Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Aromatic Medicine Part 2

Mark, teaching about Thyme chemotypes. Sandy (our scribe) in the front row against the window.
The weekend from  March 17th through March 20th we spent at the second half of Mark Webb's Aromatic Medicine course, I believe the most cutting edge aromatherapy course being taught in the US today.  Sandy had some time to do some writing in the evening, I was too busy trying to keep on top of the hundreds of emails that had arrived while we were in class.

Day One 1 - the Aromatic Toolkit  The oils, the functional groups they fit into, and their uses.
Beginning Day #2- Mark ran us through our paces yesterday over the aromatic tool kit. Though it sounds overwhelming, most will find that they do have these essentials in their own collection, and by combining sniff strips, it was so easy to imagine good combinations. Well, until I was scolded for having the test strips out and overloading the room in scents. Lol. But it seriously is a good way to sort out which goes well together. Siberian fir and Rhu Khus are delightful. Basil and Sweet. Marjoram together, wonderful. See the Nature's Gift Facebook page for more ideas. As the scents passed around, the energy of the room ebbed and flowed. Mark several times had to remind us to focus..a few times exasperatedly saying, "no, on ME. FOCUS ON ME!" . I know there are many like me who are thinking "way too advanced for me," but I encourage anyone who wants to understand eos better to attend this course when he returns next year. His teaching style is such that you will get it. - and Roz was kind enough to remove the whiteboard erasers, so he has nothing to throw at you as my high school algebra teacher did! 
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Beginning Day #4 - Building a dinosaur. Remember all those times people have said "you don't need to know the chemistry,"? I suppose that's still true,if you only want to buy blends or rely on others to tell you this for that and trust them to tell you right. But what if you wake up in the middle of the night with a head cold and realize you've run out of "this"? The chemistry talks to us, tells us equivalents that we can use instead. Building a dinosaur has been in my head all week, as the molecules form the structure of the skeletal framework of our goals. Again, I don't have a degree in hyeroglyphics but am beginning to recognize that OH hanging on a thread is oxygen.

We took a break from aromas yesterday as many of us had aroma hangovers. But it was amusing to watch 40 people roll from giddiness to subdued and back again.

It has been great to have a reprieve from the doldrums of winter and see green, flowers in bloom and hear birds loudly go about their business. Georgians have mastered offensive/defensive driving, as they drive fast but their lights are slow. Writing that reminds me of an old tv show, where the alien reports back on the oddities he sees in earth! Lol. I even woke in the night to hear what seemed to be the apparent filming of an adult- movie. -perhaps I should have banged on the wall and told them there's an oil for that?!

So today is our last day of Aromatic medicine. I shocked myself when Marge asked a question and I answered her. I even stopped and pondered "who said that?!" Surely not me, who feels like a toddler amongst many of those I am in class with. By the end of the day, it's true, my brain is numb and I worry that I'll retain nothing. But then I remember that it's a familiar feeling, and once home and rested, I'll begin the homework and hear Mark's voice explaining it. He hasn't mentioned rocket science once this time, but I think he's a bit numb by the end of the day as well. Lol. I'm afraid Marge has been saddled with an old fuddy duddy this trip, as there have been get togethers and fun after class hours, but by then, her driver merely wants to veg out and sleep.(And so did the passenger!)

Time to get moving - I should be receiving the "is the coffee ready?" Text at any moment from my lovely mentor. Stop telling yourselves you can't learn this. I never in a million years thought I could, and I haven't -yet. But I have the information. True learning and KNOWING will come from repetition until I am able to DO without checking my notes. But it will come, because I now have the information to do so. So make your plans to be here next fall.

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End of Day #4- We had the opportunity to see the oils at work today. Where as my constant sneezing is due only to the layer of green film covering my vehicle, some truly came down with a virus and had to take a break from class. But once the oils were employed, they returned to class after lunch. I have my lemon tto and rosalina diffusing at the moment to hopefully ward off the sneezes AND their cooties. 😉
There has been a lot of laughter this week, and a lot of tears today. It's more than a little sad to think I may not cross paths with some of these people again. It's not as though we know every detail of each other's lives, but we shared an incredible journey together in the past 7 months. They are an amazing group of individuals, and I am more than a little humbled by them. But, my family graciously let me slip out of town for this in the midst of a crisis, and now it's time to go back. Unfortunately, there isn't an oil for everything in life, but atleast they're there when you need a boost, or a nap, or to just let go for awhile.
I'm excited for those now saying they will be attending the next session, and a little jealous. You're about to begin an amazing journey, and my friend Mark is a terrific guide. 

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Made it home..had a hard time adjusting to 60 mph once I reached Indiana. As it turns out, I may be headed back that way far sooner than I had planned or wanted. If so, hopefully someone will turn the heat up! A lot yet to process, but having my brain so overloaded that it was impossible to think about "real life" for awhile was a good thing. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet such amazing people, who give the best hugs, have the sincerest of laughs, the most beaming smiles, and the biggest hearts. The education was important and enlightening, but those things were the best part of this experience.  

Echoing Sandy's last sentence.   At one point I commented on Facebook "we don't travel to places, we travel to PEOPLE" and that fit this journey.  Mark is a wonderful teacher, helping this aged brain wrap itself around the "why" of why the oils work as they do.  When he comes next year, give yourself  a great gift, and study with him. If you are in process of a certification course right now, hurry and finish so you will be qualified to be a student!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ingredients: OPTIPHEN™- preservative

If you create a cream or lotion that contains a "water phase" (as opposed to a balm or salve consisting of just carrier oils, butters and waxes) then you MUST use a preservative to protect against bacteria and mold contamination.   Even if you are creating just for your own or your family's use, if you plan to use the product for more than a few days and to store at room temperature, you are providing a buffet feast for invisible unfriendlies.

