A few weeks ago, Sylla and I went to Moffitt Cancer Center to speak at a Lunch and Learn event for stage 4 breast cancer patients.and of course, it turned into a community project!
Winter is the time of year where we are called to slow down and be still. It might not seem like that in the holiday season sprees, year-end deadlines, and new year jumpstarts, but it is important to continue to find a stillness in the whirlwind of winter. Essential oils are great tools to help bring us back to center.
At the heart of a mindfulness practice is the idea of a "beginner's mind." This means that no matter how long you have been practicing you are encouraged to approach your experience with the mind of a beginner, letting go of preconceived notions, of past experiences, of comparing this to last time and just be in your experience right now.
Check out our promo for our talks on the Essential Oil Roundtable, beginning May 2.
Sylla interviews Colleen Dodt on her early days of aromatherapy and how she uses essential oils now.
As the earth begins its slow movement towards Spring, we can feel the stirrings of the earth in this time of new root growth. We are contemplating how to nurture the seeds that are sprouting in our lives. Lately, we are turning to earthy roots of Vetiver and Angelica for inspiration in our process of growth.
Our first audio interview is up! Listen as Dr. Robert Pappas answers our questions about essential oils chemistry and shares about his professional life as an analyst and educator.
A student writes about her experience learning essential oil chemistry. We love how she is using both educational materials and her own intuition to make chemistry as enlightening endeavor.
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Early this morning, I was aware that I was dreaming of hydrocarbons. Just the word, hydrocarbon, and then there was a line, and then I saw 5, 5, and then I woke up.
One might think that aromatherapists share some of the same sensibilities. Most of us are in this field because we want to help other people. We believe that plants have the ability to help us heal and we are dedicating ourselves to a lifetime of learning this art and science of working with essential oils. However, many who have encountered our field for some time may also notice great disparities in how we use our tools, what we teach, and how we practice. Thankfully, there is something brewing that has the potential to bring our community together even more and expose our field to a much wider audience.
We are so pleased to host the wonderful Gabriel Mojay this October in our beautiful city of Tampa, FL. Partly because we are excited to learn how to help heal emotional imbalances using essential oils and acupressure, but also because Gabriel is just so cool.
Check out his photograph and poem in honor of the invigorating spirit of Rosemary.
We are happy to announce that we have a new instructor on board. The wonderful and talented Shellie Enteen will now be teaching our classes in the Tri-state area.
For a lot of people, roses are the epitome of love. As Valentine's Day swoops closer, lovers rush to buy bundles of these beautiful flowers. But did you know that most roses are bred for beauty, and don't give off the aroma that they should?
It's true! There are over 250 species of rose, and over 10,000 different hybrid varieties. Of these, only three are commonly used for oil extraction. But lucky for us, we get several varieties in the form of essential oils and rose absolute! Here are some ways you can use rose this Valentine's day, besides buying the bouquet.
Here is a short version sample of some of the adverse effects from our new Injury Report, scheduled to come out in February 2015. You will be able to see the details of each entry we received when the report comes out. Most all of these were due to bad advice from misinformation. This is why we believe that education is the key to safety.
Hot Pepper Jelly is another holiday favorite that was a local home made gift to my mom at the holidays; and she always had it on hand with creme cheese and ritz crackers. This year my daughter Nyssa gave me some locally made balsamic pepper jelly. I thought this would be a great time to continue exploring aromatic creations like my recent aromatic medicinal honeys.
I decided to play with adding essential oils to see what may work best.
We're so thrilled to see that the use of essential oils for health and healing has gained popularity over the past few years. Essential oils are a great way to keep your family healthy and happy, but as we know too well, they are not universally safe.
As our injury reporting shows, unknowing moms with the best intentions are sometimes advised by equally unknowing and well-intentioned salespeople to use essential oils on their children. One report we received concerned a baby who stopped breathing twice after the mom applied an undiluted blend to the feet--and all because someone said it was pure and therefore safe! But no matter how pure they are, oils like Eucalyptus and Peppermint are known to cause a child's throat to swell and close.
This mother wrote in her testimonial to us that it is "very scary holding your child while they are helpless."
We agree, and we believe these instances are totally avoidable if the right information gets out there.
In other instances, equally unknowing and well-intentioned health professionals apply undiluted essential oils to children and sell known irritant oils for moms to apply at home! Read more about that here.
In an effort to spread better information, we recently published an article in the International Journal of Childbirth Education on the safety issues concerning the use of essential oils in pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood.
So, you want to use aromatherapy with babies?
Please read our article first to learn the best safety practices. Download for free below!
This fact sheet focuses on the safety issues concerning the use of aromatherapy with childbirth and child care, as practiced by various healthcare professionals.
We discussed aromatic honey in the Internal Use blog earlier, but we wanted to expand and share some more variations.
These include honey, jams and chocolate!
You can can take honey with a drop of peppermint by the tablespoon, or make a larger and stronger amount to be used more sparingly. For the larger option, keep the mixture in a closed-up container once you've added the peppermint (or another essential oil depending on purpose) to the honey with a ratio of 1 drop per ounce. Any container works!
