Friday, December 30, 2016


We're taking a break from Monday's With Marge during the Holiday season, but I've been browsing the November postings and finding some questions and answers worth saving.

Hi Marge! I would like to do a warm compress, but I have hesitated because I am not sure I understand the proper way to do one. Do you dilute the oils before adding them to the water to soak the towel? Could you please explain this for me? 
Cool Compress for a Headache

Nature's Gift Aromatherapy Jennifer, a warm compress is a traditional nursing method... and can be one of the most comforting methods for pain relief.

To use an essential oil compress.. from our website and my book... "Compress: Excellent for topical application to ease pain, from strained muscles, menstrual cramps, etc. Add 4 to 7 drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water. Swish the surface of the water with a cloth, wring out, apply to area, repeat when cloth cools. You may cover the warm cloth with a sheet of plastic and a towel to keep the warmth in longer. This is an excellent method for treating painful menstrual cramps."

For a baby or toddler with an earache or teething pain, use just one or two drops of essential oil or blend, cover your shoulder with plastic wrap, put the wrung out compress on your shoulder and snuggle the wee one against the warm compress. Your body heat will help keep it warm. I remember Kathy Duffy teaching this during our CCAP course when we were covering... I forget if it was Roman Chamomile or German Chamomile... one of the "baby safe" oils---A wonderful loving way to sooth a wee one in pain.

You can do the same thing with cold water, for a cold compress, when icing is appropriate. From last week's newsletter, when Haly's husband had a LOT of teeth pulled: "She applied compresses of Helichrysum oil in cold water to his face when he would allow it, as well as spraying cold heli hydrosol on his face, as well as in his mouth." Easy peas-y... you do NOT dilute in a carrier, you add the drops of EO directly to the warm water and 'swish." Now, obviously you are going to use gentle oils, relaxants, not the strong irritants. Make sense? Try a warm compress of Sweet Marjoram and Clary Sage for menstrual cramps... you'll wonder why you waited so long to try it.

"Thank you for the info. I was not sure if a compress was falling into the neat category and wanted to make sure how to do it correctly. Thank you so much."

Nature's Gift Aromatherapy Jennifer, compresses are wonderful. Now, for example, with my Lavender allergy, I would never use a compress with Lavender, any more than I would apply even diluted Lavender topically.. but with that caveat... avoid the irritants, the 'hot' oils.. it's not something you would use on a regular basis, but it is a WONDERFUL method when the circumstances are right.    Expand your aromatic horizons and try one next time there is pain to deal with.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Use?

Geno asked, "What is your opinion on daily use of eo's?"

Nature's Gift Aromatherapy "that depends."

There are too many questions in my mind for me to give an answer. What oils, and why? How used? At what dilution?

So.. since I can't address someone ELSE's "daily use" without knowing who/how/what/why, I'll describe how some of us at Nature's Gift tend to use the oils.

And the answer is, only when necessary.

We'll start with me. Because we are under an Air Quality alert because of the wildfires burning to our South East I have been using my Deep Breath inhaler two or three times a day since perhaps Friday.
(I am also using the prescribed COPD inhaler and using the (also prescribed) oxygen a few hours each day.) IF I wake up in the night and something hurts, I will rub on some That's Better. If bothered by insomnia I will probably put a few drops of something sedating in the Aroma Stone on my bed table.

If I feel like "I'm coming down with something" I'll either do a really INTENSIVE diffusion of some antivirals, a conifer, some Fragonia
™, perhaps.. whatever comes to mind. Again, only when needed. This is also a time that I might reach for some "aromatic medicine"... remedies taught in Mark Webb's course... dose specific for a specific goal.  (I'll also be loading up with Elderberry, Fire Cider and other natural remedies.)

I'm more apt to use an unscented base for skincare than using the oils ... unless there's some first aid necessary.. Heli for a bruise or burn, etc. Hydrosols for skincare and for emotional uses.

If the house smells like wet dog, or last night's dinner I might spray some Fresh Aire spray, or diffuse a tiny bit of Fresh Aire or a conifer... but if the weather allows I'd rather just open the windows.

Of course, I am totally immersed in airborne aromatic molecules at least five days a week. Because of that, I tend not to catch whatever is going around.

OH.. at about once a week or so.. there is rose oil in my bath... just for pleasure of it. And if we DO end up making some lip balms with cocoa and/or coffee and perhaps some Calendula for color and skin healing.. I might snag one of them. so that would be daily use... at an extremely low level.

I discussed this question with Christi. She doesn't diffuse at home because she has a bird. She'll occasionally use some Orange Oil to clean up grease. (me too!).. she will spot treat with skin care oils. I think overall she uses fewer oils than I do on a daily basis.. She normally wears a bit of our aged Sweet Patchouli on her wrists, for sheer pleasure. This week she has been wearing Vetiver and Rose, for sheer pleasure. She uses SkeeterBeater when working in the yard, and Blue Tansy for allergy flare ups.

Again, very conservative use.

I don't know of any professionals in the field who use the oils "just because."

Does this answer your question?
Geno: "Absolutely. Perfect. I was under the impression less was more, but wanted a professional confirmation. Thank you."

