Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anecdotal Evidence?

An amazing turnout for Mondays with Marge this week, as she responded to numerous questions that ran the gamut: sustainability, nursing moms, stretch marks, CBD oil, and much more! 
Ulrike posed an excellent question which resulted in quite a long thread:
Marge, I have long been curious about the often cited "anecdotal evidence" in aromatherapy (and other healing modalities, of course). I have seen you respond kindly and generously and with great interest regarding the experiential testimony of individuals, and I have taken note of your eager willingness to add such anecdotes to the greater "story" of aromatherapy. I am wondering what your personal and professional stance is on the relevance of the decidedly subjective experience that non-professionals have with the very aromatic medicine, which takes a life-time to study and comprehend in its theoretical and scientific intricacies.
Marge:  GREAT question, Ulrike! You always make me think. Thank you!

Okay. ALL that we know comes from individual experience. Even research stems from the original experiences.  Every time you open a book or journal and read a single case study, you are reading shared ‘anecdotal evidence.’

For example, most reputable aromatherapy courses call for submission of case studies.  This is so we
can learn more about the oils we are using/choosing.  For my CCAP course we had to do case studies for each particular oil studied as part of the course.  This involved preparing the oil  with a particular purpose for a specific individual. A set format for interviewing the individual was provided:  Certain info about the patient/client. The condition/problem. How the oil was administered and, finally, the result.
So it (anecdotal evidence) is more structured than you might expect. True, it is one piece of evidence. But do you see the strictures? It’s a bit more than: "this was happening, so I used A-B-C oil and got better.” There's a tad more structure. If possible, find out about the type of pain/cause of pain in the individual and exactly how much oil was used.  (Ex, a 2.5% dilution in Jojoba, applied topically, or  5 drops in an aromastone w/in 3 feet of the bed) and of course, the resulted outcome from using the essential oil. SOME of my case studies had no positive result. So, “this” oil didn't work for that situation, in that case. This is also anecdotal information. Maybe not a success story that time, but information.

When people write to me that they used THIS oil for that problem... and the result; I always ask permission to share. NOT because I think that this oil is going to be the miracle cure for that problem. But because I want a record, with as much detail as possible. So the next time someone emails me for input: “This is what is going on, do you have any suggestions?” I can truthfully and hopefully helpfully reply, “Well, a while ago, someone had the same thing happening, and they used ‘such and such,’ and the result was helpful. You might want to try it.” If THAT person tries the same thing and also has positive results? Aha…this is interesting.  Then, the numbers start to add up.

That's why, for example, I love to publish "success stories" in our newsletters. Because they are on record. We can find them, if we are faced with a similar situation in the future. There is a written, searchable record, either in this blog or on our website.

See, although I have spent years studying under some inspired and inspiring teachers, I am NOT a "holistic practioner." My knowledge base still seems to be "what works for what".. which is just the opposite of a holistic approach. It is using the oils the way allopathic meds are used, and I've been criticized for that. But there is, sometimes, a need to know "what works for that." So much of THAT knowledge has come from the clients who have shared their aromatic journeys with me over the years. It is important to learn the science, the chemistry,why this oil does what it does, and that oil does something totally different,and, most of all, the safety. The safety, "safe and appropriate" use has to underpin the anecdotal evidence. There may be oils that would be very "effective" for a specific situation, but not safe to use. We need to study that and to know that. But every time someone writes to me "this was happening, and this oil helped".. they are adding to our knowledge base. (And if they write something that I think is neither safe nor appropriate, then I get the opportunity to maybe suggest a different approach next time.)

Does that help, or make any sense? ‘Anecdotal evidence’ is the building blocks of our knowledge and our science. Almost everyone in our field today knows that Calophyllum inophyllum with a STRONG dilution of either Ravensara Aromatica OR Ravintsara will ease the pain and inflammation of active Shingles. I think that first came from Kurt Schnaubelt, but someone may have taught him. There is NO published research on this topic. (I wanted to do my CCAP case study on it, but the course required the use of an "inert" carrier so we could study just the effect of the essential oil.) This known result about Ravensara in Calophyllum for shingles is "anecdotal evidence" at its finest. Someday I hope it will be researched and published. But for now, we have seen it work. We know it works. Anecdotal evidence. The first step. And if anyone has access to a population of Shingles Patients... contact me.. we need to do a research study.

Ulrike: Such great and helpful response, Marge! Thank you. 

