Monday, September 30, 2013

What DO you call it?

We get wonderful emails.  And the rule is when I get the same question three times close together, I write a blog article to address it.

This week a client who prefers to be anonymous wrote the answer for me (and made me laugh!)  Thank you for sharing Ms Anonymous!!!

What do you call it when you are a woman?  It scarcely seems fair.  A man can have 'jock strap itch"...   do we have "brassiere itch"???

I am not slim and sylphlike.   I am "curvacious."  That's a wonderful word, isn't it?  And my bosom is bountiful.

This summer I developed what I thought was a heat rash under the girls. I used baby powder. I used corn starch.  It got worse.

All of my bras are synthetic materials. (It is hard to find cotton bras in the higher letter sizes.)  When I go braless they have to deal with skin against skin. When I wear a bra, they deal with polyester or vinyl or other non-absorbent fabrics.  More powder, more corn starch. 

And the rash got worse.

I remembered reading somewhere that Corn Starch feeds fungi, and not to use it. Back to commercial Baby Powder. (You know, that brand that smells like fresh clean baby?)  It didn't get worse, but it didn't get better and it ITCHED. This holding pattern was not acceptable.

Fungi!  What is anti-fungal?

Search engine on your website brought up a lot of essential oils that I didn't want to use

on (or under) the girls.  (Not when I had already irritated the rash by scratching it.) Search some more:   Hydrosols:  Your website says: Melissa. (I didn't have any and it would sting. At least I think it would.)  Monarda (you were out of stock.)  Pinon Pine Hydrosol.

BINGO!!! I had that in the house!

Let's try a spritz and see what happens.  Doesn't sting.  Soothes.  We'll concentrate on this for awhile.

Change and wash my bra every day, whether it needs it or not.  Spritz the underpart of the bra with the Pinon Pine Hydrosol while it is drying. (I couldn't bleach them and wanted to make sure they were not carrying the fungus.)  Spritz the hydrosol whenever I can.  Three or four times a day?

Whatever the rash was, within about two days it stopped itching, and was gone without a trace in a week.

Bra-strap itch???  Is that what we call it?

Thank you for the full descriptions of your products. Otherwise I would not have known what to try!"

And thank you for sharing!  When it's not a heat rash... this is something easy and effective to try!   "Bra strap itch" indeed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SAFETY - Drug Interactions

All the information in this article came from Robert Tisserand's Clinical Safety in Aromatherapy workshop at the AIA International conference Sept 19, 2013.

 We tend to separate our natural remedies from over the counter and prescription drugs.  I had always known that Wintergreen essential oil can interact with blood thinning drugs but had no idea that other essential oils could interfere with other prescription medications.    As time allows, I will be posting this information with each of the applicable essential oils on our website, but for now I want it available for any one who needs it.

There are three significant risks if essential oils are misused or used inappropriately.  They are

  •  Allergic Reactions - which can usually be prevented by wise and appropriate use of appropriate dilutions, etc.           
  •  Phototoxicity - which can be avoided by awareness of which oils are photosensitizers and avoiding topical use followed by exposure to ultraviolet light, and              
  • Drug interactions - as the populations use of Rx drugs increases, and, at the same time, use of essential oils increases, there are going to be cases of EO/drug interactions.  There is little published information about these interactions.
Various essential oil components can affect the rate that prescription drugs are metabolized.  When the normal/expected metabolism rate is changed, then the effective amount of the medication in the bloodstream will be changed.

The four most likely phytochemicals to interfere with medications are Citral, Methyl salicilate, and alpha-Bisabol/Chamazulene.     

Citral:    Oils high in citral include (but are not limited to) Lemongrass, May Chang (Litsea cubeba), Honey Myrtle, Lemon Myrtle, and Lemonscented Tea Tree.  (Other oils also contain citral, but these oils are well over 50% Citral.)   They may interfere with metabolism of Methadone (used in aiding in  treatment for drug addiction), Propofol (used to induce general anesthesia) and Tamixofen (an estrogen blocker, used to treat breast cancer.)

Methyl Salicilate:  The only oils high in Methyl Salicilate are Wintergreen and Sweet Birch.  Methyl salicilate is a blood thinner and should never be used if the individual is taking Warfarin or other blood thinners.

Chamazulene and a-bisabolol: These soothing anti-inflammatory agents are found primarily in the"blue" oils...German Chamomile, Yarrow, Blue Tansy, and some of the artemesias.  They can affect the metabolism of Codeine, Lidocaine, Amitriptiline (Elavil, an anti-depressant) Imipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant), Tamoxifen (an estrogen blocker, used to treat breast cancer), Fluoxetine (Prozac, an SSRI antidepressant), Fluvoxamine (another SSRI), and Paroxetine (Paxil, another SSRI.)

Gentle, soothing German Chamomile...who knew?  Not me, that's for sure!

Now, what amount of these essential oils would "enough" to interfere with the associated medications?  I don't know.    But until more information is known it seems to me avoiding the combinations would be wise.

Yet another reason for anyone using essential oils whether professionally on clients/patients, or just on a friend or family member needs to have a full medical history.

"Anything powerful enough to heal is also powerful enough to do damage."

For the most complete and up to date information on the safe and appropriate use of these powerful healing oils, please see Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition, by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. 

Shameless Selfpromotion

Most of you know I spent the last few days in St. Petersburg, at the Alliance of International Aromatherapists conference.

