Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MWM: Some Essential Oils, Like Fine Wine, Can Improve With Age

Mondays With Marge returned this week with a number of inquiries, including questions about: the names of Helichrysum, oils for helping tweens/teens better focus, photosensitizing oils, and essential oils which will actually improve with age.

Gillean asked: “I didn't realize some oils get better with age. I have a Haitian Vetiver that I forgot about for 3 years. It is now quite thick and has the most wonderful deep, rich earthy aroma. My new Java Vetiver is brighter and more balsamic. And I just ordered your Indian Vetiver. My question: What oils get better with age? And which are your favorites?”

Marge: “Gillean, think 'base notes.’ If you are familiar with the perfumery / blending classifications
Vetiver Roots
based on top notes, /middle (or heart) notes and base notes (like a keyboard) think of the deepest base notes. Those are the oils that improve with age. Think the roots, like Vetiver and Angelica Root, or the woods such as Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Buddhawood, etc. Oh, and the exception among green leafy plants. Patchouli also improves with age.  Any of these oils will develop a smoothness as they age that isn't found in "fresh from the still" specimens. 

Back in the late 1990's I was given a tiny vial of true Mysore Sandalwood, distilled and bottled (and sealed!) in 1942, so it was close to 60 years old. In my memory, that has always been the benchmark against which I've measured every Sandalwood. It was a one-dram vial. I promptly gave 1/2 the contents to Christopher McMahan, from White Lotus... he and I were both attending either our first or second Aromatherapy conference and I knew how he loved Sandalwood. I hope he still has his...I promptly lost mine... it's here SOMEWHERE but I've not seen it for years.... (It was a gift from Robert Seidel, of The Essential Oil Company.)

Now, I do NOT recommend locking oils away for years. They are meant to be enjoyed. But in 2002, we brought in a really really nice Indian Sandalwood. One of my staffers bought 15 mls then, and put it away for her son's wedding. Her son was, I think 8 at the time…That is how the woods and roots last.

Which are my favorites? I really tend to like all of them, but a good Sandalwood, a good Atlas or Himalayan Cedarwood—ah…lovely...and a good Vetiver, of course! (Of our Vetivers, my favorite is the Haitian, right now... and our Tamil Sandalwoods... but that's today...)  

Have a burning aromatherapy question?  Join Marge for Monday’s With Marge each Monday night at 8:00 p.m. CDT.  Questions can be posed under the MWM graphic on our Facebook page beginning during the day each Monday.  Questions not posed there may not be answered.  We are trying to keep everything in one place for clarity! 

Monday, June 27, 2016


Monday’s with Marge returns tonight at 8:00 CDT, as Marge entertains your aromatherapy questions live on our Facebook page.  Be sure to post your question under the MWM graphic…in advance today is fine, too, as long as it is underneath the MWM graphic so we don’t miss it.

Apparently not a fan of Neroli, Doyle asked a question concerning anxiety and aromatherapy. (it is a
more feminine aroma!)
Doyle:  "Not including Neroli, which oil is best for anxiety?"  (This tickled Christi because she is also not a Neroli fan & has spent years trying to find its equal without success.)
Marge: “That is a trick question, because NOTHING is as effective as Neroli... even a drop at a low dilution can work wonders. However, my CCAP course teaches that Petitgrain can substitute. This is not my experience, but it is what my teacher teaches. Neroli is more effective. SOME of the citrus oils can have an anti-anxiety effect. Blood Orange is anti-depressant. No, not the same thing, but might be helpful. Bergamot can be uplifting emotionally and spiritually. Some of the grounding wood and root oils can help one keep "present" emotionally and mentally, and this can help counter anxiety. We use Vetiver, (with Neroli!) in Reunite'—our anti-anxiety blend. You might try Atlas or Himalayan Cedarwood or Sandalwood, even Frankincense. But… there TRULY is no substitute for the Neroli. I'm sorry.”

For purposes of the blog, Christi adds: “My original intention in creating the Relax Synergy was as an alternative to Reunite, which everyone raves about.  Since Reunite’ just wasn’t the blend for me, I went to work on something completely different aromatically, but with similar uses.  Keep in mind, Relax was yet unnamed.  This was total experimentation! Relax includes Fragonia™, Green Mandarine, & Lavender Mailette.  I shared it with friends and family for purposes of anxiety.  It helped with anxiety alright…too much as it turns out, because feedback taught me the blend was overly relaxing and causing those who tested it out to fall asleep!  (not good when driving) If I were trying something, I would look to Reunite’ Anointing oil or even Neroli Hydrosol, probably, first.  But if you know you aren’t a Neroli fan, then try some of Marge’s other suggestions.  And if you have anxiety and some valuable nap time available, give Relax Synergy a go!”