This morning Sue Pace added a comment on the "holistic vs allopathic" split. "I'm sorry I missed this last night. I've been chastened as well for looking at aromatherapy through an allopathic lens. (In my defense, I'm a career medical person, but certainly recognize the need to look at the patient as an entire being and not just a set of symptoms--I'm trying, dang it!) But---in a way, looking at the science of the oils and "what oil works for problem x" is not such a terrible thing if it gets the attention of allopathic professionals. These people want to see *proof* (scientific studies) of the efficacy of using a complementary treatment before they'll believe it. They're not necessarily being narrow-minded; if you can show them that it works, reliably, then they will pay attention. The physicians with whom I work were very dismissive about my "voodoo", as they called it, until I showed them good solid studies and even helped a number of them using aromatherapy for various ailments. They're still a bit dubious, but I think it's because they themselves are trapped in the linear thinking of allopathic practice. But at least now, their minds have opened.

 Marge: It's a balance. YES we want to treat the whole person! But sometimes easing a "symptom" makes a huge difference to that whole person. When POSSIBLE, I try to look at the emotional/spiritual effects of the oils I am selecting to use, but sometimes ALL we want to do is ease the pain, stop the itch, help with the cough. THEN we can perhaps address underlying issues. Thank you, Sue!!!!!

Note: Monday, May 30th, is Memorial Day Holiday in the U.S., and as of this writing, I plan to be celebrating with my “grands,” so no Mondays with Marge.  We’ll do it again on Monday night, June 6th, at 8:00 p.m. CDT. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

MWM Part 2, Essential Oils for Depression, and Grief

Essential Oils for Depression, and Grief

Continuing on the topic of emotional support, Marge took on essential oils for anxiety, depression, and grief during Mondays with Marge this past week.  Remember, these can be very serious mental health issues.  Do not attempt to treat yourself or others but seek professional help when needed.
A question from Amy, asking:  In supporting someone who is dealing with depression/anxiety/grief, what oils might you suggest to be most beneficial?

These are three separate conditions, and need to be treated differently.  Anxiety, that was answered earlier. Check out our blog notes on oil suggestions.
For depression:  A few years ago Bob Harris's Aromatherapy Database referenced a study set in a
mental hospital where a blend of citrus oils was diffused 24/7 in a ward of patients being treated (inpatient!) for severe depression. At the end of the study period, more than half the patients had been weaned off their anti-depressant meds, while the remaining patients had their scripts drastically reduced. We copied that blend, made it available, and call it, “Citrus Smile.” But even before I read that study, I always called the citrus oils, “smile bringers.” Request a sample of our Citrus Smile or you might see what citrus oils appeal most and ave other effects that you want. (i.e., Do you want the energizing effect of Pink Grapefruit, or the calming, almost sedating effect of Green Mandarine?) It is important to see what effect the individual oils have on the person whose depression you are trying to lighten.

For grief:  The range of suggestions is broad, however, for women, I first reach for Rose...that is what I needed to heal when I was widowed. Look at the oils we use in our SOLACE synergy; the blend we created after 9/11 to help ease the grief of a Nation. At that time, Gabriel Mojay sent suggested blends for our newsletter, to share with our grieving clients. His formulas are on our website here:
Also, we have a list of suggested oils for different/difficult emotional conditions. It's an old list and needs updating, but might give you some ideas. https://www.naturesgift.com/.../how-to-use.../ease-emotions/
We hope some of these ideas are of help!
Have a question for Marge? Join her each Monday night at 8:00 p.m. CDT for “Mondays with Marge,” on our Facebook page.  Questions should be submitted on the Nature’s Gift Facebook page after you see Marge’s post requesting submissions. (Hint: She usually asks sometime over the weekend or early  in the day on Monday.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Why You Should Be Obsessed with Curcuma
I’ll admit to a recent obsession with the Curcuma genus from the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) family. It began when Marge brought in steam distilled Turmeric (curcuma longa) and continued with our acquisition of Javanese Turmeric (Javanese Ginger or Temulawak). To be totally honest, my Ginger fascination may have started with the incredible Ginger CO2 Total & Select Extracts over the winter which I used to warm my feet & legs & promote circulation during the cold. (10% dilution) 
We are even thinking of offering a Ginger family kit/sampler! 

Ginger is known for its sweet-spicy, rootsy, often pungent aroma.  It is warming & anti-inflammatory.  It can also help with nausea. (Our imaginary sampler kit would include the Gingers, Plai, Turmeric, Javanese Turmeric CO2, Cardamom and Fingerroot.)

