I love it beside our sweeter Copaiba Balsam. The soft sweetness of the Copaiba enwraps and dances with the integrity of the Poplar. Amazing. 
    But it is FAR too rare and precious to be used for scent alone.  

    There is little published information about this rare oil. My old (in need of updating!) copy of the Aromatherapy Database ignores it.  "Aromadermatology" doesn't refer to it.  Burfield's Aromatics...nothing. Guenther...nothing.    So..what I have learned is anecdotal. There is far too little published about this glorious oil.

    As I said,  Rhiannon highly recommended it for skin healing and wound healing.  She also discussed its use as an anti-histamine and as an alternative to German Chamomile when preferred, since both are high in alpha bisabol.   She also recommends it for wound healing, as mentioned earlier for bruises and skin tears.  Blending with helichrysum and yarrow oils can give amazing results for healing scars. 
    It is both antispasmodic and analgesic, a recommended pain reliever for injuries, sore muscles, rheumatism and arthritis.  
    The buds themselves, infused in oil, have been used by North American healers for millennium to ease pain, and heal damaged skin. It is not always safe to assume the same uses for the distilled oil as for the infused herb, but the producer swears this oils is amazingly effective.  
    Dr. Joie Power recommends Balsam Poplar essential oil for bruises, sprains/strains, sore muscles and injuries to the skin. Balsam Poplar essential oil is also antispasmodic and has an analgesic effect,and reduces tension. One of Balsam Poplar essential oil's most noted effects is for reducing scaring and for wound healing. For use in treating injuries and for treating rheumatism and arthritis, blend Balsam Poplar essential oil with German Chamomile and Helichrysum essential oils. "

    Emotionally I would venture that the oil would be comforting and strengthening... a help in time of trouble.

    I've seen recommendations that it blends well with all of the 'blue' oils, with Helichrysum for healing purposes, of course.  I think it would give a lovely depth and structure to any floral. 
     Recommended shelf life of this base note oil is said to be up to 10 years with proper storage.  I suspect that, like Myrrh and some other balsamic oils, if left unsealed the volatiles will evaporate and leave you a bottle of rock hard resin.

    When I come up for air, it will be available both undiluted, in all three retail sizes, and in a 10% dilution in Fractionated coconut oil. I bought a small vial of the 10% dilution home to play with.  It is...exquisite.  Watch for our November Specials page. If I ever get it written, this lovely healing Balsam will be included.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Guest Post: Hospice and Stress

    One of the gifts of gatherings like the recent AIA conference is the opportunity not only to LEARN from all those who so generously share their work and their wisdom, but also the chance to finally put faces with the names we've dealt with for years. One such example is an old online friend, Lisa Browder.

    Lisa is one of several friends who has agreed to occasionally contribute to our blog. I always ask our guest bloggers to share information that will give us all something to 'take home'...ideas for using these oils in our own lives.  Her first article just arrived in my inbox:


    Although aromatherapy in hospice (which is where I work) is a specialized field, it doesn’t require a knowledge of medicine to be able to make a difference for those you love. A common denominator in virtually every disease process is stress. I have watched it exacerbate symptoms and even prevent powerful pharmaceuticals from working effectively. Stress is a term we’re all familiar with and it’s an easy one for you to address with your own friends and family (whether or not they’re suffering from a disease).

    Here’s what happens: When we’re stressed our “emergency system,” the sympathetic nervous system, responds by throwing the body into “fight or flight” mode. It accelerates the heart, constricts blood vessels, causes sweat and adrenal glands to secrete more abundantly, slows the processes of the salivary and digestive glands and causes the entire digestive tract to grow sluggish.

    Those are great responses to an emergency situation. However, if the stress persists and the parasympathetic nervous system is unable to bring the body back into a balanced state, the results can be devastating.

    Let’s look at how stress might affect something like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The patient experiences extreme stress over the difficulty he’s having breathing. Even though doctors are able to stabilize the breathing, he remains stressed because he’s afraid it will happen again. In response to that fear, the sympathetic nervous system remains in fight or flight mode and the parasympathetic nervous system is unable to restore balance. The body’s emergency measures start to become liabilities as they linger on and on.