Nature's Gift Aromatherapy  Geno, YES. as a daily rule, less is more. There is a time and place for 'intensive use" but not routinely, as taught by some suppliers. sorry.. had to add that!
After thought. It just occurred to me that this question ties in with my safety mantra, "Anything powerful enough to heal is powerful enough to do harm."  So if the oils are, as I believe powerful healing substances,  it shows great disrespect for their powers to use them "just because." 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sister Act

Tis the Season.

A comment in an order placed last evening, "Treat with love :) Christmas present! Thank you!"

I wrote back, "We *always* treat them with love...  but the Roses get more love!"  (The order contained a diluted Rosa Alba CO2.)

And the client answered my flippant response, and I lost it.
"I know :) my sister has been wanting this for 10 years but couldn't justify herself spending the money on it. So I'm getting it for her! Thanks and happy holidays!!!!"
I went running downstairs to see if the order was still there.. We wanted to tuck in a small gift, because this sister's love just touched our hearts.  The mail had just left and it was too late.  But this sister's gift just touched all our hearts.   

Tis the season for sharing with love.  We are glad that we were able to take part in that gift of love.  You people out there just keep giving us more reasons to be grateful, never more than during this Holiday Season.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Cold Sores?

Just was asked this question again, so thought I need to put this Mondays with Marge discussion in a more permanent location.
"Hi Marge, my sister gets cold sores on her lips, she has a good one going right now, do you have a good oil recommendation?"

Nature's Gift Aromatherapy Several thoughts...

Jane Buckle always taught the same blend folks use for shingles for ANY sort of herpes outbreak... (and cold sores are herpes simplex) ie, a STRONG dilution of EITHER Ravensara aromatica OR Ravintsara in a base of Calophyllum ino
phyllum, the same blend we use for Shingles.

Our Christi SWEARS by our Melissa 10% dilution, and my youngest child, Jackson, stocks up on our Melissa Calendula Lip Balm. This always surprises me because years ago someone ( I forget who!)
taught me that the antiviral components in Melissa (aka Lemon Balm) are water soluble and come across in a tea or decoction, but not in the distilled oil. But quite obviously whoever taught me that never told our Melissa essential oil that it would be of no use.

Another thought, from Kathy Duffy, my CCAP instructor... in the module when we studied Tea Tree oil... as soon as you feel the tingle coming.. when you KNOW there's going to be a cold sore, but it's not even a bump yet, put NEAT Tea Tree oil on it... every 15 minutes or so. Use a Qtip to apply it. She says if you catch it in time, often it will go away with no further treatment. If you have not avoided it completely, though, once the "bump" starts to swell a bit, start diluting the tea tree oil down. I want to say she said to 50% or 25%... and keep applying. IF the sore does fully form and break open, then apply a much lower dilution to avoid the risk of sensitization.

so there are all sorts of "expert opinions" on this one.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Top Ten List

As the staff hurries to finish off the few remaining orders from Cyber Monday I thought you might like to see what your neighbors bought.  Drum Roll please..

The Nature's Gift Cyber Monday Top Ten Best Sellers:

10  a tie between Atlas Cedarwood and Bulgarian Lavender

9    Fragonia (tm)

8, 7, 6 and 5 an even tie between Haitian Vetiver, Sweet Orange, Siberian Fir and Balsam Fir

4 and 3   a tie between the Essential Oil Key (single) and Holiday Joy Synergy

2  Lemon Oil

1 (drum roll please...and THIS surprised me!)  BLACK SPRUCE!

The essential oils were all 15  ml sizes, Holiday Joy, of course, was 5 mls.

And looking at  those numbers made me wonder about the Year to Date Top Ten:

10  Lavender Mailette
9  Inhaler Blanks  single (There's a story there.)
8  Cedarwood, Atlas
7 Peppermint, Midwestern
6 Rosewood (Bois de Rose)
5 Peppermint, Organic, Hungarian
4  Orange, Sweet
3 Tea Tree
2 Lemon
1 Lavender, Bulgarian

(all of the above are 15 mls.)

 Best selling Synergy   SleepEase

Best Selling CO2  Frankincense

Best Selling "fixed oil"  Pomegranate CO2  Followed Closely by Fractionated Coconut Oil

Best selling Hydrosol:  Helichrysum (surprising since we were out of it for several weeks.)

And there you have it.  Are all of these in your collection?   



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lip Balm Flavors

I am going to assume that you have a 'basic' lip balm recipe that you like.

A basic one can be 30 grams of beeswax (I always use the beads, they don't need grating!) and 70 grams of your favorite fixed oils.  We really recommend using a blend of fixed oils since they will all bring different protective and/or nourishing benefits to your lips.  This recipe makes 100 grams or approximately 3.5 ounces (by weight, not volume!) Enough to fill 6 small lip balm pots or 12 "sticks"   (It occurs to me that you may have different sized pots, so be sure to have extras. Our wee lipbalm pots will need more than six, because they only hold 5 mls, one teaspoonful, or 1/6th of a fluid ounce, so a single batch would give you about 20 wee lip balm pots!)

Mark Webb teaches a blend of more than half Almond oil with Jojoba and Avocado. I like to use something with a longer shelf life than Almond oil. And why can't use some of the VERY exquisite CO2 extracted facial oils? Of course we can!  Why not a bit of Kiwi, or Pomegranate, or Rose Hip Seed or Sea Buckthorn Seed oils?  Why not indeed.