“See” you tonight at 8:00 p.m. CDT for Monday’s with Marge via Facebook. (link)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

MWM Essential Oils for Seasonal Allergies

Unfortunately, misinformation abounds about essential oil safety and uses in the MLM (multi-level marketing) world, and proper oils for seasonal allergies (never taken internally!) is of concern to a number of our clients.   So we were very glad when Gail asked for clarification concerning essential oils reputedly effective for seasonal allergies during this week’s MONDAYS WITH MARGE.
Gail: I have noticed that finding an essential oil that helps with allergies is not easy. Looking at eo therapeutic benefits, I have only read about one eo that is supposed to help with allergies and now I have forgotten which one! So the LLP blend that some companies "say" helps with allergies does not have those therapeutic benefits according to many seasoned eo users and my research. What does NG have to say about this?

Marge:  Okay, we will assume you are discussing seasonal allergies...first, let me address the popular
blend of lavender, lemon and peppermint that we see a lot of folks touting. I see NO reason why this would be useful. Peppermint can help with congested sinuses but will NOT help for the streaming eyes and nose that are more apt to result from allergies. Nor will lavender or lemon.

Marge: For anecdotal evidence I am told by many that Niaouli, inhaled, is helpful for seasonal allergies and ditto     Nerolina, so you might try either, or the combination. (Christi reminds me of a client who uses Niaouli and Fragonia™ together with reported success.)  We are hoping Nerolina may help eradicate dust mite invaders which notoriously contribute to airborne allergies in the home.  Christi’s had good luck using Nerolina and Buddhawood CO2 in a 4 oz. cobalt spray atomizer. (Add oils, water and a capful of alcohol shaken together to blend before spritzing furniture, floors, or pet bedding.)  Most people don’t even realize dust mites can be an allergy problem, even in a tidy home, since you can’t SEE them. 

Marge: Now there is ONE essential oil that is said to help dry up a really runny nose...and I can't for the life of me find where I wrote that down!

I emailed my teacher/mentor Mark Webb, and he replied. (Thank you Mark!) Cypress or mastic are both strongly astringent, but you also need to turn off the histamine response that's causing the flow in the first place.

Lemon scented aldehydes at really low dose (my note, these could include Lemongrass, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon TeaTree, Lemongrass, Melissa, Ironbark, Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus, your choice) and also the Sesquiterpines or Sesquiterpinols to help,like atlas cedarwood, WA Sandalwood etc.(my comment, others in that group could include Patchouli, Vetiver, think the deep, base notes.) So, this combination in an inhaler or diffuser might be a blend that would help with the histamine response...

Decongestant oils of interest include Peppermint Eucalyptus, Helichrysum Gymnocephelia, and Saro.  Keep in mind all three of these are high in 1,8 Cineole and should be avoided by children under the age of six or during pregnancy.  Another possibility that might be worth trying is Elemi. (often overlooked but excellent for a range of respiratory issues.)   

Also, Tiffany Rose suggested that she has seen good results with Myrrh, and, even better, Opoponax, as a "drying agent" for running noses.   Lots of ideas to try!

Addendum, because I forgot something!  A-pinene is a plant component found primarily in the conifers, the needle oils, which is said to be helpful for "allergic rhinitis" - which is what I have been discussing. Safe and gentle enough to be diffused around very young children, the "needle oils" are said to be helpful in combatting allergies.  Try the Fir Needle oils, Balsam or Siberian (Siberian the most relaxing for nighttime use) Scotch Pine,  Juniper Berry, Cypress, Black Spruce.  Choose your favorite evergreen and experiment. 

Two oils that are said to have anti-histamine like properties are Blue Tansy (tanecetum anuum), from Morocco) aka Morocco Chamomile, and Australian Blue Cypress (Callitris intratropica).   Please note the Blue Cypress should be avoided during pregnancy and Blue Tansy is currently unavailable and scarce.  If you come across some for sale, there is a good chance it has been adulterated this season, which is sad because it is the very best antihistamine essential oil we’ve found. Dr. Jane Buckle first brought Blue Tansy to our attention a number of years ago. 

Marge: Now... there are a wide range of allergic reactions…contact dermatitis...etc... and some of the oils can be helpful for that…but that is another blog, another day. 

Have an Aromatherapy question you need answered?  Check out Mondays with Marge each Monday night at 8:00 CDT on the Nature’s Gift Facebook page.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Learning Essential Oil Chemistry & the Role of Functional Groups

Marge is truly enjoying delving into your questions on Facebook each Monday night at 8:00 PM CDT for Mondays with Marge. 

Stacy brought up an important subject, Essential Oil Chemistry, which gave Marge the opportunity to introduce the wonderful world of Functional Groups to our friends and Aromatherapy enthusiasts.
Stacy: You sometimes hear the analogy, "I don't understand how my car works, but I can still drive." Along those lines . . . does a home user of essential oils need to know much chemistry of essential oils? (Given, of course, that we get our advice from trusted sources such as you!) What would you, ideally, like for your home users to read or understand about chemistry?

Marge: Stacy, the advantage of learning at least a little bit about chemistry is that you can make
wiser choices among oils, and in blending. Now, truth time, for years I ran the other way from any mention of EO chemistry. I couldn't wrap my brain around it, and didn't WANT to wrap my brain around it. And, instead of learning chemistry, I learned this oil does that, and that oil will do that...that that oil over there does THAT... and I am very good at keeping track of that, and can carry most of it around in my head. So, who needed chemistry? And if anyone asked WHY this oil does that? "Magic!"