    The accelerated heart rate and constricted blood vessels raise the risk of stroke; overactive sweat and adrenal glands keep him uncomfortable and awake at night, causing insomnia; slower salivary processes make him continually thirsty; and a sluggish digestive tract causes constipation and thus extreme discomfort – all of this on top of the diagnosed disease.

    It’s easy to see the enormous benefits of controlling disease-related stress. There are many beneficial essential oils for stress and in his book The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Salvatore Battaglia lists the following essential oils: Basil, Bergamot, Roman and German Chamomile, Virginian and Atlas Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine absolute, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Marjoram, May Chang, Neroli, Melissa, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain, Rose Otto and absolute, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang.
    In the hospice where I work, I use creams, inhalers and bedside nebulizers (depending on the patient’s level of consciousness and ability to participate) and often combine the creams with modalities like massage or reflexology to produce positive, relaxing results. One of my favorite blends is simple and affordable: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata). Marge has a great selection from which to choose and offers valuable (and often personal) information on each of the essential oils so be sure to browse her site.

    Lisa is a clinical aromatherapist in hospice. She is the Nevada Director for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and has been a speaker at conferences for the National Hospice & Palliative Care Association, California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control.  (She's shown here with Asher, but no Bio is available for him.)  I was thrilled when Lisa first started placing orders with Nature's Gift.  For personal reasons, hospices are a cause dear to my heart, and it gives me joy when we are able to participate in their mission.

    I thank Lisa for the kind words about our oils...and I'm going to send her a small bottle of our Cape Chamomile Oil. It's a new, and relatively unknown oil from South Africa, and for me, it is the ultimate stress reliever.  I can't wait until she has the chance to experience it.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Where's Judy???

    Around noon the office phone rings.  Caller ID shows "Out of Area".  Voice on the other end has a heavy accent, from a country that has received a LOT of outsourcing over the past few years.

    "Is Marge Clark there?"   "This is Marge, how may I help you?"  "I am Mr. Smith with the FBI, is this Marge Clark at Nature's Gift Incorporated?"   "Mr. Smith who did you say you were with?" "The Federal Bureau of Investigation."  "I don't think so, click."      

    To the best of my knowledge, the FBI hasn't started outsourcing.

    Ring again.  "Out of Area".   Different voice, name accent.  "Is Mr. Marg Clark There?"  "There's no Mr. Clark here." Click.

    Ring again.  Third voice, different accent. "This is Dr. Clayton from The New York City Hospital."   "Will you people PLEASE go away and stop harrassing me."  At which point he yelled at me, how DARE I doubt that he was who he said he was, and he needed to talk to Mr. Marg Clark about a very important matter.  Not only is there no "Mr. Marg Clark" here, but there's no "The New York City Hospital" there.  Click

    I kept waiting for one of them to say "This is Judy" re the wonderfully funny AND true to life credit card commercial.

    Outsourcing marketing calls is truly not a good idea.


    Monday, October 24, 2011

    "Floral Waters?"

    Once again, I am reminded that the term "Floral Water" can mean anything under the sun.  

    Just received a marketing email from an aromatherapy and fragrance supplier from whom we have occassionally bought packaging materials.

    HUGE attractive display ad raving about their "fresh floral waters."  I was intrigued.  Some hydrosols we had not encountered.  Most of you know I *do* love our hydrosols.

    Most of you also know that a Hydrosol/ Hydrolat is "the other distillate".... it comes from the still along with the precious essential oils we make available.  A true hydrosol contains all the water soluble plant chemicals released during the distillation process.  It will contain traces of the essential oil, and a different chemical balance than that found in the essential oil.

    This company offered a long list of floral waters.  I was excited.  Then I dug deeper and read further.