Or, even simpler, from an old newsletter perhaps 15 years ago,

Basic lip balm recipe: melt together one ounce (by weight, not volume) of beeswax preferably grated (it will melt faster), a “solid” fat. shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil, etc. and one ounce of a rich liquid oil (I like to use avocado oil or kukui nut oil for this). Note, that was before I knew about, or had access to, Beeswax Beads. NEVER again will I grate a chunk of Beeswax!

This makes a basic soothing balm or salve that can be divided into smaller portions and/or enriched in innumerable ways. Use herbal infused oils (infused chamomile or calendula) for skin soothing. Add the essential oils of your choice...a drop of peppermint or steam-distilled lime for lip balms. Lavender and German chamomile for healing baby’s diaper rash. Patchouli or frankincense for badly chapped hands. Less beeswax or more of the liquid oil makes a softer balm, more beeswax makes a firm “stick” that can be rubbed on. 

For either formula,  add the beeswax and your sturdiest fixed oils to a microwave safe container.  Microwave in short bursts, pausing in between because residual heat will continue to melt the beeswax and butters.  Discontinue heating as soon as all wax is melted. While the mixture cools, stir blend evenly, and, just before it starts to firm up, stir in your Essential Oils and/or CO2s.

And now comes the FUN part....flavoring/scenting your lip balm.

The original formula calls for eight drops of essential oils or CO2 extracts. 

You could make 2 or 3 drops Sea Buckthorn Berry Extract, or Rose Hip FRUIT extract, to add a reddish tone to your balm.    and then, for scent:  

(Some of us were playing, throwing out ideas.and they sounded much too yummy not to share.)

Sandy said that her son-in-law texted her, ""that coffee chapstick you made is flipping fantastic!" - I take it that's a good thing!   So for a man, who doesn't want sweet or girly. Coffee is a great choice.

As might be Chocolate (use our Cocoa CO2 and you could use Cocoa Butter CO2 for the solid fat in the second formula here.) 

Or Mocha..  Cocoa plus Coffee.

Or Vanilla CO2  with or without Cocoa and Coffee..

A single drop of rose, Otto or Absolute.  Rose is delicious.  With or without Vanilla.  Rose and Chocolate? that would be lovely.

A single drop of Lavender blended with our 10-fold Orange, or with organic Coldpressed Sweet Orange?  

Sweet Orange and Cocoa CO2?  

Vanilla with just a single drop of Clove or Cinnamon Leaf, or perhaps Ginger CO2 Select for a "root beer" flavor?

Spearmint or Peppermint, of course.  but Cocoa CO2 and Peppermint?

Notice how Cocoa CO2 seems to come up in a lot of these? I am a firm believe that "Chocolate fixes everything" and I just think a chocolate flavoured lip balm would be a delightful treat for any chocaholic.   And, earlier this week, on Facebook, Lisa posted this comment:

"Holy chocolate! I just made a blend, then immediately went to leave a review on your site, but noticed there was no review option, so I had to come here... To anyone reading: buy this cocoa extract from Nature's Gift. Right now!"        Now, could I have made that up? of course not!

Friday, October 28, 2016

One Woman's Nightmare

We received a message today.  the dialogue that followed is quoted below, with some additional comments from me.

 Hi, Marge!
My daughter is 31 weeks pregnant, did *not* get a flu shot or the pertussis shot (nor did I but hubby just got a flu shot), so I'd like to do whatever I can at home to keep the environment free of nasties and keep her (and us) protected.  I've used Germ Beater in the past but I have become extremely sensitive to clove and cinnamon oils (at least topically--have avoided aromatically just to be safe), and I also understand that these oils are contraindicated for use during pregnancy. Could you recommend a blend I could put together that might offer a similar surface/air protection but would be more mom/fetus friendly?
 Many thanks,  

my first reply:

She also needs to avoid the Lemon Myrtle that is in both of our Germ Beaters...
I am thinking that safer and milder antibacterials would be geranium,  palma rosa..   tea tree with rosalina...     they are not the heavy artillary that you see in the high citral oils and the spices, but they would be effective, and safe.
maybe also add some ravensara aromatica and/or ravintsara for the anti-viral effect?
Also... look at our FluFoil  ingredients... 

and I am applauding you.. so many just charge in without thinking!

- - - -

At 10:20 AM 10/28/2016, she wrote:

Thank you so much, Marge!!  My personal experience with EOs (ended up developing a very serious allergic reaction to many of them, particularly the spice ones, that landed me on a immunosuppressant to control my reactivity) has taught me to have greater respect for them and to use them with greater caution.  :)

My reply:

oh WOW...     I wish you would talk to Robert Tisserand... he does so much with safety and needs to hear the specifics of your situation.
I'm curious tho... were you using the spice oils topically?  We have always advised against that,  esp. cinnamon bark and cassia...    clove and cinnamon leaf as well, with some very specific exceptions....   What oils and blends did you use topically. (I am guessing Thieves or it's equivalent...which is irresponsibly recommended for topical use...  and should never be!)

