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Fir Needle Essential Oils, how are they similar, how are they different? Reposted from Dec. 2014.

By Ann C Wooledge
on January 06, 2021
fir needles, pine needles, pine cones, evergreen branches

 

When I was a young child we would swim in a very cold river. The water flowed down from the mountains and was fresh, clean, wonderful – and cold! Some years later our little small town would build a city-wide swimming pool which is where we spent many a pleasant summer afternoon. What I remember though is the wonderful crisp, clean, deeply pungent smell of the “pine” trees that we walked through to get to the river which was surrounded on both sides with evergreens. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now the specifics of each evergreen, but the rich fragrance was something not easily recreated or forgotten. I didn’t think so anyway because I would smell the various artificial and often expensive “Frasier Fir” or “Douglas Fir” air fresheners found in some of the gift stores. They did smell good, but did not smell like nature and did NOT smell like I remembered the evergreens of my youth. Down through the years I would recognize that same real fragrance while hiking or kayaking but never in an air freshener. Not until I discovered the fir essential oils – silver fir (Abies alba), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). I began to use these essential oils in air fresheners in our house, began to sell them on our website and shop and then in a soap. I knew I’d found what I had been looking for. I also began to do more research about the benefits of these oils as well as any cautions. It was also about this time that Robert Tisserand published his newest edition of "Essential Oil Safety” and we learned that essential oils high in 1,8-cineole were not recommended for use with young children – and he recommended instead the use of evergreen oils such as fir, spruce and pine. Nice!


I then, of course, began to try to discover the differences for each of these oils as I could definitely smell a difference. I will say right from the start that the Siberian fir was and is my favorite, but I particularly like the three blended together. I wondered why they had a distinctly different fragrance and assumed it had to be because of the chemical constituents in each one. So I am giving you my breakdown and considerations of the similarities and, apparently, the differences would mostly relate to how they were distilled. And then, you have to consider the area and climate where any particular oil originates. As you would expect, they have more similarities than differences and as a group, they are extremely beneficial for many reasons. These oils are now my go-to oils for a lot of different situations and I particularly love that they are safe to use with young children. Some of the essential oils are steam distilled from the needles and twigs together, while others may be just from the needles (or just the twigs), which will give a different fragrance and chemical makeup.


All essential oils should be used with caution, and special caution with internal use. This practice is not recommended or encouraged by most professional aromatherapists unless you have a good working knowledge of the different cautions for each oil. The cautions are not, as many large companies are telling their associates, related to how pure a particular oil is. These cautions are related to many things, not the least of which would be whether you understand if a particular oil might interfere with any medications you may taking, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements. That being said, the fir essential oils carry an added caution against oral use. They also need to be well diluted prior to topical use. These oils also need to be fresh, and kept in dark bottles and preferably refrigerated. These oils can oxidize easily and thereby increasing the chances of skin irritation and decreasing their therapeutic value.


According to Wickipedia, “Abies alba, the silver fir or European silver fir, is a fir native to the mountains of Europe, from the Pyrenees north to Normandy, east to the Alps and the Carpathians, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and south to southern Italy and northern Serbia.” The essential oil we carry is from Bosnia. And the Balsam fir – “Abies balsamea or balsam fir is a North American fir, native to most of eastern and central Canada (Newfoundland west to central British Columbia) and the northeastern United States (Minnesota east to Maine, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to West Virginia)." Since I grew up in West Virginia, I guess what I was smelling was Balsam fir! The Balsam fir essential oil we carry is from Canada. And finally, for the Siberian Fir – “Abies sibirica, the Siberian fir, is a coniferous evergreen tree native to the taiga east of the Volga River and south of 67°40' North latitude in Siberia through Turkestan, northeast Xinjiang, Mongolia and Heilongjiang.” Ours is from Russia; i.e. Siberia.


Not surprisingly, each of these oils share many of the same properties as listed below. Many of the aromatherapy texts lump them together as one.


