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Tea Tree Essential Oil - Gas Chromatography Analysis

By Ann C Wooledge
on June 11, 2015

Gas Chromatography Analysis  – Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Country of Origin – Australia

Steam distilled from organic leaves - fresh batch received December 2016 - Lot #611021

COMPONENT

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL

Terpinen-4-ol

44%

Gamma-terpinene         

20%

Alpha-terpinene

10%

Terpinolene      

3.0%

     

 

Alpha-terpineol               

3.0%

Alpha-pinene

2.0%

Para-cymene

2.0%

Delta-cadinene

1.0%

Alloaromandendrene          

0.10%

 

 

Limonene

1.0%

Beta-pinene      

1.0%

Viridiflorene

1.0%

Sabinene hydrate <cis>

0.04%

1,8-cineole

 3.0%

alpha-copaene 0.10%
Caryophyllene <trans> 0.30%
beta-copaene 1.0%
Linalool 0.04%
alpha-humulene 0.05%
alpha-thujene 1.0%
Myrcene 1.0%
alpha-phellandrene 0.50%
beta-phellandrene 1.0%

 

Foot rub please?

By Ann C Wooledge
on February 09, 2014
3 comments

 

 

I've recently been hearing rumblings within the aromatherapy community telling us that the often repeated recommendation to use essential oils on our feet was a useless method and now declared a "myth". The reasoning I've read is that the bottom of the foot is thicker than other areas of the body and the skin is a “barrier”. I read a few blogs where colleagues were repeating this, but intuitively I knew that this method has worked for me, my friends, family and customers now for over 10 years - so I was intrigued and wondering why they were saying it didn’t work? I put this thought in the back of my mind as I went about doing things that were further at the top of my to-do list. I did mention in a couple of places that I knew it (the foot rub) worked and I'd have to "ponder" it.


Light-bulb duh moment!
 

Then it was the proverbial light-bulb moment as I was doing a "foot rub" on myself before going to bed. I do this often for myself and my husband. We then cover the area with thick socks to enhance absorption. This time, as I was rubbing my feet, I'm thinking DUH!! Now do me a favor and take off your shoes and socks and look at your feet - what do you see? Veins!! There are arteries very close to the surface as well. This is one of the most vascular places on your body! This vast and intricate system of veins and arteries are also VERY close to the surface without additional subcutaneous tissue to have to penetrate - and this includes the bottom of your feet. Take a look at the picture above! Why do we nurses start IV's in the hands and feet? Because that's where the veins are close to the surface and there are a lot of them! 

 

The Mythical Debate:

I believe the argument addressed mainly the BOTTOM of your feet and that the skin in this area is “thicker”. Well, this is true; however, when I do a foot rub for myself or when I would do it for my patients and husband, it is a full foot rub - top, sides, bottom and ankles, and when I tell people to do a chest rub, back rub and foot rub - that is what I mean. I don't really know of anyone who just rubs anything ONLY on the bottom of the feet. I need to ask some of my massage therapist friends, but regardless, a foot rub with essential oils diluted properly in carrier oil is not only very satisfying and relaxing, the essential oils are absorbed very effectively due to the extensive vascular system in that area. The other reason I always liked foot rubs for my patients was that it was not as invasive as rubbing a back or chest. In the hospital environment of pokes, prods, and open doors at all times of the day and night, it was just an easy way to bring comfort to patients. Hand rubs (massages) are also very effective for some of the same reasons - the hands are non-invasive and vascular, clothing doesn’t have to be removed and it takes very little time. You also don’t have to be a Licensed Massage Therapist to do it. So - please do continue to do "foot rubs" with your essential oils. It has also been proven that it does work so much better if you cover the area where you are applying the essential oils as absorption is increased many fold. I don't think we need research studies to tell us why that would be true, but there are some available.

 

Other Aromatherapy Opinions

I did take another look through some of my favorite aromatherapy books and I found that Kurt Schnaubelt, Shirley Price and Jane Buckle all talk about foot massage and how effective it is. Shirley Price in her book “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals” also gives detailed instructions with pictures of how to perform a foot and lower leg massage. Jane Buckle mentions in a discussion about foot and hand massage that “touch has been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce lower back pain, relieve anxiety and alleviate depression.”

I had a very difficult time finding pictures that I could legally purchase and use for this article. I even scanned some pictures from some of my textbooks, but decided that probably wasn't legal either. So here is a link that shows an assortment of pictures of the vascular system for our feet. 

 

So there the "myth" has been de-mythed!  

 

Thanks for listening!