- - - - -

At 12:48 PM 10/28/2016, she wrote:

Well, I'm a massage therapist and I was using the oils quite a bit in my practice, both diffused and mixed in massage lotion.  A lot of my folks seek pain relief/management so I was using blends with clove, cypress, balsams (YL Thieves, Panaway, AromaLife) as well as singles like lemongrass, balsam, pine. Plus I was using Thieves room spray, hand sanitizer, and cleaning solution at home.  And ImmunoPro and Inner Defense internally.  The rash and itching were so bad, but for the longest time no one could pinpoint what it was.  One of my practitioners even thought it was parasitic and had me on an intense clove supplement, which just sent me over the top.

I finally had patch testing done and it showed I was highly reactive to fragrance blends--particularly clove, cinnamon, balsam. Once I eliminated EOs, I started to improve. But I still kept having exacerbations because my system had been so beaten up and I guess the oils had gotten so deeply into my tissues that I needed to be put on an immunosuppressant (Xolair) to control/prevent the debilitating flareups as the stuff continued to be processed out of my body.

 So yes, very powerful substances our plant oils are...

- -  - - - -

(comment... I am appalled at the aromatic overload... at the gross misuse of oils that really should
never be used topically, in spite of what the MLMs advise.  Even a quick browsing of Tisserand's safety  manual, or any book that focuses on safe and appropriate use, or any supplier's website that emphasizes safety... would recommend against the topical use of Clove,  the components of Thieves, Panaway, etc.    And the regular internal use of these blends...rather than balancing a person's immune system they seem to overwhelm it.  )

My response:

  Reading this has me on the verge of tears...    the harm that was done you...     I have always been taught that massage therapists are at greater risk and need to exercise MORE care and caution because of the exposure...  and you were...  immersing yourself, internally and externally...    because you were taught to use the oils this way.

Did no one ever teach you that cinnamon and clove are KNOWN sensitizers and should not be used topically? (of course not... they would have sold less...  )

I'm sorry, .... sorry that this happened to you...   and that you are still suffering the consequences..  Reading and rereading your experience makes me want to cry, AND makes me angry enough to throw things...  And it was all preventable... just common sense safety precautions.

There's a REASON Nature's Gift bottles say 'always dilute" and "not for internal use".....  I sometimes will use a specific eo or blend internally, for a very brief period... for a specific ailment...  but I've been trained in aromatic medicine...  and never just routinely.

 I would love permission to share your story...   in a blog article and on Facebook..   not with your name...     but so, hopefully, at least someone can learn from your experience.

There are people collecting "adverse reaction' reports... your experience should be added.  Do I have permission to share...without using your name or anything that would identify you...    but using the product names that you used?

And she wrote back,  Marge, I really appreciate your compassion and sensitivity to my situation...but even though YL marketing tactics and claims provided me with sense of security in using their products, I have to accept some of the blame. I know that their products are concentrated and one drop is usually enough therapeutically but I would sometimes use 2 or 3 drops for a more aromatically pleasant experience with my clients. I should have been more conservative in my use.  As far as internal use, well, I always followed stated recommendations but that may have been the tipping point for hindsight, I would have skipped internal use completely.

That all being said, yes you have my permission to share this information with your readers. They need to know that there is indeed a downside to improper EO use.

And not sure if you'll be able to view these attachments, but I'm including a few pictures of what things looked like at their worst...wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy...

Oh My Goodness!   Now,  *I* get contact dermatitis from unwise neat use of lavender on broken skin....but it is normally confined... never to the extent of yours.    This is a horror story... yes.. we will blog it... and share it.     Thank you!

Thank you, Marge. The experience has been my private hell, and I never thought to put it out there. So I appreciate your being my conduit.  If others can benefit from this experience and lessons learned, then I am willing to share. Let me know if you need any further info or clarification for your post.

Warm blessings,


 One question.. the practitioner who diagnosed you with parasites and Rxd a clove supplement...  what sort of practitioner, what sort of licensing.. and does he/she offer essential oils from one or the other MLM's?  

We have seen practioners with no aromatherapy training Rxing the oils.. neat,  ingestion in water, etc.. known dangerous modalities.

my mantra.. "anything powerful enough to heal is also powerful enough to do terrible harm...    the power of the oils must be respected.  not feared, but respected..    "safe and appropriate use" ... for over 20 years I've preached/taught that...  and stories like yours just...   break my heart.  It is all so unnecessary...

And she answered...
The practitioner is a functional nutritionist and certified health coach, specializing in inflammatory disease and cancer.  She's a upper-tier distributor of YL oils/products and is a strong proponent of their complementary use or as an alternative to conventional allopathic treatments of certain conditions.  She's very knowledgeable, does extensive research, and always presents white papers and studies to support her recommendations for use of the products that she promotes.  She's has a great reputation so I trusted her advice and recommendations.  So not a fly-by-night, amateur practitioner.  However, she wasn't familiar with any of her clients having the kind of reaction that I had so the EOs weren't implicated as the cause...she looked at my symptoms as being parasitic or even possibly a mast cell reaction. After many erroneous  diagnoses by many different doctors, a University dermatologist finally asked the right questions and did the right testing to properly determine the trigger to be the EOs. 

why am I not surprised that the "practitioner" is a upper tier YL distributor?  "and she's a YL distributor... so has NO training in essential oil safety.  