You can stick a toothpick or tiny spoon in the honey and suck on the end of it, and you can also add the honey to tea or hot water when you're stuffed up or feeling queasy.
You can use alternative essential oils and combinations for different purposes like:
- Rose for an uplifting mix
- Lavender and sweet marjoram for a sleepy-time mix
- Rosemary, spearmint or lime added to a single oil or used alone for a zingy, wake-up mix.
For anti-infectious honey that can help you combat colds or illnesses, a good choice would be teatree (although it doesn't have the most pleasant taste). You can also combine the "big gun" essential oils for more germ-fighting ability.
Those include clove, cinnamon, thyme and others. But these are also oils with the most irritant potential, and they require caution. I suggest adding in tiny amounts to avoid burning your mouth. And these should only be used for fighting off infection--no long-term use!
I was also inspired when my new wonderful friend Leslie ("La Grand Jam Dame") gifted me homemade blackberry jam with a hint of lemon—she's perfecting her culinary skills and wanted to share! The awesome touch of lemon came from the couple drops of lemon essential oil she adds at the end when the jam has cooled. It was such a nice, subtle lemon taste in blackberry, and it was the best combination!
And because we focus on this, here's some quick safety information about using essential oils in recipes: This jam is made to be eaten sparingly and savored, and two drops of essential oil in a large batch of jam is perfectly safe according to the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) designation for lemon oil. That means lemon oil has been deemed safe for its intended use as a food additive to enhance flavor in minute amounts like this recipe.
All essential oils are considered GRAS, and it's not an FDA approval--just a list of flavorings and seasonings that are allowed in minute amounts in processed food. This does NOT mean that essential oils, extracts, and so on have nutrients or that they're missing from our diet any more than salt or castoreum, which are also on the list.
See more info on GRAS designations here.
And now back on topic: Once inspired by the jam, I had to try my own hand at creative honey flavoring. I already had some local raw honey with raspberry infusion, and I added 2 drops cardamon essential oil and 4 drops of pink grapefruit oil to 6 oz of honey. Stirred and tasted, and WOW, what a treat!
It was an unusually tasty combo, and I enjoyed by spreading the mix on a hot croissant or nice bread, with some fine cheese—preferably with cranberries! Once spread, reheat gently, then get a napkin and enjoy! This is safe because it's a small percentage of oil in honey—1 drop per ounce—and it's made with safe, non-irritant oils and meant to be eaten occasionally.
And then Leslie provided me with this recipe (below), and I thought I'd share it with all of you. It will be my next holiday creative project.
Have a CHERRY CHRISTMAS, y'all!
Sometimes we get excited about something only to find out it can't happen after all. Ever felt that? But sometimes we come to realize we are getting something better after all. We just did.
I was recently accused of spreading around “quackery.”
It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. There are occasionally people who undercut the research I’ve done and the chemists and scientists I’ve worked with and say, “You believe in alternative medicine? You must be a quack.” It’s unfortunately a part of the package when you’re dealing with a relatively new and unregulated health industry, and it doesn't ruffle my feathers so much anymore.
But this particular critic accused me of something much worse: Promoting essential oils as a cure-all for cancer.
It’s true that I wrote a blog post on how essential oils helped me through one of the most trying times in my life—when I was diagnosed with Stage 1, non-aggressive breast cancer. But I never said that essential oils are a cure for cancer. In fact, I very much promote the idea of using essential oils as a complementary treatment alongside conventional treatment. I myself underwent a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. And I used essential oils to mitigate scarring, improve my mood and help ease the tenderness of my irradiated skin—all of which were the focus of that post.
It seems my critic unfortunately didn’t read the full blog before taking her stance against me. I respect her eagerness to protect cancer patients from unhelpful and dangerous "cure-all" treatments—I’ve been in a similar battle of my own, trying to make sure essential oils are used safely and responsibly. This is a good reminder that we must always search for the truth, and not simply make assumptions based on our opinions and beliefs.
As for the wider accusation of promoting “quackery” in general, I figured this was a good time to explain that it’s not quackery. It's real science that I've had the pleasure to study for 40 years and counting. For those of you interested in where I've studied and with whom, I keep a blog of my experiences here: Vintage Aromatherapist. And here you can find a list of my aromatherapy accomplishments. I'm always striving for more, but I think my achievements aren't too shabby so far!
During those 40 years, I worked with well-known and respected minds, including Martin Watt, Dr. Trevor Stokes, Dr. Robert Pappas and Tony Burfield, to name a few. This resulted in many papers and presentations, including the personal blog mentioned above, and it also culminated with the courses, books, and classes we offer today. Here is my bio, and here is my CV if anyone needs the long version.
I'm truly passionate about illuminating the exciting and surprising truths of aromatherapy and essential oils, and about offering my hard-earned knowledge to my students.
So to those critics, I say: It's not quackery, it's chemistry!