One of the more interesting oils we’ve come across recently is Javanese Turmeric CO2. Research into “Javanese Ginger,” continues to reveal promising research broadly beneficial. The species is believed to have originated from Indonesia’s Java Island many centuries ago; today its habitat is often moist soil, tropical or island, throughout parts of Southeast Asia and can even be found in Australia.  Indigenous peoples consider Temulawak a panacea or “cure-all.”  The herb is used for everything from headache to nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, immune building, and more. 
The carbon dioxide extracted (CO2) Javanese Turmeric (Curcuma xanthorrhiza) we offer comes from     It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antibacterial.  For application, one might use it in a pain relief blend for any sort of inflammatory ailment such as arthritis.  As an antibacterial, research is showing it as effective against staph mutans, oral bacteria thought to promote tooth decay, and other oral pathogens in the mouth.  We believe a blend of Javanese Turmeric CO2, Myrrh, and Mastic could be helpful for sore or irritated gums.  This CO2 extract contains close to 80% curcumenes!
Indonesia and is extracted from dried plant roots.

It is said to be calming both mentally and emotionally.  The aroma is sweet, softly spicy, and a bit earthy.

Although there are no known safety warnings about this oil I would avoid its use with babies and during pregnancy.

Javanese Turmeric’s use in cosmetics, flavoring, and other products is on the rise this decade as we consider its promising future.  To read more and access the Certificate of Analysis (CofA), visit: https://naturesgift.com/product/turmeric-co2-15ml/. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MWM Essential Oils for the Emotions: Anxiety

Anxiety came up more than once during Mondays with Marge discussion this week.  She outlines common essential oils helpful for anxiety in general, as well as more specific choices for particular emotions including grief, stress, sadness, doldrums, etc. 
In medical terms anxiety and depression are often mentioned together.  Please note that our discussion in no way attempts to address any such medical issue.  If you or anyone you know may be clinically depressed or suicidal, please go to the ER or contact medical professionals immediately. 
That said, anxiety is a rather human issue.  It is not fear, per se.  It can range from nervousness about taking a test or giving a speech, or riding on a plane; to stress from money or health issues, feeling troubled over a teenager or aging parent, and even concern for the state of the world at large. 

Pete asks: Hi Marge…I want to make a blend for Anxiety, Stress, so that my friend's stomach is not in knots. This can be diffuser, inhaler or roll-on. Thank you for any insight you can give.

Marge’s reply:
In my experience, anxiety is one form of stress...what I use to treat stress would be different from what we know helps with anxiety. First let's address the anxiety.

In my studies I learned that the specific essential oil for anxiety is Neroli, distilled from the blossoms of the bitter orange. That is the first ingredient. One component of anxiety is the inability to stay present. We are in turmoil over what might happen later today, tonight, next week, and not what is happening right now, this minute. The best oil for 'staying present' in my experience is Vetiver, for grounding. Those are the two primary oils to start. In our Reunite' synergy, we add smaller amounts of Sweet Orange, for laughter, of Petitgrain, to reinforce the anti-anxiety effect of the Neroli, and
Frankincense and Sandalwood for spiritual support.  

For a season, I too experienced frequent anxiety. My stomach wasn't in knots...it was turning somersaults. I was sometimes totally crippled by anxiety. I will never forget the first time I was ever asked to speak in public about the oils. I agree to speak at an industry conference and then dreaded and regretted my commitment.  The time leading up to my speaking was more than brutal on my emotions! I am happy to report that the Reunite' blend got me through it. Neroli and Vetiver, and some other goodies.  In this instance the situation forced me into finding a solution that would allow me to be able to get up and speak to a crowd. I ended up creating Reunite blend for myself and that situation.  Thank goodness, I did! In many ways it changed the trajectory of my life and helped plant my deep roots in Aromatherapy for good. As of today, it has helped so many other people, too!  I believe Neroli and Vetiver are key to this helpful blend.

Now, to deal with stress, we have a long list of anti-stress oils, in our 'oils for emotional issues’ page online. I would try these as singles first to see what she likes, and then create a blend of oils your friend enjoys.

Suggested essential oils for stress: Bergamot, Atlas Cedarwood, Roman Chamomile, all Citrus oils, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Melissa, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Rose (Absolute and Otto), Rosemary, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylangylang. Yes, a long list... so pick her favorites. Use the Cedarwood or Patchouli (her choice) to anchor all those top notes and let her help design the blend. When you are finished, you want her to go "Ahhhhhhhhhh," when she smells it. The list of ‘oilsfor uncomfortable emotions,’ is here.

Tomorrow we’ll share more questions from MWM as we blog about oils to help with stress, grief, and the blues.