Believe me...  any trained aromatherapist... knowing your occupation and seeing those horrible rashes would have FIRST asked about EO usage.

but YL training seems to deny that there is any risk...

*I* am a strong proponent of the oils as complements to allopathic meds... we support research projects to show their efficacy,  we work with hospital staffs, we supply clinical aromatherapy courses...   but we also stress SAFETY.    "safe and appropriate use"  because we respect their power.

Now... ingested clove might be an effective treatment for parasites... this is NOT my area of expertise...  but...   the FIRST thing she (or anyone else!) should have looked at was your overuse of the oils...

I'm sorry... but this is just... combining the tragedy!

- - - -

there doesn't seem to be anything else to add.  This woman has been put through HELL because of corporate greed and deliberate dysinformation.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

How does a GC work?

We all talk about GC/MS analysis. But few of us outside of the archane world of a chemist's lab truly know what they are.

Was looking for something else in my archives and came across this, from a chemist in Connecticut whose real name always remained a mystery.  He was an online friend who knew a LOT about Essential Oil chemistry, and delighted in teaching it.

The topic of the message was "pretty smelling mystery oil" so it would appear I had been talking about something that I couldn't identify...  and the subject of analysis came up.  this was his explanation of "how it works":

From: DrPriszm@aol.comDate: Sun, 13 Oct 1996 01:29:59 -0400
Well, not really, but you're close!  Get ready for the $1.39 course on gas
chromatography! (But only if you promise to attend my real class in person!)
A gas chromatograph is really like an oven.  Inside the oven is a hollow tube which is coiled round and round like a garden hose so it will fit in the oven, because it may be 25 meters long.  Inside the tube is something similar to sand, very fine sand. There is some type of gas always flowing through the tube, from one end to the other.  
On the front end of the tube, where the gas is coming from, is an injection port.  It is through this port that the sample is injected onto the column, or tube.  The flowing gas carries the sample through the column.  As the sample travels through the column, the
various components of the sample separate, and form bands in the column.
Picture a marching band shoulder to shoulder marching down a street, and then gradually they start separating until they are 10 feet apart of each other.  Now they're marching single file, but they're separated by that 10 feet?  O.K. so far?  Good. 
Now at the end of the column, there is a detector. There are many types of detectors, but it really doesn't matter.  As each component marches past the detector on its way out of the column, the detector produces an electrical signal.  If the component is present in a high concentration, the detector produces a big signal.  If the component is only present in a small concentration, the detector produces a small signal. 

The signal then goes to a strip chart recorder.  You know what that is? Picture the device that the old fashioned lie detectors used to use.  You know, the pen would move on the paper and produce a wiggly line?  Same thing. The strip chart recorder draws peaks when the detector "sees" a component. Big peak for high concentrations, small peaks for small concentrations. 
This is the printout of a very simple oil with one major component

Here comes the math, be brave.  Simultaneously when the detector sends its signal to the strip chart recorder, it sends an identical signal to a computer processor.  The computer automatically computes the area under the peak of each component, and compares it to the area of the peak of a standard.  Then, by a simple proportion, it calculates the concentration of the unknown peak to the concentration of a standard compound whose
concentration we do know.  
Let me give you an example.  I take a known amount, say one gram of eucalyptol, the major component of eucalyptus oil, and inject it into my G.C. (gas chromatograph).  I get a peak, and that peak is always the same height as long as I inject one gram of eucalyptol into the G.C.  If I inject 1/2 gram of eucalytol, I get a peak 1/2 the height, and so on.  So I tell the computer that when you see a peak that is exactly the same height as my one gram standard, report that one gram of eucalyptol is in my sample.  Now the peaks are not all on top of each other, because you couldn't tell them apart.  They are separated on the paper just as the components are separated on the column.  The first peak to appear corresponds to the first peak that comes through the column.  
Your chromatogram of essential oils may contain hundreds, or even thousands of peaks!  How then, do we identify which peaks correspond to which components?  Well, we have to inject hundreds or thousands of standards of known components into the G.C. We then note the time it takes, from injection, until the compound hits the detector in
We call this the elution time, or the time it takes for a compound to elute from the column.  Each compound has a unique elution time, and can be identified this way.  Now, let me tell you that it is WAY more complicated than that, and I could go into the various types of columns, injectors,detectors, gases, etc., but that is the gist of it.      
GC of one of the most complicated oils - Rose Otto. See the multitude of peaks?

I had one supplier who would send a gc upon request...  with the major peaks marked by hand.  Their equipment was not hooked up to a machine... he identified the peaks by hand.   Also, the detail (and accuracy) an analyst can give is determined to a great part by the depth/breadth of the "Library" of analyses they have access to.  

I'm hoping this description makes a little bit of sense!  (Yes, it's simplistic. There may be those who will scoff at the analogy of the marching band.  Feel free to scoff.)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

To fridge or not to fridge? That is the question.

I was asked twice this week about refrigeration of essential oils, specifically if there are any that should not be refrigerated.

My answer (compiled from different places that I responded:)
That depends on who you ask. Robert Tisserand suggests refrigerating all of them. We do not refrigerate the Roses because it causes them to crystalize. (ditto aniseed.) this can happen at cool room temperature, as well.  If it does, just sit the bottle in a cup of WARM water (think baby bath) for a few minutes to re-liquify. We don't like the idea of repeatedly heating an oil if we can avoid it, so we do not refrigerate those two. 