• Anti-arthritic
• Anti-bacterial, moderately so, but also antifungal and effective particularly against Candida albicans
• Anti-parasitic (thread worm)
• Antiseptic – particularly useful for bronchial issues, rhinitis and sinusitis
• Antiseptic – for urinary issues such as cystitis
• Anti-spasmodic – making it useful for muscle tension and possibly for asthmatic issues
• Analgesic, especially for arthritic conditions
• Anti-inflammatory
• Anti-tussive, making this a useful essential oil for coughs since it is also anti-spasmodic
• Neurotonic and stimulant, useful for depression and stress. Probably not a good idea to use in the evening
• Cicatrizant – helpful for healing of wounds, burns and/or cuts
• Said to be a very balancing oil with uplifting properties and helpful during the winter months for those who become depressed with the dark days of winter
• Fir, pine and spruce oils are all considered to be useful as tonics for the adrenal glands and helpful to apply diluted in a massage oil to the lower back
• Due to its antiseptic properties, the fir essential oils have been used for skin infections and acne prone skin, although it can be drying
• Often used in cleaning products and air fresheners
• Believed to be able to increase circulation

According to the excellent book by Mindy Green and Kathi Keville, “Aromatherapy, a complete guide to the healing art”, I found this paragraph that I particularly found helpful: “Emotional attributes: The scent is used to increase a feeling of family harmony and goodwill. It combines the sensation of being grounded and elevated at the same time, and it increases intuition and releases energy and emotional blocks.” Perhaps this is why the Christmas tree is a wonderful thing to have at your family gathering this year. You could even add the benefits of an air freshener that contains the real essential oils and not the synthetic artificial scent. Here is my favorite air freshener recipe and some other uses for these very versatile and relatively inexpensive essential oils.


Christmas Fir Air Freshener:
In a 4 oz aluminum spray bottle add the following:
1 teaspoon vodka or denatured rubbing alcohol
30 drops Siberian Fir essential oil
30 drops Balsam Fir essential oil
30 drops Silver Fir essential oil
10 drops Scotch Pine essential oil
Fill to almost the top (leaving room so that you will be able to shake the bottle) with distilled water. Water and essential oils do not mix, but the alcohol helps the process. You still may find it necessary to shake the bottle prior to each use.


Re-energizing Foot Soak:
Small tub of luke warm water
2 drops of each of the fir essential oils (total of 6 drops)
2 drops of rosemary essential oil
2 drops of clary sage essential oil
1/8 cup of our unscented bath salts (or make your own blend with Epsom salts, Dead Sea Salts, Pink Himalayan Salts)
1 tbsp of honey (as an emulsifier and for its skin healthy benefits)
Mix the oils into the bath salts and place into the water, stirring until the salts are dissolved. Allow yourself to sit quietly and soak for at least 20 minutes in order to gain the benefit from the mixture. Towel dry.

Let me know if you try any of the fir essential oils or my recipes. I'd also love to hear if you find emotional benefits from these oils.

Thanks for listening!

 

Ann C Wooledge, RN, CCAP, Herbalist, Formulator, Researcher, Aromatherapist

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 15 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.

 

Chai tea/coffee to fight colds and flu?

By Ann C Wooledge
on February 11, 2019
Chai tea/coffee to fight colds and flu?

Incredibly Healthy Cinnamon Chai Coffee Substitute


 

In the past, I've used a chai tea recipe (see recipe here) basically the same as this, but I've found that sometimes even the little bit of caffeine in black or green tea is uncomfortable for me - I'm not sure why. I have found, however, that substituting organic roasted chicory root tastes very good and has healthy properties. Below I will give just a few short well-known benefits of these ingredients, but would urge you to explore them further for yourself because they are full of health-giving and disease-preventing properties.