This point was driven home to me years ago when a professional client, the owner of a "Natural Skincare Products" company sent me some lovely samples of her various products.  One sat on a shelf for a few weeks, perhaps a month. When I opened it...there were green things on the top.  Now I know that contamination can take place invisibly, and that by the time we SEE evidence of mold or bacteria growth it has already gone on for some time.

I've queried several of my friends who supply various preservatives, asking which was the best for the "kitchen chemist"... the easiest to work with that will still give proven results, and the answer I came up with was OPTIPHEN™.     Optiphen™ is oil based and will blend readily into the oil phase of a cream or lotion.

From the manufacturer:  OPTIPHEN™  A safe and effective broad spectrum preservative for the "kitchen chemist." Optiphen™ is a liquid preservative providing broad spectrum protection against bacteria and yeasts

Paraben and formaldehyde free, Optiphen™ is effective for emusions (creams and lotions) and anhydrous products such as balms and scrubs.   We recommend using Optiphen™ at 1% of your total formula, and adding after creating your emulsion, while it is cooling down.

Optiphen™ is ISP’s first globally approved preservative and is an excellent choice for formulations that require a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative system. Optiphen™ is a unique liquid preservative that consists of phenoxyethanol in an emollient base. The combination of these ingredients provides optimized protection against microbial growth from bacteria and yeast while imparting a pleasant feel to the finished product. There are no Ph requirements, and you will find it compatible with most raw materials.  We do not recommend the use of Optiphen™ in all water products, such as hydrosols or herbal waters.INCI Name: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol
Recommended Use Levels: 0.5% - 1.5%

USAGE:  After combining your water phase and oil phase, and stick blending until emulsified, add OPTIPHEN™ during the cool down phase, preferably at about 100F.  Do not wait until the emulsion has cooled to room temperature; adding too late could break your emulsion.   

You may also use OPTIPHEN™ in anhydrous products which may have water added during use, thus making them vulnerable to contamination as well, such as sugar scrubs.

For a selection of hand crafted cream and lotion formulas, we recommend Donna Maria Cole Johnson's "Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions" The one disagreement that I have had since this book was published was Donna Maria's treatment of preservatives as "optional" or "a matter of choice."   Please, when following any of the formulas in this delightful book.. use the Optiphen™ at 0.5 10 1.5%.  Keep your luxurious goodies SAFE as well as effective.

Aussie Oils 9 - Nerolina

Sandy writes:

 Time is an interesting concept.  A person can consider the length of time passed and be surprised that it has passed quickly, or lament that the same amount of time seems “so long ago”.   For those of us preparing for the second part of Aromatic Medicine in Atlanta, the two concepts seem to somehow combine.  On the one hand, time is short when one is scrambling with assignments to make certain that all of the T crossing and I dotting are done.  On the other, going back and reviewing information that was learned four months ago seems a life time ago.  When adding in the life events as time marches on, it can be quite overwhelming.   None-the-less, the excitement of returning is palpable, as we look forward to learning more and getting to visit once more with acquaintances met during the last session that have grown into friendships over the winter.

When I last wrote about the Australian oils, there were some that intrigued me that had not yet made it into Nature’s Gift inventory.  I am excited that Marge has found the opportunity to add yet more from the Land of Oz.   One in particular that she and I discussed last fall was Nerolina, and I look forward to adding this one to my collection.

One of the most common paperbark species of Australia is the Melaleuca quinquenervia (Sweet Tea Tree).  Depending on its geography, the small tree has 3 chemotypes.   Mark Webb, of Aromamedix and Aromatic Medicine, notes the confusion caused by this, with resulting varieties being improperly classified and named, often confused with the Broad Leaved Tea Tree (Melaleuca viridiflora).

The Melaleuca quinquenervia CT nerolidol/linalool variety is known as Nerolina.   Mark has noted that Nerolidol is recognized in the perfume industry as “floral, green citrus with woody, waxy nuances”.  It is a sticky substance that allows it to adhere well to the skin.

Of course, those of us in the U.S. will remember that the Australian use of essential oils is on a level far and above the aromatherapy applications in the states, as they have come to recognize already the medicinal qualities of aromatics not yet highly understood here.  But, just as it is fun to learn new cultures, many are interested in learning how essential oils are utilized.
Owing to the high content of nerolidol and linalool in Nerolina, this sweet tree melaleuca has gained popularity in Australia, not only for its lovely aroma, but its healing qualities as well.  This sesquiterpenol/monoterpenol combination creates an antiseptic/anti-inflammatory powerhouse that is more healing in nature than its antimicrobial relative.

There are many anecdotal claims to Nerolidol, and scientific experiments are underway to verify the therapeutic effectiveness of the constituent.  One that stands out in particular is in regard to its effectiveness in relieving pain and inflammation related to tissue damage in lab mice.   It will be interesting to see how success in the lab situation plays out in clinical trials.
Meanwhile, in his book, Aromatica, Peter Holmes describes the oil as “restoring, calming.”    Mark Webb concurs, noting that he finds that the balance of nerolidol/linalool is both soothing and uplifting.   He describes the oil as “slightly fruity, floral-green scent of leaves”.   Webb warns that he has come across specimens on the market that has a sour/dirty, unpleasant note to them, and notes that he has used Nerolina as an effective head lice treatment.

You may read more and order Nerolina Essential Oil here.