The "base note" oils, the long lasting woods, roots, and Patchouli all improve with age, so why would you want to prevent that? I would never refrigerate those. Again, cool room temperature and shielded from light and direct heat. 
A friend shared her EO storage refrigerator. Now, THIS is a serious user.  Most folks use an under counter/dorm sized box.

What SHOULD be refrigerated are the citrus rind oils, orange, mandarine, etc., and the conifers... the "needle oils"... pines, firs, spruces, etc. They are the two shortest lived categories so definitely benefit from refrigeration. As for all the oil in between... that is preference. If you are going to be using your oils within a reasonable time, then, you could refrigerate, but it's not necessary. If you know you have enough.. let's say Lavender, to last you for 10 years, yes, refrigerate it, and store it under nitrogen. But if you buy what you need and replace it with the next harvest, then it is truly personal choice. 

Something else, Lynette asked if any oils could be harmed by refrigeration. Thinking of how thick and "sticky" myrhh and vetiver can be... and if they were refrigerated...they would be.. think 'cold molasses." The shorter lived ones, and the Blue oils benefit by it though.  

OH.. another thought. the distiller of our beautiful Frankincense sacra suggested that I NOT refrigerate her. She says that WINTER for those trees is, perhaps 68 degrees Farenheit and the cold would shock the oil. the resins do not have a terribly long shelf life, so, again, perhaps best to buy what you will use in a year or two, and then repurchase. 

Regarding the Frankincense comment above.  Robert Tisserand was kind enough to join the discussion, and said that while Patchouli, for example, does  not need refrigeration, "I find the idea that Frankincense oil would be "shocked" by refrigeration a delightful one, but oils are not people. Any frankincense oil high in a-pinene or a-thujene needs cool temps to reduce oxidation."   (We are storing our bulk Sacra (and other Frankincense oils) under a layer of nitrogen to protect from oxidation.  You might want to consider both sides of this discussion in deciding how to store yours.)

Another thought. You can further protect the oils by NOT storing them in half full/half empty bottles. Decant those 15 ml bottles down to 5 or 2 mls as you use them up. that helps protect them against oxidation, which is their worst enemy. 

Another participant in the discussion reminded us to keep child safety in mind.  If you are storing your oils in your kitchen refrigerator, *please* store them in a locked safety box.  Children are used to food and beverages being in the refrigerator.   If you are able to get an under-counter or dorm sized fridge for your fragile oils, please consider padlocking it shut.  Your child or a visiting child's safety is worth the inconvenience.   

I love the questions we are asked!       

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top Ten List

After our Labor Day weekend sale we tracked our best selling products.  Some we expected, they are our standbys and always strong sellers. Others were surprises to us.  NICE surprises!

Thank you all for your support, and for loving our products!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Nasty nits in the hair?

We were asked, "Recommendations for oils that might be helpful in the battle against lice on a child's head?"

 Our immediate answer? "NEROLINA,  Melaleuca quinquenervia CT nerolidol... go read our product description. There is anecdotal evidence that it is a miticide, and it might be useful in a blend to combat head lice. Many Australian sources recommend adding it to a shampoo for “children’s hair problems.”

Since I gave that quick answer, Christi found the research that validates my comment, AND the use of Nerolina in products for "Children's Hair Problems."

Now, after reading that, I started looking at the math.  Because the study did not use Nerolina essential oil, it used nerolidol, the major component in Nerolina Essential Oil.  Our Nerolina has 47.5 nerolidol.  (See the GC of our current batch here.)

Quoting from the research citation above, "Tea tree oil was more effective than nerolidol against head lice with 100 % mortality at 30 min and 1 % concentration. On the contrary, nerolidol expressed a more pronounced ovicidal activity inducing the failure of 50 % of the eggs to hatch at 1 % concentration after 4 days; the same effect was achieved by using a twice concentration of tea tree oil. The association of the two substances both in ratios 1:1 and 1:2 combined efficaciously their insecticidal and ovicidal effect; in particular, the ratio 1:2 (tea tree oil 0.5 % plus nerolidol 1 %) acted producing both the death of all head lice at 30 min and the abortive effect of louse eggs after 5 days. These results offer new potential application of natural compounds and display a promising scenario in the treatment of pediculosis resistant cases. The development of novel pediculicides containing essential oils could be, in fact, an important tool to control the parasitic infestation."

What does this translate to for us, for our children and grandchildren?  It would appear that using twice the amount of Nerolina essential oil as the researchers used of Nerolidol should give the same amounts.    In other words,  the most effective blend in the research for both live head lice and eggs was a blend of 0.5% tea tree and 1% Nerolidol was the most effective.   And our Nerolina oil is almost 50% Nerolina.

What I would contemplate doing, if I were to try to protect one of  my grandchildren against headlice, or use a gentle treatment if they are present, is making a blend of  0.5% Tea Tree Essential Oil and  2% Nerolina Essentail Oil.    One half ml Tea Tree plus two mls Nerolina,  two and 1/2 mls total, blended into 97.5 mls unscented shampoo.