1.   Whole cinnamon stick - from the bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum):

  • Therapeutic activity against oral candidiasis (1) 
  • Potentially beneficial against osteoporosis (2)
  • Improves fasting blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics or prediabetes (3)
  • Marked inhibitory effect against Aspergillus niger (4)
  • Neuroprotective properties (12)

2.  Green cardamon pods (Elettaria cardamomum):

  • Blood pressure lowering (5)
  • Antioxidant (5, 8)
  • Inhibits gastric lesions induced by aspirin and alcohol (6)
  • Anti-cancer and promotes healthy immune system (7)
  • Metal chelating activity (8)

3.  Whole clove buds  (Syzygium aromaticum)

  • Metal chelating activity (8)
  • Strong antioxidant (8)
  • Protection against oral and intestinal candidiasis (9)
  • Delays formation and reduces incidence of papillomas (10)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties may be neuroprotective (12)

4.  Whole black peppercorns (Piper nigrum)

  • Anti-cancer and promotes healthy immune system (7)
  • Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer activities (11)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases (12)
  • Fights oral bacteria (13)

5.  Chicory Root Roasted (Cichorium intybus

  • Analgesic properties similar to ibuprofen (14)
  • Potential antidiabetic agent carrying both insulin sensitizing and insulin-secreting properties (15)
  • Hepatoprotective effect in liver disease (16)

RECIPE:

1 cinnamon stick
8 whole green cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon dried ginger root (not powder) OR 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly slice
4 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 inch of a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp Roasted Chicory Root
2 Tablespoons unrefined sugar (I really like the turbinado, but usually use stevia)
1 1/2 cups milk (non-GMO soy, coconut or nut milk)

Place cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, vanilla bean or extract in a 1.5 to 2-quart saucepan. 

Add filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, set aside, and let steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add chicory root, cover and set aside to let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. 

Return liquid to the pot and stir in sugar (or stevia*) and milk.

Heat over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until warmed to your liking. Pour into cups and serve. (Also good over ice.) I left the spices in the glass that I stored the tea in (refrigerated it) until I wanted my next cup. By leaving the spice mixture in the leftovers, it made it taste (I do like it sort of strong) even better each time I reheated it.


Serves 2-large mugs or 4-small mugs.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. It definitely is helpful during flu or cold season as a preventative drink, plus being warm and cozy. I find it helpful all year long for blood sugar balance and weight loss. I find myself turning more and more to this drink as opposed to my daily coffee. 

Thanks for listening - let me know if you try it!

Ann Wooledge signature, aromatherapist, herbalist, nurse


1.  J M Quale, D Landman, M M Zaman, S Burney, S S Sathe. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):103-9. PMID: 8874667

2.   Kentaro Tsuji-Naito. Aldehydic components of cinnamon bark extract suppresses RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis through NFATc1 downregulation. Bioorg Med Chem. 2008 Oct 15;16(20):9176-83. Epub 2008 Sep 14. PMID: 18823786

3.  P Subash Babu, S Prabuseenivasan, S Ignacimuthu. Cinnamaldehyde--a potential antidiabetic agent. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):15-22. Epub 2006 Nov 30. PMID: 17140783

4.  V C Pawar, V S Thaker. In vitro efficacy of 75 essential oils against Aspergillus niger. Mycoses. 2006 Jul;49(4):316-23. PMID: 16784447

5.  S K Verma, Vartika Jain, S S Katewa. Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009 Dec;46(6):503-6. PMID: 20361714

6.   A Jamal, Kalim Javed, M Aslam, M A Jafri. Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jan 16;103(2):149-53. Epub 2005 Nov 17. PMID: 16298093

7.  Amin F Majdalawieh, Ronald I Carr. In vitro investigation of the potential immunomodulatory and anti-cancer activities of black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):371-81. PMID: 20210607

8.  Amit Singh Yadav, Deepak Bhatnagar. Free radical scavenging activity, metal chelation and antioxidant power of some of the Indian spices. Biofactors. 2007;31(3-4):219-27. PMID: 18997285

9.   Yuuki Taguchi, Hiroko Ishibashi, Toshio Takizawa, Shigeharu Inoue, Hideyo Yamaguchi, Shigeru Abe. Protection of oral or intestinal candidiasis in mice by oral or intragastric administration of herbal food, clove (Syzygium aromaticum). Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi. 2005;46(1):27-33. PMID: 15711533