 

 

Ann's mission statement is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health and nutrition. Ann is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

 

 

Spring Vegetable Stew

By Recipes for a Healthier You Vegetarian Entrees
on April 17, 2012

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew Recipe

Still putting the finishing touches on the blog about the extremely powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of clove, both as an essential oil and a spice/herb. In the meantime, I came across this recipe and with AICR's permission I'm posting it for you. They are our information site for all things pertaining to cancer and nutrition. If you visit, take a minute to donate a little (or a lot) if you can. They are really making a difference in the world of cancer research and information. The original article is here.


Picture by permission from American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)


Satisfying Spring Stew

This hearty one-pot is full of cancer-fighting vegetables and flavorful herbs and spices. Best of all each serving weighs in at only 300 calories and 6 grams of fat, making it a great dish to help you maintain a healthy weight. Butternut squash and carrots contain cancer-fighting carotenoids while onions and garlic pack quercetin and allixin —compounds that show the ability to slow tumor growth in the lab. Serve with hearty brown rice or whole-wheat couscous for the perfect New American Plate meal.

 Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (low-sodium chicken broth may be substituted for a non-vegetarian dish)
1/2 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground paprika
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder for spices from chili powder through cardamom)
1 lb. (2 cups diced) small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup raisins
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" slices
1 (15-oz) can garbanzos, drained
1/4 cup pitted black olives, halved
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white or black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cups cooked brown rice (whole-wheat couscous may be substituted)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, combine spices in a mixing bowl then stir them into pot. Add butternut squash, raisins, carrots and garlic. Cover and continue simmering until vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let me know if you try it!

 


 

Cajeput essential oil (Melaleluca cajeputi)

By Healthy Planet Blog Aromatherapy at Home
on August 23, 2011

Cajeput (Melaleuca cajeputi) essential oil profile:

 

The most recent addition to our Essential Oil Database where you will find in-depth information about this particular essential oil as well as others as we work to complete this, what we feel to be, very important information. Melaleuca leucadendron = cajeputi – would be the another name for this oil. Cajeput, or Caju-puti, as it is called in Malaysia means white wood, since it’s wood is – well – white. This particular oil is steam distilled from fresh leaves and twigs of the paperbark tree. This oil is penetrating, a bit camphorous with a slightly medicinal odor, not unlike and related to other members of the Melaleuca group, such as eucaplytus, clove, niaouli and the familiar tea tree. Valued for its medicinal properties, the leaves of this tree are used by the indigenous population for respiratory and muscular problems. In Europe the oil is used in herbal medicines for its warming properties. This oil is occasionally used as a flavor component in food products and soft drinks. It has also been used as a freshening fragrance in soaps, detergents, cosmetics and some perfumes.

Follow the links provided for the "rest of the story"!

Thanks for listening!


Does black pepper cause cancer?!

By Ann C Wooledge
on August 16, 2011
3 comments

Updated February 28, 2014

What's interesting, to me at least, is that I had spent the better part of the day documenting how and why some of the chemical constituents in Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) essential oil actually inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells. I usually check the internet last - and for a reason. It usually is full of contradictory information, lots of fluff and I particularly hate those "information-based" sites that have far more advertisements than anything resembling researched, evidence-based information. Most of them are just repeating what they've seen on other websites and/or some of the million aromatherapy books on the market place today. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of very good books on the subject of essential oils and aromatherapy. I use mine often and greatly appreciate the time and effort that must have gone into the research and information the authors have shared with us. We do have a list of "resources" where we list the books I have used over the years that are definitely well worth purchasing. I need to update that, but I don't recommend a book unless I have actually read it and feel that it's worth recommending.

 

I noticed, however, as I did a search for black pepper, I came up with quite a few sites telling me that black pepper (the spice) was in fact "pathogenic and carcinogenic." One website in particular also included in that category cayenne pepper, vinegar and garlic and "hundreds of other condiments that are likewise pathogenic and carcinogenic." Okay - I'm thinking whatever. I checked, however, and they are not the only websites out there stating the same thing! This one article was dated 1980, but this website had a current blog and frankly some other inaccuracies about some subjects that I am familiar with. Of course they are talking about the pepper berry itself that we all use as ground pepper along with our salt shakers, not the essential oil. They also said this information was "according to the University of Kentucky." So I did a search trying to find the abstract for this information. Of course all I got was more links back to this particular website.

Black Pepper actually fights cancer!

I was originally researching the essential oil of black pepper and I'll talk more about that in a minute. But while doing so, I came across many articles (with references this time) stating that black pepper as a spice has a principal phytonutrient called piperine. According to scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, they found that when piperine is combined with curcumin, an anticancer extract of the turmeric herb, it stopped the growth of cancer-forming cells. "High concentrations of the two extracts completely inhibited breast-cancer-forming stem cells." The information published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (1), is the first to suggest these dietary compounds could prevent cancer by targeting stem cells. I wasn't able to determine at this point what "high concentrations" consisted of, but there were many references to this phytonutrient's ability to inhibit cancer cells. I'm assuming that is also why there are a lot of supplements now available for both curcumin and piperine.