    "Our floral waters are a mixture of distilled water and fragrant essential oils and absolutes. A versatile addition to any beauty routine, each of these Floral Waters can be added to the manufacturing process in place of normal water, used as a deodorant, facial spritzer, for direct application to the skin, as a cooling agent, in saunas, in hair care applications, as a fragrance or for massage. As you can see, Floral Waters are incredibly versatile!...from the most trusted name in Aromatherapy"


    I got very curious.  Wanted to know how the essential oil is dispersed in the distilled water, since normally the eo will float on top of the water.  They give an MSDS and C of A.  I looked at the ingredients listed in the Certificate of Analysis:

    "Purified Water >30 – 100 %

    Vegetable Glycerin >1 - 3%
    PEG-40 Hydrogenated Caster Oil >1 - 3%

    (Steam) Essential Oil  >0.1 – 0.3%

    Potassium Sorbate  >0.1 – 0.3%

    Citric Acid  >0.1 – 0.3%

    Dimethicone Defoamer"

    ooooooooooooooooooooooooookay..  Dimethicone Defoamer?

    Folks, I absolutely guarantee that NONE of our hydrosols contain vegetable glycerine,  castor oil, potassium sorbate, citric acid, OR...  "Dimethicone"

    So much for natural products. 

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    PostPartum Depression

    The "takeaway" from last weekend's conference that leaps out at me was research presented by a friend and client, Pam Conrad RN, BSN, PGd, CCAP.    I am not going into the specific details of her study and of the statistical results that followed;  the basic bottom line was that Pam found that a very mild blend of Rose Oil and Lavender Oil had a significant effect on reducing serious cases of Postpartum Depression.

    The women in the control group had been wrestling with the depression for various lengths of time. All were involved in support groups and other forms of help, but still suffering.

    A simple blend of Rose and Lavender (because Rose is so overpowering, I would use perhaps three parts lavender to one part rose oil) added to an unscented lotion, or just sniffed from an inhaler made an amazing difference in the emotional wellbeing of almost all the participants.

    I remember when my second son was borne.  We were in Germany; an army officer's family.  There was a mail strike going on, so no letters, cards or packages from home, the boys' dad was gone much more than he was home. I remember thinking "I have this beautiful little boy and no one even cares."  I also remembering trying to find a way to pack up my two boys and escape to the States.   Sheer unalloyed misery.  Forty odd years ago we didn't know about postpartum depression, and I certainly knew nothing about the healing powers of these wonderful oils.  But today we know.  

    If I were to blend this for a friend I would use a weak dilution...not more than 2% at the very most. (A 2% dilution would be 12 drops of the blended essential oils to one fluid ounce of lotion or massage oil.)  Perhaps adding 48 drops (or two mls) of the blended oils to a four ounce bottle of our Silken Skin Lotion would work nicely.

    Postpartum depression is an insidious disease. So many of us feel guilt and shame - this should be one of the happiest times of our lives, what's wrong with us that we are miserable?  We have the power to bring an end to that misery...what a gift.  Thank you Pam for conceiving of the study and carrying out the work, and sharing your results so that other women may benefit!

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    AIA Conference

    For the last week, Christi, Jim and the rest have been very competently running the show without me.  I had the great gift of being able to attend the Alliance of International Aromatherapist's conference in Minnetonka.   I've been emailing various presenters asking for permission to share some of what they shared with us, but so far have not heard back.

    Most of you know that Christi recently completed the aromatherapy course offered by Laraine Kyle Pounds at the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy.  I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Laraine at the conference.  

    She is such a wealth of knowledge!

    I wish I hadn't left my camera in the room for most of the conference. My first night there I had dinner with Jane Buckle, and throughout the conference got to meet and spend time with so many of her instructors that we've worked with for years, but never had met face to face! Hugs and laughter and "we have to test that"... Debi Rodriguez was the genius behind our MERCY line of products. We sat and brainstormed other oils to try and other blends, to see if we can find milder, gentler dilutions that will be as effective. When the dust settles lots of samples will be headed her way for plating.