I would work the shampoo into dry hair, and if at all possible, let it stand for 20 minutes. Then I would rinse well.  (The reason for applying to dry hair?  Water will further dilute the mixture to an unknown level. I don't want to start out with an overly strong blend, so we will apply to dry hair and let stand.)

If the child's hair does well with a conditioner, I might add Nerolina at 2% to either a leave in or wash out conditioner.   It also might be an option to use either high proof ethanol or Solubol as a diluent, and add distilled water, and spray the hair daily between shampoos.

I hope you find this information useful.

A reminder, from our website, "Nature’s Gift Disclaimer: The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Our products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or health care provider. The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a health care provider, and should not be construed as individual medical advice."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

How we evaluate Essential Oils.

Recently on a Mondays with Marge, Karen asked, “Hi Marge, Today in a post someone mentioned the word "ORGANOLEPTIC" I found it quite possibly interesting but don't know much about it. How important is it? Just a general explanation? Thank you in advance, I am truly trying to understand a few things."

Our answer, “Karen, I am sure glad that you posted this 24 hours in advance. Gave us time to give a lot of thought to the answer (which will be coming soon to a blog post near you!) Of course, I can only speak for us. Others may disagree.

First of all... definition, from

Definition of "Organoleptic"

1 : being, affecting, or relating to qualities (as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (as a food or drug) that stimulate the sense organs

2 : involving use of the sense organs

In our experience and our procedures, organoleptic testing is the FIRST test, the first hurdle, a new oil must pass.

We look at color. Is it what it should be? Is a "blue" oil a deep indigo.. or is it sort of greenish. A greenish tint MAY mean that it's old and oxidized.

The texture? If it is a vetiver, is it very thick, and sticky? On the other hand, if it's, let's say a Eucalyptus species... if that is thick, then there is something definitely wrong. It is probably old and oxidized.

Some people include taste. I don't. Personal preference. We should. I choose not to.

Most important of all is the aroma. Those who have sat in class or at conferences with me know I NEVER sniff an oil from the bottle; I believe you do not get the full aroma through an orifice reducer. (Please note, there are those who don't agree with me, that's okay, your mileage may vary.) So, first, I sniff the bottle cap... and that gets either an mmmmmmmmmmm, or a "what?????????" but that truly isn't a major part of the decision.

How we decide... we use scent strips. and dip the strip into the sample, and into the oil of the same species that we are currently offering, if at all possible. (sometimes Jim has to truly scrape the bottom of an empty pour bottle to get a comparison.) and then, we smell the scent strips. Three of us, Jim, Christi, and me. And sometimes Michelle because I love her descriptions.
Scent Strips of new Rose samples.
And that is where the fun begins. Because, when we smell those strips... there is a range of reactions. What we HOPE for. "OH, WONDERFUL"... an oil that is vibrant... that sparkles... that is EXACTLY what we want that oil to smell like.

And then there's the majority. "That's nice. it's what it should be. it's definitely (fill in the name of the oil.) And there's, "oh. what's WRONG with that?... it's too... too something. perhaps too sweet, or there's a bitter note that we weren't expecting, or... something jarring.

So, the FIRST hurdle a new specimen must pass is the organoleptic testing. Because if they fall into the third category, they don't belong here. I do NOT care what the gc/ms says, there is something off and I don't want to offer them.

and of course there are ranges, grades in between. Think of it as a spectrum... from one extreme to the other.

Now, our GOAL, and I think the goal of most of the suppliers I respect, is to have as many of those sparkling stars in their repertoire as possible. I would love to tell you that "all" the oils we offer are stars. That's the goal. But, in truth... NO single supplier offers the best of every oil. We try. A lot of us try. It's hard work and takes years of sourcing. The alternative is just picking a supplier or two and ordering all your oils from them. Some companies do that. I never saw the point. That takes the fun away. The joy of discovering.

I hope you see, now, the importance of "organoleptic testing" it isn't the be all and end all, but it's essential. ( pun intended!)

The situation gets complicated though. Because an oil can pass gc/ms analysis and still not be what we want. The organoleptic reaction is subjective. It helps if you love the oil, or the type of oil it is. It's hard to objectively evaluate an oil that you don't care for. (In years past I ordered the "least objectionable" Rosemary, because I truly disliked Rosemary. Others told me ours was stellar. I thanked them. It was "the least objectionable" which was the best I personally could do.)

Sometimes an oil is 'too good to be true." We have experienced that twice, The first time close to two decades ago, the second well over 10 years ago. In both cases my "too good to be true" alarm went off, and, after consulting with independent chemists, my suspicions were justified. The first was a "Rose Geranium"... that was a bit too floral. Come to find out it contained Phenylethelalcohol, which occurs in traces in Rose Otto, in high percentages in Rose Absolute, and not at ALL in Pelargonum species. Someone "boosted" the geranium to make it smell more "rosy"... and the scent balance was off. The next time was a so-called "Italian Neroli" which was sold as a distilled oil. Again, there was something... too good to be true about it. Come to find out it had some Orange Blossom Absolute added, to enrich the aroma. (This was a decade before suppliers normally had the oils we brought tested. We tested when we suspected a problem. And when I suspected a problem, I was correct.)