Now I have to admit, I could not find piperine mentioned anywhere as a chemical constituent of the essential oil of black pepper. I'm not a molecular biologist but I'm sure someone can enlighten me as to the correlation. I do know that we aromatherapists often assume that the plant (spice in this instance) and the essential oil have the same properties - and they usually do, but not always.

Black Pepper essential oil fights cancer!

What I did find, however, is that the essential oil of black pepper does contain chemical constituents that have been researched and shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. Let me start by mentioning that some of the main chemical constituents of black pepper are b-caryophyllene, limonene, sabinene, a-pinene and b-pinene. One study found that the common active principles that showed results as having anti-cancer properties were α-pinene, γ-terpinene, 4-terpineol, α-terpineol, τ-cadinene, τ-cadinol and caryophyllene. "Both caryophyllene and α-terpineol showed important antiproliferative effects."(2) Limonene has also been researched and has been shown to inhibit cancer cells. Limonene is found in high percentages in many essential oils, but more about that in another blog when we talk about some of the citrus essential oils.

However, in another study they found that among the tested constituents the highest activity of inhibition was found when a-humulene was applied to cells.(3) A-humulene is also another name for a-caryophyllene.It is an isomer of b-caryophyllene and they are both often found together as a mixture in nature.

In a third study, three constituents were found to be active against the two cell lines tested. They were linalool, b-caryophyllene and alpha-cedrol. The authors of this study also stated: "Interestingly, beta-caryophyllene and linalool exhibited comparable IC(50) values to the commercial drug vinblastine on the ACHN cell line."(4)

So, as excited as I was with this encouraging information, I still was wondering where the misinformation about the black pepper spice originated. I found what might be the answer in Robert Tisserand's classic book on essential oil safety where he mentions that the chemical constituent safrole was banned in the United States in the 1960's after it was discovered that injecting large amounts of this isolated constituent caused liver cancer in lab rats.(5) Apparently, black pepper has "trace" amounts of safrole. After this study, sassafras use was eliminated since it contains approximately 80% safrole.

Bottom line? Black pepper as a spice and black pepper as an essential oil have been shown in repeated studies to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells! Black pepper is listed as a safe, nontoxic essential oil. To find out more about some of the safety cautions and usage for black pepper essential oil, see our Essential Oil Database, and/or our product description. Even before discovering this important information, black pepper essential oil would be included in one of my top five oils for a home medicine kit.

Thanks for listening!

1. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, DOI: 10.1007/s10549-009-0612-x

2. Lampronti I, Saab AM, Gambari R (2006) Antiproliferative activity of essential oils derived from plants belonging to the Magnoliophyta division. International Journal of Oncology 29:989-995. http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/29/4/989. Accessed August 14, 2011.

3. Loizzo MR, Tundis R, Menichini F et al (2007) Cytotoxic activity of essential oils from labiatae and lauraceae families against in vitro human tumor models. Anticancer Research 27:3293-3299. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17970073. Accessed August 14, 2011.

4. Loizzo MR, Tundis R, Menichini F et al (2008) Antiproliferative effects of essential oils and their major constituents in human renal adenocarcinoma and amelanotic melanoma cells. Cell Proliferation 41:1002-1012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19040575. Accessed August 14, 2011.

5.Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety, A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London, England; 1995

 

 

Meet AnnAnn's mission statement is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health and nutrition. Ann is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

Absorbed into the blood stream?

By Healthy Planet Blog Your Naturally Healthy Skin
on June 22, 2011
2 comments

Sunscreen, mineral oil, parabens - are they absorbed into the blood stream?

 

Interesting post by Dr. Mercola from a study done in 2009. Although we absolutely don't use any mineral oil, no BPA in our containers and if our creams did actually absorb that easily into your "bloodstream" it would be a good thing. However, I'm not so sure our skin allows that - that's why it's called a barrier. I've asked some experts (other than me of course!) and I'll let you know what they say. Essential oils do, in fact, absorb fairly quickly into the blood stream, but again, that can be a very good thing. But Dr. Mercola makes some pretty bold statements about the permeability of the skin. I've highlighted those statements I find particularly questionable - to quote:

Now these are Dr. Mercola's words not mine: "Remember, your skin is your largest organ -- and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Most items you rub on  your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body. This is why I'm so fond of saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to..." and a petrochemical is certainly not something you would eat!

Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.

However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. And once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, it really adds up."  End of quote!

WHY IS THAT NOT A LEGITIMATE DISCUSSION?:

First and foremost, the reason you should choose a nature-based, earth-based product is NOT because of all the scare tactics and the particularly scary discussion about everything being absorbed into the blood stream and then to your organs! Good grief - and this is a Medical Doctor, who, of course, has his own "certified organic" skin care line - just a thought.

The reason we started our business was that we didn't want the mineral oil, the parabens, the sharp harsh fragrances and particularly because of all the products that were accumulating in the bathroom closet not being used because they DID NOT WORK!  I stopped using parabens when I finally found they were the culprit for my breakouts! We discovered the same thing with my daughter. I'm not saying that's true of everyone, but it is a distinct possibility. I didn't even know about the endocrine disruptor thing back in 2002! I just started looking at the ingredients on some of the most expensive products, and looked each of those ingredients up in one of my first books on cosmetic safety and efficacy. The book is written by a cosmetic scientist, Michael Rutledge, "Product of Misinformation - Demystifying Cosmetics and Personal Care Claims, Terms and Ingredients." 

I wrote an article (before Paula Begoun or Skin Deep) on my first website called "Analyze This", where I took each ingredient individually and "analyzed" a 2 oz jar of "Re-Storation by Z. Bigatti", which cost $150.00 in 2002! I looked up what was said about each ingredient and what exactly was that particular ingredient doing, or NOT doing, for your skin. Was it doing anything bad to your body and, regardless, why would you pay that much for a cream that has this junk in it anyway?!  One of the main ingredients of this expensive cream, at that time, was petrolatum and mineral oil - cheap, cheap, cheap. Regardless of the fact they are petroleum products, the molecules are too big to go anywhere to do any good at all. I'll have to find a way to post that original "Analyze This" article even though I was a rank amateur at the time and had not yet learned about the benefits of essential oils or even what Superoxide Dismutase is (thank you Dr. Perricone), it still gives you a clear indication of why you don't need a lot of synthetic ingredients that cost a lot when nature has already provided you with something much better. With one very important exception - at this point in time, "nature" has not provided you with a lot of good choices for preservatives unless you want the cream to smell like the blend of essential oils that are doing the preservation. Believe me - we are all looking for the Holy Grail. Some think they have found it; I don't think so. They (the preservative system) may be approved for organic certification, but they are still processed. Not saying we aren't testing and hoping, because we are.

BACK TO THEN:

At that time, we also had been through an amazing array of totally worthless yet expensive products developed by pharmaceutical companies. My daughter, who has had eczema since birth, and I needed something better. In my research I became acutely aware that it is always a good idea to use products as close to nature as possible. NO - they do not have to have the USDA seal - only very few product lines have that and the majority of those are just a bunch of oils, maybe some butters, melted down and put in a jar - essentially that's a balm! You can easily do this at home people!!  It takes a lot more expense, expertise, extensive research and testing, testing, testing to make a real cream or lotion that actually affects the health of your skin and doesn't rot in less than 2 weeks! Creams and lotions are emulsions - meaning the oil and the water have to figure out how to get mixed together. Think of homemade mayonnaise or vinaigrette's. So - we use "emulsifiers".  In the beginning I used beeswax and borax - it worked but not always and not for long periods of time, besides borax was getting a bad rap at that time. Most of us use what we call Emulsifying wax NF - we use the vegetable based one. Once you've done your testing, testing, testing (did I say testing, testing, testing?) - you can figure out how much emulsifier and preservative you need for the percentage of oils, butters and water in your formula. It is a science, it's interesting and it's fun. By using water in your cream, you can add all sorts of great ingredients that come directly from botanical sources; i.e., blackwillow bark extract, among many others. Many companies are trying to figure out how to make their products meet the organic standards set up by the USDA for AGRICULTURE! So - they're telling us we have to have an organic emulsifier, an organic or approved preservative, etc. What does this mean to you? It means that almost all products that are creams or lotions and have been "certified organic" by the USDA have sacrificed quality for marketing. Look for yourself - what do most of them have at the top of their list of ingredients? Hmmm - organic alcohol! Yep, it may even be organic grape alcohol - it's alcohol nonetheless. They are using that ingredient as their "organic" and "approved" preservative. Do you know that it takes a very large percentage of alcohol to preserve any cream? David Steinberg, the "preservative guru for cosmetic companies" says that alcohol (denatured in the cosmetic world) is "active against everything but dependent on concentration."  Although actually he's not 100% correct on this, because alcohol isn't totally effective against molds - but that's another blog. He tells us that when the "concentration falls below 15% alcohol actually becomes a growth medium." So, that means we need at least 15 to 20%, and probably more than that, depending on how many botanical ingredients are included and what the percentage of water to lipids is - bacteria grows in water, not oils (lipids). Do you also know what alcohol, regardless if it is organic or not, does to your skin? I think you do.