10.  Sarmistha Banerjee, Sukta Das. Anticarcinogenic effects of an aqueous infusion of cloves on skin carcinogenesis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005 Jul-Sep;6(3):304-8. PMID: 16235990

11.   Yunbao Liu, Vivek R Yadev, Bharat B Aggarwal, Muraleedharan G Nair. Inhibitory effects of black pepper (Piper nigrum) extracts and compounds on human tumor cell proliferation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, lipid peroxidation and nuclear transcription factor-kappa-B. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Aug;5(8):1253-7. PMID: 20839630

12.   Ramaswamy Kannappan, Subash Chandra Gupta, Ji Hye Kim, Simone Reuter, Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal. Neuroprotection by spice-derived nutraceuticals: you are what you eat! Mol Neurobiol. 2011 Oct ;44(2):142-59. Epub 2011 Mar 1. PMID: 21360003

13.   Nazia Masood Ahmed Chaudhry, Perween Tariq. Bactericidal activity of black pepper, bay leaf, aniseed and coriander against oral isolates. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2006 Jul;19(3):214-8. PMID: 16935829

14.   A Wesołowska, A Nikiforuk, K Michalska, W Kisiel, E Chojnacka-Wójcik. Analgesic and sedative activities of lactucin and some lactucin-like guaianolides in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):254-8. Epub 2006 Mar 17. PMID:16621374

15.  Didier Tousch, Anne-Dominique Lajoix, Eric Hosy, Jacqueline Azay-Milhau, Karine Ferrare, Céline Jahannault, Gérard Cros, Pierre Petit. Chicoric acid, a new compound able to enhance insulin release and glucose uptake. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Dec 5;377(1):131-5. Epub 2008 Oct 1. PMID: 18834859

16.  H Fallah Huseini, S M Alavian, R Heshmat, M R Heydari, K Abolmaali. The efficacy of Liv-52 on liver cirrhotic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled first approach. Phytomedicine. 2005 Sep;12(9):619-24. PMID: 16194047

Republished from original blog on April 30, 2013 by Ann Wooledge, RN, CCAP

HOW TO GET RID OF DUST MITES AND WHY YOU WANT TO!

By Ann C Wooledge
on November 26, 2018
1 comment
HOW TO GET RID OF DUST MITES AND WHY YOU WANT TO!

DO YOU HAVE DUST MITES?

picture of Dermatophagoides farinae - common dust mite

Well, yes, you probably do unless you live in a glass bubble. Dust mites can trigger hay fever and other serious allergic symptoms, as well as atopic dermatitis. But the good news is we think we’ve found some ways to alleviate those nasty little creepies. Read on - but first read the unpleasant stuff you should know so you'll be sufficiently motivated to do something about them.

GROSS STUFF:

Apparently, dust mites have been around longer than dinosaurs. Not only that, there are probably up to 100 million different species of mites in existence, from the depths of the ocean to the most remote desert. The common house dust mite, commonly referred to by allergy specialists as HDM (they are so clever don't you think) is also a close relative of scabies living mainly on fungi and rotting skin scales. It is a scavenger and will eat what it can find. For those who care, a common American species is known specifically as Dermatophagoides farinae.

THE REALLY GROSS STUFF:

An average mite will deposit up to 20 poo (dung) pellets a day and these “pellets” contain scraps of food, debris and enzymes that are very potentially harmful to humans. In fact, mites can and will eat their own droppings up to three times. These tiny little dung pellets in an unventilated room can remain suspended in still air for 20 minutes. The food of choice for a dust mite is skin scales, but it will also survive on pollen, insect scales, bacteria and plant fibers. It is, after all, a scavenger.