We have all three of us evaluate new oils and/or new samples, because we have, between us, 45 years of experience evaluating new oils. And we tend to agree. If I am not sure, I'll look to Christi or Jim to either confirm, or contradict me. We love different types of oils, so Christi is a better judge of the more medicinal oils, and she's not a good judge of the florals, for example. Jim will decant a sample or a new arrival downstairs, dip a scent strip and bring it up to us. And I KNOW, when Jim walks into the office with a big smile on his face, we have a winner.

There are times that we have made mistakes. Sometimes because we restocked without a sample. Sometimes because it was only after an oil had been in house for awhile that we realized it was not a good choice. Sometimes we return them. Some times we put them online with a comment that they are not the quality we like to offer, but the price is a bargain, and the analysis shows they are within spec. (I've been known to use the phrase "lacks the sparkle") Sometimes we find a soapmaker will be delighted to have them at a bargain price. And sometimes they go to Hazmat waste. It all depends on the specific oil, the specific situation.

Sometimes we come across a specimen that we absolutely love. That is the perfect example of what that product should be. And we can't offer it because people will not pay what it will cost us. We have a STUNNING sample of a Myrrh Hydrosol that will cost ten times the per ounce cost of any of the other hydrosols we bring in. We love it. We can't buy it for resale. We have had to decline some exotic roses that I loved. And we have declined every specimen of another rose that I would love to offer because every sample so far tests as adulterated. Even the ones that I thought smelled marvelous and passed all the organoleptic tests.

Now, sometimes a distiller whose selection normally "sparkles" will have a year that his crop is adequate, but only adequate. Bad weather does that. We do not abandon a trusted supplier. but some years the crops are better than others. We are DELIGHTED that we overstocked the 2014 rose otto... The 2015 rose harvest was a disaster, small yield and lackluster oil. We were able to pass. The producer congratulated me on stocking up the year before. But even an "adequate" oil is going to pass our organoleptic tests, and analytical testing as well. It just won't be the delight that we hoped it would be.

Sometimes we get several samples of the "same"oil and none of them are what we really want. Natural products are like that. We select the best out of the available options, and hope for better next year. Or, if none are "acceptable" we wait for better.

Then there's the times that we have offered an oil for a few years, and it's in our "okay" category. Solid but not exciting. And then we get a sample from a different producer. OH! You mean it can smell like THIS? And we fall in love! Those are the times that we are apt to overbuy because we fell in love. Thinking of Ironbark Eucalyptus... I had had samples from South America. Dull, flat, boring. No, we don't need to offer that. Then an Australian supplier sent me a sample. OH? It is supposed to be like THIS? Oh yes! And we've stocked it ever since. It's a star!

And then there's the recent sample of a rare and hard to find oil. the color was right. The first "sniff" smelled right, it had the sweetness we expected. Then we waited for the dry down. And, 10 minutes later, we were all looking at each other in puzzlement. What IS this? There was, to our noses, something "off," something “different” with that specimen, a bitterness, or astringency, on drydown. It reminded all three of us of a different oil, not what we were hoping for.

We chose not to order it. We see a lot of suppliers offering it. but we'd rather not. I have a sample coming in a few weeks from a source that I have purchased this oil from in the past. We'll wait. In the past, it was beautiful We hope this year’s will be, as well. Now, this oil came with proper 'documenation," a gc/ms that seems to be with scope. (This oil has a HUGE variation in accepted parameters.) But it failed "Organoleptic evaluation" ie, something didn't smell quite right to all three of us.

Given my druthers, when I am given a choice between a drop dead beautiful oil, and an 'acceptable' oil, I will buy the drop dead gorgeous oil every time. But there are some oils that...well, we have never experienced a "drop dead gorgeous" oil of...fill in the blank. We don't know if it exists. But the search goes on. We keep getting samples. And when we find it...we'll tell you, our Facebook friends, first! In the meantime, we will offer the "adequate" oil, within specs and not "wrong"...just not a star.

We had a French Petitgrain three or four years ago. IT was drop dead gorgeous. I had never experienced the like. We loved it. We only bought one kilo, because it was our first time. It was never produced again. So, the search goes on. Perhaps more from this producer will be available. Another example is Patchouli. Christi reminds me that our Sweet Patchouli from India, several years ago, was the best Patchouli ever. She's experienced probably more than 50 Patchouli's in her lifetime and we've never found one any better. But she loves all good Patchouli and she has approved all that we have ever offered. Does she like some better than others? Of course! :) And we reject a LOT of samples because Christi says "I don't think so."

Something else Christi reminded me... a quote from Depak Chopra:

"Finally, smell can have potent effect on our mind/body system. An aroma can trigger deep-seated memories in vivid ways that often surprise us. The olfactory nerve carries its information to the limbic part of the brain, which regulates behavior and emotions. Smell in the form of aromatherapy can be used to treat insomnia, depression and certain kinds of imbalances.

By treating the senses as the gateway to our own inner pharmacy, we tap into the most profound source of healing imaginable ­ our own consciousness. Think of the senses as portals through which we ingest the raw materials of our world and create our picture of reality. Our health depends on the positive input of our five senses as much as it does on nurturing food. What nourishes your soul nourishes your body. Take care to seek out moments of joy and beauty, which are the gifts that our senses continually provide."

And our goal is to select select essential oils that will give you “moments of joy and beauty.”