    During the  last session, Sara Holmes made an impassioned plea for support for the United Aromatherapy Effort.  We've supported the UAE for years, and some of you have, as well. One idea that came out of the AIA conference was that perhaps some state or regional leaders could step forward to help Sylla and Geraldine with their organizing and fund raising activities.  There are a lot of skills that could be used in furthering their efforts. Please contact the UAE through their website if you are willing to volunteer.  That's Sara, with outgoing president Lora Cantele in the background.
     Probably the best part of the conference, for me, was the chance to sit and socialize and talk shop with old and new friends.  No one here in Nashville does what we do, and I don't have the chance to talk about healing and the oils and all the passion we feel very often, so getting to share experiences...good and a gift.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were filled with laughter and hugs as old friends reconnected, and we finally were able to put faces to the names we've seen onscreen for years.   An after lunch grouping with Nancy and Dr. Raphael D'Angelo, Cynthia Loving (from North Carolina...a new friend and sister I'd not met yet), Sara again, and me. 

    As to why I'm not yet back in the office... on the way to Baggage Claim in Nashville's airport someone cut in front of me dragging a long train of luggage. I was looking up, not down. It's amazing how fragile toes can be, even when properly shod.  EXPERIENCE to share.   an ounce of our Arnica Infused oil, with about 1 to 1.5 mls Corsican Helichrysum added does wonders to ease the pain of a broken bone.  So far it has NOT done much for the bruising and swelling, unfortunately.  Yes, we had it Xrayed, yes it is broken.
    No I've not yet made an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor. I keep being told I should Meanwhile, the Arnica and Heli make it easy to cope with (unless I try to walk too much, then I remember it's broken.)

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    It's been 10 years.

    Last year on September 11th, I blogged about the events of that day in 2001, what was happening here, at Nature's Gift on that day, who gathered beneath my roof to pray and to cry. 

    Today I'm thinking about the after effects.  Because it is what we do, we were drawn to create a blend, to try to ease some of the grieving that we knew would follow. So our Solace synergy and anointing oil was created.  While we women worked on that, using all our skill, knowledge, intuition and love, Rick felt drawn to create a blend for Spiritual Courage... I found the initial attempt...labeled The Lion... with reference to The Wizard of Oz.   We tinkered a bit...and Valour was borne.

    Creating them wasn't enough.  We needed to get them into the hands of those who were most affected by the events of that terrible morning.

    This is the newsletter that I sent out later in September:

     Our hearts reach out to the families of those lost in the World Trade Center, and at the Pentagon. It's impossible for us to imagine what you must be going through. I know some of our readers had friends and loved ones among the victims, and among the lost heroes who tried to save them. We have spend a lot of time during the past two weeks praying that you be comforted, and that our children...all the children...of the world be kept safe.

    First, I'd like to share some blends. We had sent some Rosa Alba to one friend who I knew had family members lost, because years ago another friend wrote of taking some Rosa Alba to the funeral of a beloved teacher...   and said that "it comforted many hearts." So we sent what comfort we could.

    And I thought of blends, for comforting the grief that so many are experiencing. Anne went to the blending table, and came up with the following formula:


    10 drops Cypress  - for strength
    10 drops Frankincense Sacra - for the Spirit
    3 drops Rosa Alba - for Comfort
    1 drop Helichrysum - for healing scars and bruises
    1 drop Melissa - for the promise of Joy

    it's a beautiful blend. The rose will become stronger with time, as it is, it's balanced. woodsy, with the softness and strength of the White Rose.

    We are NOT offering this blend for least not right now. That feels like profiting from the disaster that struck so many. But we want to make it available to those whom it might help.

    The only way we can think to do that is to send a wee bottle, in a skin-safe 5% dilution, upon request, to any address in Southern New York State, Western Connecticut, Northern New Jersey, or Washington DC. We will send it upon request, while the pre-bottled supply lasts. (approximately 100 bottles.)

    Please send Email and use SOLACE as the subject matter. Just put the recipients name and address in the body of your message. We'll send it out.  If you feel it should go to an address not covered by the above, just write and explain to me. I hate to limit what we are sending...but for obvious reasons we have to...and I want it to go where it's needed.

    And it did. The requests came in. We sent to firefighters who had survived, but watched their friends fall. We sent to families of the fallen.  We heard from friends and families of those who had been on those illfated airplanes. 