BACK TO DR. MERCOLA:

I'm just not sure I agree with his bold statements about the permeability of the skin. We learned in nursing school that the skin is a barrier, but it only takes a little bit of knowledge and experience to realize that the permeability of most people's skin certainly depends on the health of an individual (diabetics for sure), their age, their ethnicity, and many other variables. Not saying I totally disagree, but there is still much debate out there and to boldly go where no one has is a bit too much marketing prose.

We changed to "as close to nature" as possible just because that's how we live our lives in general. Dr. Mercola has a profit incentive (his own certified organic skin care line), when he says to look for the USDA seal, that is just a bunch of hog wash! A lot of politics in play I'm afraid. Do look at the ingredients - always look at the ingredients. Look for oils and butters that are natural and are at the top of the list. You NEED a preservative!! Unless you want to use your cream in one week or two (probably less in the summertime) - and it certainly couldn't/shouldn't sit on a shelf for very long if at all. That's why most of the USDA certified organic skin care products are made without water! Water causes the bacteria to grow. So do you really want a greasy balm all the time? It's excellent for some applications and we make a great one. But for every day hand and body cream -  give me a thick, rich cream made from certified organic oils and butters - NOT shea extract, but shea butter! You can't make a CREAM without water - that's why it's called an emulsion. These products actually HEAL skin issues, not just cover them up like the dermatology/pharmaceutical products that are thrown at you. Steroids eventually thin the skin and make it less of an effective barrier.

BOTTOM LINE:

If you want healthy, hydrated, regenerated skin tissue, find products that have ingredients that are plant-based oils and butters at the beginning of the ingredient list, not as extracts at the end of the list. Botanical extracts are awesome and they will often come at the end because you don't need a lot and often they are "tinctures", which are alcohol based extracts. Essential oils will also be listed at the end of the list because there are safety limits for the percentage allowed or needed. You really don't want a large percentage of either of those. Ethical cosmetic formulators research and know the percentage of each ingredient that they need to formulate a particular product to allow it to perform the way they want it to - and that should be to be beneficial for your skin and not harmful to your body. My advice? Look for those formulators and companies who are more interested in the health of your skin than they are about how the USDA certified organic seal will affect their bottom line. Oh - and yes, I do have a profit incentive here, but that is not what motivates our company.

Thanks for listening!

Ylang-ylang for High Blood Pressure

By Ann C Wooledge
on April 28, 2011
5 comments

Can Ylang-ylang reduce blood pressure?

 

Interestingly, I received on two consecutive days questions about the use of essential oils and their potential affect on someone's blood pressure. I knew from a post-surgical emergency with my husband several years ago that, yes, they can. After that fairly scary incident (and I don't scare easily after working in the ICU for 10 years), I decided to do more research and see if this was an isolated case or if this was common. First, let me just say that aromatherapy information on the internet has become extremely contradictory and often just plain ridiculous. This blog, of course, is on the internet, but I would urge you to consider the certification and/or education of any author of this information, whether they have an international aromatherapy affiliation such as NAHA or AIA and/or how many years of experience they've had in the use of essential oils. These little miracles of nature are concentrated and powerful and can be very useful when used correctly.

What is a normal blood pressure?

If you're reading this article, you probably already know what your blood pressure readings are and/or what they should be. These proposed ideal numbers have fluctuated somewhat over the years (not as drastically as cholesterol!), but basically the top number (systolic) should be no greater than 120, and the bottom number (diastolic) should be no greater than 80; i.e., 120/80 mmHg. I've provided links below that give good information about hypertension, which is not the subject of this article. 

What causes high blood pressure?

I know - I said this article wasn't about hypertension, but it's very important to understand the causative factor for any blood pressure that falls outside of the normal range - regardless of whether it's hypotension (low blood pressure) or hypertension (high blood pressure.) While doing additional reading concerning the use of essential oils for blood pressure, I continuously found that a lot of practitioners attributed hypertension to anxiety and treated it accordingly. This is not the only reason for high blood pressure, and most certainly is not the reason for chronic hypertension. We had what we called "white coat hypertension" in the hospital on a regular basis - the patient was anxious when seeing the white coat of a physician. In this type of situation, yes, a calming essential oil such as lavender would be very effective. But, blood pressure can also be caused by the fact that heart muscle is damaged, the blood vessels are damaged, there is too much fluid retention - many reasons that are, I believe, outside of the realm of aromatherapy practice. You should have seen your doctor by now and you will probably be on pharmaceutical medication. I'm not a fan of pharmaceuticals, but they are advantageous in many situations. However, a quote from Dr. Allen Roses, a vice president for Glaxo Smith Kline: "The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 % - only work in 30 to 50 % of the people."  Those are not very good odds considering the very high numbers of side effects.  Most cardiologists will tell you that treating hypertension with drugs can involve frequent drug changes, all of which have side-effects, many of which do decrease your quality of life. Again, this is one of those times that any efforts to use essential oils to lower blood pressure, must be done with the approval and cooperation of your physician, in conjunction with an experienced clinical aromatherapist.