Now, there is one "easier" way to learn chemistry... and that is called Functional Groups. It provides a format for classifying, "grouping" oils based on their chemical components. (Once upon a time, 20 years ago or so, I had a mentor who did not subscribe to the idea of Functional Groups, so neither did I.) 

For a lot of years, I was able to avoid dealing with functional groups, and with chemistry. I knew which oils were dangerous on the skin, which were sensitizers, which were anti-inflammatory, which were relaxing, etc. And THEN I was accepted into Jane Buckle's CCAP course, with Kathleen Duffy, even though I am not a health care practitioner. And, (drumroll, or gasp, take your pick), Kathy taught functional groups. Oh. Well, now, I have all the respect for Jane and Kathy in the world, and if THEY are teaching this... sigh. So, I had to let go of my firmly held opinion, and start to learn about Functional Groups. And then I took Mark Webb's Advanced Aromatic Medicine course, and HE taught functional groups. Slightly different terminology. What Jane and Kathy teach as alcohols, Mark teaches as terpinols (i.e. monoterpenols, etc.).  Jane and Kathy teach "sesquiterpine alcohols." But they all three refer to Geraniol, and citronelol and well, anyway.

"Functional group" chemistry isn't perfect, because there are some components that don't seem to fit inside the category. For example: SOME Ketones are dangerous, toxic. Thujone, Pulegone, for example. But, the Italidiones that make Corsican Helichrysum such a powerful scar healer are types of Ketones. So the categories and their descriptions don't always fit. But there are some that are amazingly useful.

For example: Esters. Esters are EO components ending in "ate" such as linalyl acetate in Lavender, etc. Roman Chamomile is the highest in esters of any commercially produced essential oil. It is the ESTER content that makes roman chamomile so relaxing. Most esters are very 'benign' and relaxing. There is one exception to that category though. Methyl salicylate is considered an ester. It is the major component in Wintergreen and Sweet Birch. This has all sorts of warnings. So you learn that MOST esters are relaxing and possibly antispasmodic, and you red flag the one major exception.

Then you look at what Mark calls the "monoterpenols" and Jane calls “monoterpene alcohols.” One of the functions of that group is germ killing. They are known to be "anti-infectious" and stimulating. and they tend to end in the letters, “ol.” Linalool (or Linalol, depending on which book you read.) Now, why does this matter?

You are shopping for Lavender. You want the Lavender for skincare; you've been told it will be helpful for acne. Do you want a Lavender that is high in linalyl acetate, the ester, for relaxation? or do you want the Lavender that is higher in Linalool to perhaps kill some of the bacteria that can be causing acne? THIS is why knowing at least some essential oil chemistry is helpful. It can help you make wiser choices in shopping, and in blending.

We recommend our CO2 extracted Frankincense oils for meditation, and as anti-depressants, because of their content of Incensole Acetate... an ester... "ate" that does not come across in the process of steam distillation, so only occurs in the CO2 extraction.

This is the sort of decision that knowing at least the outlines of Functional Group theory can help you make.

Now... we should go a step further. Each component, each grouping, is composed of elements. And there are drawings that will show you what a molecule of an alcohol, or an ester looks like. I still have a really hard time wrapping my head around those. I struggle with them. Do you need to know it? I don't know.

I am often asked to recommend a good Essential Oil Chemistry book which I rarely do.  First a caveat.  At all costs, avoid David Stewart’s book which is filled with disinformation.  Having said that, in Essential Learning files there are book reviews and I am comfortable suggesting these three: Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy by Sue Clarke recommended by Mark Webb as a good Chemistry book and Sandy Barrett says it is very people friendly. The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils by E. Joy Bowles recommended by Mark Webb as an intro into Chemistry. The Chemistry of Essential Oils: An Introduction for Aromatherapists, Beauticians, Retailers & Students Hardcover – October, 1996 by David G. Williams Excellent Chemistry manual recommended by Mark Webb and Marge Clark. From Mark Webb: "brilliant text, well written & appropriate language & information for the target market."

Marge: Sandy Barrett, a nurse and fellow student in Mark Webb’s aromatic medicine class also shared her thoughts. Sandy says, “Forget the stick drawings, they'll drive you batty, and you aren't planning to be a chemist. The functional groups - you need to know what they are and their purpose. As a home user, you don't have to have every constituent memorized - google is a wonderful thing. So if you are looking at a gc and reading constituents, you can google and learn the functional group it belongs to, and thus, what to expect of it. Now, obviously 60% is going to give you more bang than, say, 2%, so there's that to consider.”

(Marge: I have a mental image of my Aussie mentor ringing my neck for this, but even he said numerous times, "people, you aren't chemists, don't get hung up on the chemistry. Your job is to know what the oils can do.")

Stacy: Wow, thank you Marge and Sandy! I'm anxious to give your answers some time and thought. So generous of you to share!