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.)