This is my third conference, and I think I enjoy each one more than its predecessor. The chance to catch up with friends I only get to see once every two years, and sometimes spend time with online friends that I've known for almost two decades, but never MET before is just sheer joy.

But this year two very special, very validating events happened and I want to share them.

Rhiannon Harris was the keynote speaker Friday morning  Her speech was titled "Working at the Coal Face" and she managed to tie together her family's history in the Welsh coalmines to the progress and advances we are making in Aromatherapy. She talked of the tools that the miners relied on and the tools we, as aromatherapy practioners rely on.  She talked of the invention of the Miner's Lamp, and our need for the light of education.  Of how one small error, one brief lack of focus, can have enormous consequences not only for the team, but for the larger community.

She talked of the different ways to mine coal...and of the different ways and styles of aromatherapy.   She spoke of the need for apprenticeship/mentoring in Aromatherapy, as well as Clinical training. (And I am so grateful to those who have mentored me over the years!)

As you advance into the coal seam you need to support the roof.  The further you advance in the mine, the greater the need for strong support pillars.  In light of the advances in aromatherapy it is essential that progress be supported by solid and appropriate safety measures.  Who should set the safety measures? The pillars of the global aromatherapy community, in the US we have:

Sylla Sheppard-Hanger
Laraine Kyle Pounds
Valerie Cooksley
Robert Tisserand
Marge Clark
Mindy Green
Andrea Butje
Jeanne Rose

That list of names showed on the screen...and I could not believe I was being named in that company.

Later that day, during Lunch, Sylla Sheppard-Hanger did a presentation on the Confessions of a Vintage Aromatherapist. She talked of some of the experiences we had shared, of the work of the UAE.  And she honored some of our Seniors (those who had been involved with aromatherapy during the 70's) with Pioneers of Aromatherapy medallions, and some of us (the 80's Ladies) with Vintage Aromatherapist awards.   

Sylla getting ready to present them.

My friend and mentor Kathy Duffy receiving HER vintage award.
*my* Vintage medallion

All of us who received one of the Pioneer or Vintage rewards were just delighted, and wore them with pride all weekend.   Between being a "Vintage Aromatherapist" and 'being a pillar"... AND the way people loved the gifts Nature's Gift gave everyone,  it was a wonderfully validating weekend!

When Robert Tisserand was autographing my copy of his new Safety book, I secretly hoped he would inscribe it "To one Pillar from another"... but it didn't happen that way.

I will be posting some of the most urgent "takeaways" from Robert's preconference workshop within the next few days,  and updating the safety information on our website as I make my way through his book. But I wanted to brag a bit, first.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Can We Do?

If you are as concerned about the government agency's unfair, unjust and unlawful seizure of a shipment of perfectly legal GRAS essential oils you might want to speak out.

The one force that government agencies may listen to is Congress.   This link will allow you to look up your elected Senators and Representatives, based only on your zip code.

This is a rough draft of a proposed letter. PLEASE put it in your own words.  If you are members of any professional groups that ever use essential oils - natural products associations, soap or toiletries makers, natural health organizations, please discuss both the earlier blog article about the seizing and this letter with them.  One or two letters can be dismissed. If we can bombard them, perhaps they will respond.

TO: congressman   so and so or

I am writing you today to request your help and intercession with  the Food and Drug  Administration pertaining to  unwarranted seizure of Pelargonium graveolens essential oil (Rose Geranium) and the reclassification of this oil as a new drug.  (see Notice of FDA action/ Entry number 399-0344329-7 attached)   

 Pelargonium graveolens is on the GRAS list (generally regarded as safe) and has been safely used for decades. 

The FDA has seized a shipment of this essential oil and charged unsupported health claims have been made. This is not true. The importer, Duerst Lahti Global, LLC,  never has made any  health claim.  When asked to  produce any evidence of the allegations, the FDA’s  Compliance Officer,  Sherea Dillon, ignored the request and refused to identify the source of the claim.

The FDA has further overreached  their authority   by ordering the manufacturer to return the shipment from whence it came  or destroy it. This is outrageous and uncalled for. The manufacturer cannot be held responsible for something someone, somewhere said about a natural product. The  FDA has failed to show just cause or any  evidence supporting these ridiculous allegations. The actions of the FDA appear to be capricious at best and in obvious violation of DSHEA 1994, and a complete misinterpretation  of FDA/FTC regulations.

I respectfully request you  use your influence to call a halt to this blatant misuse of the FDA’s authority. I look forward to your response.

* This just an example of the type of letter that can be used to contact everyone's Congressman or Senator.

*A copy of the FDA notice and Lahti’s response must be  attached when sending letter or email. (See earlier blog article,

The main point should be made that the product is safe, approved and no claims have been made by the responsible parties.  To further try to comply with FDA requests ignores the fact they have not shown any evidence of wrongdoing, and in this case, being guilty until proven innocent.

Letters and emails should be sent and phone calls made from any person who uses, makes or even LIKES essential oils and  other natural products.

This advice comes from a friend who has had years of experience dealing with government regulation of natural products.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  Together we can make a difference.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rose Geranium - A New Drug???

The above titled blog post has been deleted because an individual has chosen to use it to further her own political agenda, without asking my permission or agreement.

The situation that she sees as a reason to make what we do even more difficult was resolved. 

She did NOT have my permission to use this as the basis for her campaign.

Sorry folks, it's a non-issue and ancient history.