    A year later, when Cancer claimed our Rick, with so little warning, we sent small bottles of his Valour anointing oil to those who remembered him.

    Why am I writing all this tonight?  Because this September it feels appropriate to make our Solace and Valour blends available again; but the time broadcasting them to any and all has passed.  We are going to offer them at our normal wholesale pricing on the September specials page when it is finally written and online, and I am concerned, once again, that people may think that we are trying to profit from that terrible memory.

    We are not...we want to make them available and this seems to be the best way.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Lessening Painful Periods via Aromatherapy: A blend for women

    By Christi R. Pugh for Nature’s Gift Link

    One of the most challenging & enjoyable requirements of my coursework for aromatherapy certification with The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy has been the casework/research studies which must be completed regularly. Over the course of a year some twenty must be submitted & I found it interesting to come up with blends for various issues, some emotional, others physical. One of the challenges later in the course was blending for multiple issues, seeking common oils to address up to three issues.

    A friend in her early 40s came to me complaining of very painful periods. She had been to see her gynecologist and had tests run which showed nothing out of the ordinary but she knew her periods were much heavier & more painful than usual & that it was ongoing over several months. She asked me to formulate a blend to help with the pain and the cramps, and I also wanted to address the regulation of menstrual flow.

    The blend I came up with is a 10% dilution of 1 oz using Evening Primrose as the carrier oil because it is so good for women’s issues including regulation of menstrual flow, & 60 total drops of essential oils:

    -Lavandin Grosso Essential Oil, 20 drops (spasm/cramps, pain relief, regulates flow, inflammation)

    -Steam Distilled German Chamomile, 20 drops (spasms/cramps, regulates flow, inflammation)

    -Organic Peppermint Essential Oil, 10 drops (spasms/cramps, pain relief-analgesic)

    -Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil, 10 drops (antispasmodic/cramps, regulates flow, slightly sedative)

    I need to mention my client cannot use any over the counter pain relievers like naproxen sodium or acetaminophen due to an unusual allergy, so she was desperate and dependent upon the blend to offer as much relief as possible. Also, she does not care for Clary Sage, Vitex or Rose Oils, so while they are often cited for women’s blends, I felt it best not to use them since she dislikes them so much. If cramps are a real issue & the client can tolerate Clary Sage, it is one of the best oils to use in conjunction with Sweet Marjoram for cramps that accompany menstruation.

    Application is skin-safe as a rub on the abdomen, belly, and/or lower back. It is stored in a Pet plastic cobalt bottle with disc lid for ease of use.

    I am happy to report the blend has helped lessen the pain & ease some of her symptoms, particularly on the first day of her period which is usually the worst day for her, and can even affect her ability to go to work. She is now using it regularly during her menstrual cycle & while she is still having harder periods than usual, she is seeing marked relief. Note that she is also addressing the issue via other holistic means. The blend is meant to be used at the time of menstruation while other modalities may be used every day to address the issue long-term.

    Monday, August 1, 2011


    I want to congratulate Christi!   For almost a year she has been studying with Laraine Kyle Pounds, of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy in Boulder.   The course has been very extensive and challenging. I've been impressed by its scope.  Her case studies were innovative and creative. (I was one of them, she came up with a marvelous blend of oils I'd not have thought of for my COPD.)

    Her research study, Intentional Aromatherapy: Reclaiming the Ancient Art of Anointing, is, I think, worth of publication.

    Just today she heard back about her exam...the final step, and she ACED it!!!


    (We are considering using one of her case study blends as a new product when we catch our breath.)

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Aromatherapy for Dogs....

    We subscribe to "The Whole Dog Journal" since upon occasion they have listed us as a source (and many of us are dog owners!) It is a wonderful reference for holistic care for your canine fur-kids.  The article below just hit my inbox, and since it shows a use for Lavender Essential Oil (and diffusers) that I had not thought of, thought it worth sharing.  

    How to Calm an Aggressive Dog

    There are a host of other things you can do to lower general stress in your dogs' environment.