NOT A PRETTY PICTURE:

Although microscopic in size, the dust mite is absolutely not small in its potential for harm. The house dust mite has eight legs, each with a sucker and hooks. It can easily exist and travel back and forth on clothing, blankets, dog beds, mattresses, books in bookshelves, stuffed toys and furniture. Popular nesting sites for the mite include carpets, padded sofas and chairs, and especially bedding. Modern homes with high temperature, high humidity and lack of ventilation have been shown to be ideal breeding grounds. Dust mites survive best in temperatures in the range of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit and they like a high humidity around 75%. A dehumidifier that brings the humidity down to 54% consistently can prevent a mite colony from thriving. A female house dust mite can lay up to 1 to 3 eggs daily and the maturity from egg to adult may take up to 30 days.

WHY THEY CAUSE DISEASE:

Identified allergens of the dust mite have been estimated at about 20. The enzymes from the mite are known to cause an allergic-like reaction. The major allergen from the house dust mite is so invasive that it has been found in fetal amniotic fluid at 16 to 17 week gestation and in the cord blood of some babies at birth.

People with a family history of allergies can be especially vulnerable to the mite and its droppings. Allergy specialists consider the common house dust mite (Dermatophagoides spp) to be a high risk determinant for allergic disease such as asthma, eczema, hay fever and atopic dermatitis. According to these experts, excessive exposure to the dust mite in people with these allergy issues is “unacceptable”.

KILL THOSE BUGGERS!

I became particularly concerned and interested in dust mites after some atopic dermatitis issues for my husband and a wheezy-type respiratory problem in me that just wouldn’t go away. I had been literally scratching my head over why our usual course of action wasn’t working. It occurred to me that our symptoms started about the same time the weather turned cool and we closed our usually opened windows. We also have a house full of books on various bookshelves throughout the entire house. And we also have dogs in the house, carpet only in one room (which was where we were sleeping at the time) and I admit it, I’m not the fervent dusting type. And, if I would dust, it was only three days later and sometimes less when it needed dusted again! How frustrating.

Regardless, I realized I had to do something as I began to visualize and obsess about these tiny little monsters everywhere. My research showed that a study, Williamson et all (2007) proved conclusively that some essential oils quite effectively could and would kill dust mite colonies. They found that the most effective essential oil against both lice and mites was tea tree oil. Lavender was the second most effective, and lemon oil the least, but still effective.

STUDY RESULTS:

Lemon Oil – 61% of the dust mites were immobile after 30 minutes and 80% were dead after 2 hours.

Lavender Oil – 86% were immobilized after 30 minutes and 87% were dead after 2 hours.

Tea Tree Oil – 100% of the dust mites were immobilized after 30 minutes and were dead after 2 hours.

I did further study and came up with a blend that I mixed with our All Purpose Cleaner (totally eco-friendly of course) and sprayed down EVERYTHING. I dusted and sprayed the tops of our books, the floors, every piece of furniture in the house, the blinds, the mattresses (and let them air dry), under the beds, washed windows and mirrors, the dogs beds…you get the picture. I even sprayed our bed spread. I am dedicated to keeping this house dusted and it doesn’t seem like a lesson in futility now that I know I’m actually getting rid of dust mites and not just dust that will return quickly. Of course, one of the beautiful things about using essential oils in cleaning products is that you breathe in these health-giving benefits at the same time you are killing the dust mites.

RECOMMENDED BLEND:

This blend is now on the website for purchase and you can find it under the category of Essential Oil Blends. If you want to make it yourself you could mix the essential oils with just distilled water, with any unscented cleaner, or a mix 50:50 of denatured alcohol and distilled water. You will need to shake the bottle each time before using. I blended the essential oils of benzoin, palmarosa, geranium, tea tree, lemon and lavender. When I get the blend on the website, I will also give reasons and further studies showing why I decided to use these particular essential oils – other than the obvious lavender, lemon and tea tree.

Thanks for listening!

 

Ann Wooledge, RN, CCAP, certified clinical aromatherapist and professional herbalist

 

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 retired Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 16 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.

References

Williamson, E. M., Priestley, C. M., & Burgess, I. F. (2007). An investigation and comparison of the bioactivity of selected essential oils on human lice and house dust mites. Fitoterapia, 78(7-8), 521-525.

http://www.housedustmite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/HDM.com-Leaflet-2011.pdf

 

 

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