That being said, there are case studies showing that the use of certain essential oils have, in fact, resolved high blood pressure. We don't know, however, the causes in most of these cases, but some are obviously due to anxiety or fear. We all know the flight or fight response that causes us to have increased heart rate, but high blood pressure is not so obvious and can be a "silent" killer with no side effects or symptoms. Which is why I am adamant that anyone who is trying to control hypertension or change their medication for any reason should be able to keep a very close track of their blood pressure at home and continue to monitor at least four times a day. Your doctor who gives you a beta blocker to take at home probably won't tell you that or that you should also keep constant track of your heart rate as beta blockers, such as Metoprolol, can also cause your heart rate to decrease, sometimes drastically.

My Case Study:

My husband, Warren, went in for outpatient nasal septum repair for a broken nose from an old injury. Past medical history fairly benign except for back skeletal problems and what I call a "creeping" blood pressure. We went to the hospital where I had worked as a nurse for 12 years and I knew and trusted most of the nurses on staff there. He went through the surgery fine, came back to the outpatient cubicle where I was waiting and it was immediately apparent that his blood pressure was very high. I don't remember the exact number (it's written down somewhere...) but it was over 220/120 - not good. I also knew the anesthesiologist who was covering him that day and trusted him from years of working with him. He began to order a strong IV (intravenous) beta blocker, which was the routine drug of choice in that situation at that time. Normally, we would give 5 to 10  mg doses and check the blood pressure, and repeat maybe 3 times. We reached the maximum dose that could be given fairly quickly (I thought) as I sat and watched what I knew to be a hypertensive crisis and that is was very dangerous. After many doses and what seemed like forever to me (Warren was pretty much sedated at that point), the anesthesiologist wanted to admit Warren to the hospital. I frankly didn't.  He (the anesthesiologist) had worked with me and knew I was a cardiac nurse and could take good care of him at home. He gave us a prescription for an oral beta blocker. Now, in this situation, the blood pressure could probably have been due to pain and anxiety, but Warren has had high blood pressure in the past, but not nearly this high. For this reason, I was concerned about why it was staying so high for so long. Also, by this point, he had been given enough pain killers to knock him out and getting him out the door and into the car was not easy. Point being, pain and anxiety were not the issue causing the hypertensive crisis. Nevertheless, we got him into the car, got the prescription filled and went home. I immediately began to rub his feet and hands with a dilution of jojoba oil (closest at the time) and Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) essential oil. I got out my stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and took his blood pressure about 5 minutes later. It had already come down into the 150/90 range - still not so good though. I didn't try lavender, though I'm pretty sure that would have helped with the pain and anxiety.  I also put the ultrasonic diffuser by his bed and began to diffuse the Ylang-ylang as well. It did finally come down to a normal range within an hour or two. He never did have to start the blood pressure medicine. Why?!

Why Ylang-ylang?

Why did I, in this time of panic and fear, grab immediately for the Ylang-ylang? Most aromatherapists have read that Ylang has been used in other case studies for blood pressure, in what we would call anecdotal cases. It had worked well and I had read that British midwives used it to help reduce hypertension in pregnant women. Just let it be said that we (aromatherapists) don't mess around with hypertension in pregnant women unless we know it works. It's also true that Ylang can be a great oil for reducing anxiety. However, you will also read in many of your aromatherapy books that it is also a stimulant. I'd often wondered about that obvious contradiction, but simply hadn't taken the time to find out why. 

One of the unique things about the distillation of Ylang-ylang is that when it is distilled, it is done in varying distillation times and different "fractions" are produced resulting in different grades and completely different chemical constituent compositions. There is a declining quality of the oil based on the time of the distillation process. Now just skip to the next paragraph if you're not the least bit interested in essential oils, but are interested in hypertension.