    If you've ever had a massage, you know how calming touch can be. Dogs aren't that different from us; you can calm and soothe your dog with physical touch, both through canine massage and TTouch. Combine your calming touch sessions with aromatherapy, by using a therapeutic-quality lavender essential oil in an electric nebulizing diffuser in the room while you massage your dog. Then you can build your dog's "ahhh" association with the lavender scent to help him be calm in more stressful environments, by putting a few drops of essential oil on a bandana that you tie around his neck or on the bedding in his crate.

    For more details and advice on modifying dog aggression, purchase Whole Dog Journal's ebook, Approaches to Modifying Dog Aggression.

    Not mentioned in the may see a full range of different types of aromatherapy diffusers, both nebulizing and other types, on our accessories page.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Creating a Multi-Use Personal Shower Gel

    By Christi Pugh for Nature’s Gift

    I love finding new uses for our products! Recently, I made a germ killing hand soap for my bathroom using our Benchmark Thyme, Tea Tree, and Lavender Mailette. Marge suggested I try our unscented shower gel as a base rather than liquid castile this time to see how it would work as a hand soap. It lathers up much more than the castile soap and I’ve been happy with the results.

    Now don’t ask me why, but I reached over from the tub one day and used it for shaving my legs. It was a great spur of the moment decision because two days later my legs still felt soft and smooth. Who knew?

    If you were using it specifically for shaving, maybe some of the softening oils like one of the Chamomiles might be better suited. I was just using what I had made up. But I do like the idea of an antibacterial in it either way (like Tea Tree) in case of an accidental cut or something.

    All you need is 4 oz of unscented shower gel, a blue cobalt massage bottle with treatment pump, and essential oils of your choice. Shake it gently before using to distribute the oils evenly throughout. A 3-5% dilution should be skin safe.

    You could use any essential oils you like to make a scented shower gel from our unscented base. It is truly subjective.

    Oh, and Marge reminded me that a client uses our Rose Shower Gel in the tub, pouring a little under the faucet while she is filling it and raves about how wonderful it is!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Taking the sting out of Summer fun

    by Christi R. Pugh, for Nature's Gift

    Summer is here and so are the stinging and biting insects. I love the outdoors, especially taking walks by the lake with my two dogs, but wearing shorts or capris in the heat can be a nuisance when the bugs begin to bite.

    Up to this point, mosquitoes have been very light this year in Middle Tennessee, some speculate due to the thirteen year cicada brood that just finished its cycle here. However, they are now out in full force, and I was caught outside without applying my handy Skeeter Beater in advance, and got several bites on my legs and knees.

    Just a few weeks ago, I prepared an anti-sting/itch blend to keep in the refrigerator for summer use, after researching some of the best essential oil choices for this purpose mainly focusing on antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory oils. The blend I came up with is 1 oz total in St. John’s Wort infused oil for the carrier oil, a 10% dilution, using 60 total drops of these essential oils: Cajeput, Blue Cypress, Lavandin Grosso, and Lemongrass. I used the St. John’s Wort because it is a good pain reliever, but if you prefer, aloe vera gel would also be a good choice since it is so cooling in the summer heat. I evenly distributed the 60 drops at 15 apiece for each essential oil to make the blend which I keep in a cobalt pet plastic 1 oz bottle with disc lid.

    It came in handy last night because one of the bites was the itching and burning kind, right on my kneecap. Ouch! I applied the blend and felt relief within about 10 minutes. It is still a bit red this morning but no more itch or sting!

    You can also use this blend on wasp or what we in the South call “sweat bee” stings. Cajeput is known for being one of the best essential oils to help with fire ant bites. Both Blue Cypress and Cajeput can also be of assistance if you experience an allergic or histamine reaction to a bite or sting. The Lavandin and Lemongrass are effective pain killers and anti-inflammatories, as well. Definitely easy to blend and great to have nearby when summer pests attack!

    To read more about these and other essential oils visit

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    More Government interference

    Most of you know we make available several CO2 extracts. One of our most successful, in terms of making a difference, has been our organic Pomegranate CO2.  I am not providing a link to our online description of it nor am I going to talk about the successes that have been reported to us.  Why not?  Because I am a bit afraid to.

