Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giving Back

Three seemingly unrelated stories...the apparent commonality is only the cast of characters...

My best and longest (as opposed to oldest) friend has an amazingly talented, beautiful daughter.  Jodie, as well as being beautiful is a gifted Poet.  She is an actress, has been taking part in local theater since she was in high school.  She takes part in poetry readings in Washington and Oregon. Her work is - amazing.  She is one of those rare people who has been able to take the struggles and pains of her life and transmit them into something marvelous.

Well over 20 years ago, when my now best and longest friend was a new acquaintance, my daughter achieved a special achievement, and was to be presented a small trophy, symbol of a major triumph.  When the time came for the award to be was not to be found. There were none. And from the back of the room, came my friend...who had received the same award a few months earlier.  And she gave hers to my daughter. 

(I told you these seem unrelated!)

In perhaps 1999 or 2000, I was asked to speak at the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild's second gathering, in Minnesota.  The topic was to be Essential Oil Safety.   I was honored and excited, and terrified.  See, "public speaking" was not something I did.  If I had to stand up and speak in front of half a dozen people, my knees shook, my voice quavered, I had a lump in my throat that could choke anyone, and I was close to tears.  There would be perhaps 200 people at the gathering.  I wanted to decline, but, I had to do it. Nature's Gift needed the publicity and the validation.

We make a blend called Reunité.  Soothing Neroli, grounding Vetiver, and several other oils. I designed it for myself, to deal with anxiety.  

At Nature's Gift we have always tried to offer aromatherapy jewelry.  Amphoras or miniature perfume bottles - wearable aromatherapy. At the turn of the century we offered the creations of a talented artist who has since stopped working with glass.   I had an amphora that she had created.  Malachite colored, like the stone pictured to the right, on a black linen cord.  I wish I had taken a picture of it.  I wore it to the conference, filled with Reunité.  During the presentation immediately prior to mine, I sat in the audience, holding the necklace, and inhaling the aromas of Neroli, Vetiver, and the other oils.  The other presentation finished; I was introduced.

And I went to the podium and spoke to that audience as though I had been addressing huge gatherings for years.  My passion for the oils, and for their appropriate and safe use took over.  There was no fear; no trembling, no quavering. Reunité worked its wonders, and I was able to do what I was there for.

Fast forward over a decade.

I recently found out that my dear Jodie suffers from paralyzing anxiety.  She said she's suffered from excruciating stage fright for years, and is performing less and less because of it.

I messaged her that I had something that could help, and planned to send her some Reunité Anointing oil.   And then I remembered my amphora, that hasn't been worn for a long long time.  And new what needed to go in the box.   The Malachite Amphora, some undiluted Reunité, a pipette to fill the amphora, and perhaps some Reunité Anoint for when she can't wear the Amphora.

And now, 20 years after my best friend gave my daughter a wonderful gift, I get to give a gift to her daughter.  Freedom from fear...freedom to do what she is here to do. 
I love the way these separate threads form such a lovely braid.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aromatherapy for Burnout?

Small research study using a blend of Peppermint, Sweet Basil and Helchrysum italicuum in an inhaler to combat burnout, mental fatigue and lack of focus. Not the oils I would have chosen, but I find it interesting. (Wish we could test our "BURNOUT" Blend.)

Re:  Aromatherapy with Peppermint, Basil, and Helichrysum Essential Oils for Mental Exhaustion and Burnout Relief
Varney E, Buckle J. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: A small pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;19(1):69-71.

Burnout is characterized by exhaustion related to chronic pressure at work or home. Aromatherapy may help alleviate symptoms of burnout. Lavender aromatherapy may reduce stress by inducing relaxation; however, this may not be optimal for burnout since it may exacerbate symptoms by increasing sedation and the inability to concentrate. Therefore, the authors decided to evaluate 2 stimulating essential oils to address the fatigue, and a balancing essential oil to address anxiety. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil has been shown to increase alertness and mental clarity. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) essential oil has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and has antidepressant properties. Helichrysum (curry plant; Helichrysum italicum) essential oil is known for its calming and soothing properties. Rose (Rosa spp.) water, as opposed to rose essential oil, was used as the control because it has a subtle aroma, and it is not known to have any therapeutic effects. 
The purpose of this randomized, double-blind, controlled pilot study was to assess the effect of inhalation of essential oils on the symptoms of mental exhaustion or burnout.