The best Ylang-ylang is the first batch produced. I am adding an updated note from a comment from Robert Tisserand, who is one of the foremost experts in all things pertaining to essential oils, where he said in his own blog dated February 2014, "The only essential oil with several grades is ylang-ylang. It is distilled for 18 hours – an unusually long time. Extra is the oil from the first hour of distillation, First is the next 3 hours, Second is the next 5 hours, and Third is the last 9 hours." When I originally wrote this blog in 2011, I referred to information from Sue Clark in her book Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy, "The most expensive is the first produced, with a time scale of up to 3 hours. This is called Extra Superior and contains the smallest and most volatile molecules." This is followed by Extra grade with a time of an additional hour; Grade 1 is an additional 2 hours, with increasing grades up to grade 3. Confusing!? As you look at different books and experts (and non-experts), you may find even more conflicting information. I usually go to Robert as my final "correct" source and for good reason. 

While resourcing our supply of Ylang, usually I am also presented with the choice of "Ylang Complete", which is the complete distillation of the flower, meaning it contains the 3 grades in one oil. The "Extra" grade is, of course, more expensive and in my opinion smells the best as there is a distinct difference in the quality of the fragrance. The Extra is from the first "minutes" of the distillation and is supposed to be of the finest quality, but quality regarding what? Fragrance? Well, definitely, but there are other considerations besides fragrance. I also discovered that the Extra grades have a higher concentration of benzyl acetate and a higher percentage of linalool, both of which are chemical constituents known for their relaxing qualities. The lower grades have increased sesquiterpenes, specifically caryophyllene, with increasingly higher percentages from Extra to Grade 3. Caryophyllene, it has been suggested, could be what causes the harsher fragrance of Grade 3, and it also may be why there are grades of Ylang that are more stimulating than relaxing.  If you take a look at the oils that have the highest percentage of sesquiterpenes, they include oils such as black pepper, which I've personally discovered on many occasions increases blood flow and decreases inflammation - both of which are contributors to improved blood pressure levels. Is there a correlation here? I don't know, but I think it is an area of aromatherapy that could/should be explored. 

 picture of pills and essential oils 

Ah, but back to my story!

The grade I was using that day was Grade 1. So, that being said, the Grade 1 was obviously enough to bring the blood pressure down in this particular instance. There are other instances. According to Jane Buckle's very comprehensive book, Clinical Aromatherapy, Essential Oils in Practice, Freund (1999) completed a non-published study specifically looking at blood pressure and Ylang-ylang. It was a controlled and well-done study that showed that the group being administered Cananga odorata (I don't know which grade at this point and that would be helpful) experienced a 50% greater drop in systolic and diastolic pressure than did the control group. The Cananga odorata group also had a 50% greater reduction in stress levels. Now I'm impressed with that 50% reduction!

Other oils that have been suggested for reducing blood pressure include most of the oils we already recognize as being relaxing, including Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), and Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana.)

Now promise me you won't immediately go out and buy yourself some Ylang-ylang. First of all, you will need the assistance of a professional clinical aromatherapist in conjunction and cooperation with your medical doctor. I think it's a valid option, but an aromatherapist would need to take a complete medical history that would include any current medications, pharmaceutical or over-the-counter, including herbs or supplements that you are taking. And, as stated previously, frequent monitoring of your blood pressure is important and, as is usual with pharmaceuticals, you would need to wean off of any current medication. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. So, as the commercials that I hate the most say - "ask your doctor, he'll tell you what's best for you."

Thanks for listening!

Ann

 

Ann's mission statement is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health, nutrition and skin care. Ann was a Critical Care Registered Nurse, is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

See our disclaimer statements here.

 

Excellent resources to learn more about hypertension:

http:/www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Hypertensive-Crisis_UCM_301782_Article.jsp

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp

 

References:

Bowles, Joy. The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils. 3rd ed.  Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia: Allen & Unwin; 2003

Buckle,Jane. Clinical Aromatherapy, Essential Oils in Practice. 2nd ed. New York, New York: Churchill Livingston; 2003.

Clark, Sue. Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. New York, New York: Churchill Livingston; 2005

Price Shirley, Price Len. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2007

Rosemary Stimulates Hair Growth!

By Healthy Planet Blog Aromatherapy at Home
on April 10, 2011

 Rosemary stimulates hair growth!

 

I was going through the book on planting seeds for this spring and came across an article once again that talked about Rosemary and Nettles being good for stimulating the hair follicles and thus hair growth (yes I know nettles are weeds, but they're GOOD weeds!)  I have seen folk lore and actual research using essential oils in the past, which is why I formulated our Borage Hot Oil Hair Treatment to include rosemary, lavender, cedarwood and thyme. We use the essential oils in a certified organic borage oil base, but you could use your own herbs to make a shampoo or rinse. I have to admit I like the idea of cutting fresh rosemary, lavender, cedarwood and thyme and making an infusion of it and using it to rinse my hair. But, I'm not sure how practical it is or if it would actually have any lasting affect. Essential oils are concentrated oils from the plant itself and are, therefore, very powerful.