    Last week we emailed the producer a fairly large order for several products, including more Pomegranate.  He wrote back that they could ship the rest of our order, but at that time, could not ship the organic Pomegranate.  NOT because they were out of stock; they had plenty.  But because one of our government agencies was forbidding import of the product "due to medicinal claims on the product specification."  The producer stated what the product COULD do, and cited research to prove it.   And because his GERMAN website made statements about what this product can do, we are denied the right to import it.

    In the past this same government agency has forced us to remove or censor blog posts, and content on our website, including statements by happy clients, answers to client questions, and just sharing of experience.  Now they are also performing de facto censorship of company websites that are not even in this country.

    It becomes more and more difficult to share what we know is true about the products we seek out and make available.    It would appear that the mantra of this all powerful agency is "Nothing natural can possibly heal."  Repeat after me: NOTHING natural can possibly heal. Nothing NATURAL can possibly heal.  Nothing natural can POSSIBLY heal.  Nothing natural can possibly HEAL. 

    Has anyone here experienced recalls of essential oils and other extracts because of damage done to unwitting consumers?  No...that only applies to Rx drugs.  But nothing natural can possibly heal.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Jojoba Shortage

    For a few months now we've been reading about a world wide Jojoba shortage.  I regret that I rather acted like the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand. One authoritative source indicated that the shortage should be over by the first of the year, and I knew we had enough of our Organic Golden Jojoba to last past then, so I did not further stock up when it was available.

    The source indicating that the shortage would be over around the first of the year was not taking into consideration the hard frost that hit the Argentian crop last winter (Argentina's summer) and killed the new growth just as the buds were setting fruit.

    The Israeli crop has been devastated by a drought, as has the Sonoran Desert, source of the Mexican and US crop.

    The result of all these weather related disasters is that our producer of North American Organic Jojoba is sold out. Period.  We could have bought some organic Israeli product, but the cost would have been three times what we are used to paying, and I am not confident with the importer.  SO, for the time being we will be offering a certified non-sprayed Jojoba.   The land where it was grown is either in transition to organic status, but not there yet, or non-organic fertilizers may have been used there in the past two or three years.  It is produced by the producer we have dealt with for several years, and I am quite comfortable with the quality.

    However, for those of you who really really really want to buy only the organic product, we have a very few retail bottles left in stock. You may order them here.  The little bit not already poured into retail sizes is being saved for some of our products that have 100% organic ingredients.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Input regarding Kindle, please.

    I'm seeking some advice regarding the 2nd edition of my book, Essential Oils and Aromatics, from those of you who have read it, or those of you who use Kindle.

    The distributor is sold out, Amazon and the other major outlets are sold out, the distributor says they have backorders for the book. The publisher refuses to even discuss a second printing. (Since the publisher also refuses to discuss total books sold, royalties due me contractually, etc., I wouldn't trust him to print another run anyway.) 

    I am contemplating "self publishing" a second edition,  as well as putting the file together for Kindle.  I'm thinking that there might be some advantages to having it in an Ebook format, since it would be so easy to search for something.   (My Kindle is only a week old, so I am far from an expert on its use!)

    At any rate - I can put the documentation file that I used when writing it together for Kindle.   And that same file would be the basis of the second edition.  But I have some decisions to make, and would love input.

    If you have the first edition (and a lot of you do!) are there areas that you feel I should have covered that were omitted?  I know we have learned of a lot of new fixed oils and essential oils in the five years since it was originally written, so adding them is an obvious choice.  But are there areas that I skipped that should be included?

    Also...if you are a KINDLE reader.  What I have so far is a text file.  Because all I've read so far on my Kindle were books that I wanted and couldn't find locally, and it was faster to download than to order from Amazon.  All novels; straight text.  The question now is, with a Kindle book, should I include graphics? Photographs similar to those in the book.  (The publisher retained copyright to the graphics, but I think most came from IStockPhoto and this time *I* would get to choose them!)

    Two questions then:  What should be added to the book and whether a Kindle edition should be illustrated.

    thank you!