Adults (n = 14; aged 25-46 years) with self-assessed mental exhaustion or burnout participated in the study conducted at a private psychotherapy practice in Andover, Maine. The included subjects responded to an email sent to friends and colleagues. Subjects randomly received an aromatherapy mixture or placebo (rose water) in plastic personal inhalers. 

The aromatherapy mixture contained 4 drops of jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) oil, 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, 8 drops of basil essential oil, and 2 drops of helichrysum italicuum essential oil. The control inhalers contained 4 drops of jojoba oil and 20 drops of rose water. 

A 0-10 point assessment scale was used to rate mental fatigue or mild burnout, where 10 = no burnout, feeling alert, focused, hopeful, and optimistic and 0 = extreme burnout, lack of attention at work, negative feelings, lack of focus, and drowsiness. The subjects rated mental fatigue/burnout 3 times per day. During week 1, baseline measurements were taken (no aromatherapy). During week 2, subjects inhaled the aromatherapy once per hour during working hours (i.e., approximately 7 times per day). Week 3 was the washout period, and subjects recorded their feelings without the use of aromatherapy.

At baseline, both groups had mild "difficulty focusing, drifting attention, feeling neutral or, just going through the motions of the day" (a score of 4 out of 10). During week 2, the aromatherapy group had a 21.1% improvement and the placebo group had an 11.3% improvement. During week 3, some of the improvement persisted; compared with baseline, the aromatherapy group had an 8.7% improvement and the placebo group had a 7.1% improvement. No statistics were run, which is appropriate since the n was so small (n = 7 per group).

This study is limited by its small size and the fact that 99% of the subjects were women. Another limitation was that the subjects were self-diagnosed, and that burnout was mild. The study was well blinded in that subjects could not discern the odors. Compliance was not very good for all subjects (although the percentage of compliance was not reported). Some subjects reported that it was helpful to take a breathing break, which in itself could have provided some benefit. This aspect needs to be controlled for in future studies. Another subject reported concern with colleagues seeing her use an inhaler throughout the day. The findings from this pilot study will be helpful to guide future, better-designed studies. Inhaling a mixture of peppermint, basil, and helichrysum essential oils several times a day appears to reduce the symptoms of moderate mental exhaustion and/or burnout.

MERCY for UTI's???

Over the past few years several clients have emailed us with stories of success treating and preventing Urinary Tract Infections using our MERCY Body Wash. 

Brenda R. has been a client for years. She is caregiver to her elderly parents, and wrote earlier this week about the same issue. She graciously gave me permission to quote her:


Thanks for all of your help and information regarding your products. I have to tell you about our experience with your Mercy soap. My mother has a foley catheter and frequent  uti's because of this. She has been using the Mercy soap daily on the perineal area and on the beginning of the foley tube and it has dramatically reduced her uti's. She is so happy as that has dramatically reduced her antibiotic use. We will never be without it and today received our order of two more bottles!!

I am busy filling inhalers and getting a winter routine lined up for her and so enjoyed Christi's blog especially on "Giving the Gift of Health". I know how your products have positively influenced the health of my family. Thanks again.


Brenda R.
I've had other wheelchair bound clients write with the same results, as well as caregivers in nursing homes etc.  

I mentioned this result to the nurse who sparked the original MERCY products. Her reply? "It must be effective against E-coli!"  We are going to have to do some lab work on that when time allows.  However, for now, if you or a loved one is plagued by frequent UTI's, washing with our MERCY Body Wash shouldn't hurt, and might help!.