I'm sharing the highlighted article not because it's new news, but because it's always good to see someone else recommend something you believe in. In another link here - there is a review of the research done previously showing the benefits of these 4 essential oils for stimulating hair growth. It would be an easy thing to do to - simply place the correct dilution of oils into a shampoo or conditioner that you are now using and test it for yourself. You can find our 100% undiluted clinical grade of each of these oils in our aromatherapy section

Wingsets Check out this link icon 

Okay - so please let me know if you've used these oils before and/or in this combination and especially if you've found the blend helpful. The borage oil is also a very hair-healthy ingredient. 


Thanks for listening!

 Ann



Up Tight and Out of Sight? Try Bergamot!

By Ann C Wooledge
on March 15, 2011

Are you up tight and out of sight?! Try Bergamot Essential Oil!

Then maybe you need some Bergamot.

When I was younger, much younger, this term was familiar and frequently used due to Stevie Wonder's well-known song with that title. It's a happy, encouraging tune with really great lyrics. As I was delving through all of the different news and comments today from many different sources, it occurred to me that there were at least two predominant themes running through all of them - trust (or lack thereof) and fear. I was feeling those things myself - who could I trust to give me accurate information? I was somewhat fearful for our future, but more than that I was becoming more and more depressed over the helpless situation in which the people of Japan were finding themselves. I could no longer look at the video's at all the destruction and loss of life and property. 

At the same point in time, I was also trying to focus on my continuing work on our Essential Oil Database, alphabetically of course, and the next oil up was Begamot. It amazed me (once again) that God's timing is so perfect. I'll tell you why.

Bergamot essential oil has been one of my favorite "go to" oils for years now for lots of different purposes, but mainly just because I love the fragrance. It reminds me of a couple of my favorite perfumes, Jessica McClintock (the more expensive one) and Muguet des Bois by Coty (much cheaper and found at Walgreens, but a favorite when I was a teenager.)  The pure essential oil of Bergamot, however, doesn't just smell very good, but it also has many amazing properties that are well-documented. I can personally attest to at least a few of them. Bergamot is an anti-depressant (who doesn't need that right now), it is uplifting, it is calming and relaxing and great antidote for insomnia, which is something I've struggled with for years.Yes, there are really many essential oils that have these properties, but something that is very special about Bergamot is that it is a light, clean, fresh and uplifting fragrance - which makes me think of spring. I need to think of spring - and hope and renewing energies in the earth. I bet you do too. I love spring and anything that remotely makes me think of spring and bergamot essential oil has always done that for me. I hope it does for you.

So - if you want more information about this very special essential oil, you can find a short version in our "description" tab under the product itself and be sure to look under the "Usage/Safety" tab as well, or you can read the detailed version in our ever-growing essential oil data base (okay I'm only still in the B's - but I'm getting there!) There are many different ways you can take advantage of the benefits of this oil. Today, I simply placed a couple drops on a kleenex and set it on my desk - simple yet effective. I've provided a few recipes under our "description tab." It's very effective in an ultrasonic diffuser, which really is my favorite and most effective, plus economical way to use essential oils.

God bless to all of you and please continue to pray for the people of Japan who face a much less hopeful spring than we do.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for Lip Balm?

By Aromatherapy Recipes Natural Home Aromatherapy
on February 28, 2011

 Looking for lip balm that works?

Me too - in the past that is. 

I've seen, made and used a lot of different brands and recipes for lip balm over the years. We used to sell them and the ones I have left over are still the best I've ever used. The recipe in this article is very close to what we use, it doesn't contain lanolin which eventually just dries out your lips - ever wonder why you have to keep putting it on over and over again? The beeswax is needed to help the lip balm keep its shape, but also it has amazing protective and moisturizing properties. Coconut oil is well known for its ability to heal and lubricate. You can use a blend of essential oils or a single oil such as peppermint (go lightly here - test as you go) to add additional healing properties. This one is easy - I probably should put our lip balm containers for sale on the website - hmmm. The reason we don't sell them anymore is because making 1 or 2 is easy, but making many is time intensive and they are difficult to label and package. So - I think finding some good DIY at home recipes is a good idea. Thanks to Natural Home for sharing this recipe!

 

Please let me know if you try it and how it worked. Let me hear from you if you think we should sell the lip balm containers on the website. We will be carrying certified organic carrier/vegetable oils and shea butter as soon as we can get the product pictures done - so you will have an easy source for the ingredients for this recipe plus many others we will be sending along your way.

Thanks for listening!

Ann


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