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Essential Oils Blog

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Essential Oils On The Feet….Effective?

 

Without a shadow of a doubt, the most popular recommendation for the topical application of essentials oils on the Internet and social media is the bottom of the feet. Would you be surprised if I told you that the feet are not one of the “best” places on your body for absorption? Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

The Integumentary System

The Integumentary system, also known as the skin, has three main layers: the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous (fat) layer. Our skin is the largest system of the body and acts as a barrier from many things in the outside world such as microorganisms, toxic agents/chemicals and guards against dehydration. The outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, serves as our body’s primary defense.

The stratum corneum is an impressive structure of defense made up of 18-20 or more layers of corneocytes, depending on the anatomical location on the body. Corneodesmosomes are what holds the corneocytes together. There is a mortar type layering stacked between the corneocytes, comprised of ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids (1). Within and around these structures are lipids, which are compromised of a mixture of naturally occurring molecules, including various types of fats. This is important in the topical application of essential oils, more on this later.

Not everything we put onto our skin is fully absorbed into our bodies. If this were the case, we would swell something awful while soaking in the bathtub. However, when we do sit in the bathtub for an extended period of time, we get quite the wrinkled look on our fingers and toes. So this tells us that a small amount of absorption does take place (2).

In order to understand our skins ability to absorb essential oils topically, we need to understand the types of glands of the body, how they work, and other various factors of our skin.

Eccrine Glands

We have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. The eccrine gland is the common type of sweat gland found all over the body, but is found primarily on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and forehead (eccrine glands differ from the apocrine sweat gland found in the armpit).

Why do we sweat? The purpose of the sweat gland is the body’s way of cooling itself. This is called thermoregulation and acts much like a furnace. You set a temperature on the thermostat in your home. When the temperature falls below that set degree, the furnace kicks on to maintain the desired temperature. The body needs to maintain a core temperature as well, and thermoregulation makes this happen. Explained at an elementary level, when you get hot and your body temperature rises, you sweat in an effort to cool your body down. When you are cold, your body sweats much less, and you shiver as a means of bringing your temperature back up. Hair on your arms and legs also stands on end, causing the glands to close so that your body can efficiently trap in heat, and is the cause of what we know as goose bumps (3).

When a sweat gland is stimulated, the cells secrete a solution of primarily water, with concentrations of sodium, chloride, and a small amount of potassium; also known as sweat.

There are two very important points to review in regards to this information. The first is the direction of flow so to speak of the eccrine sweat gland, and that is “out” of the body (excreting). This tells us that absorption of essential oils on the bottom of the feet, which in its nature is going “inward”, happens in minute amounts compared to other areas.

The second point, which is rooted in chemistry, is a term called “like dissolves like.” This tells us that a solvent will dissolve substances that have a similar structure (4). Essential oils are considered lipophilic (fat loving). You have undoubtedly heard that essential oils should be diluted in a fatty based carrier oil before applying to your skin. Diluting in this way not only protects you from potential skin irritation, it keeps the essential oil from quickly evaporating and allows them to slowly absorb into the skin.

We now know that an eccrine gland secretes water and is therefore an aqueous environment. The absorption of essential oils in a lipid based carrier oil happens in very minute amounts through a sweat gland.

Hair Follicles

At the base of our hair follicles are sebaceous glands. These sebaceous glands produce an oily secretion to help condition the hair and surrounding skin. This makes hair follicles lipophilic due to its oily secretion. Recent studies have shown that hair follicles can act as conduits into our skin. It has been shown that chemicals are absorbed into the skin much more quickly through hair follicles than through adjacent sections of skin that don’t have hair follicles (5).

This shows us that absorption of essential oils in a lipid-based carrier oil can happen relatively easily due to the fact that hair follicles absorb in an “inward direction”.

 Other Skin/Essential Oil Considerations

There are a few other considerations where essential oils and the skin are concerned:

*Age of skin. Babies and small children have immature skin, and elderly have thin skin. This increases the permeability of essential oils. Topical application needs to be performed in lower dilution percentages and with extra precautions.

*At best, 10% of a leave on essential oil blend will absorb when properly diluted (wash off products will be less than this)(6).

*Essential oil constituents vary in their molecular size. Smaller molecules more easily penetrate the skin, whereas large ones may penetrate very little, if at all.

The Best Bet For Your Feet

The excipient used can affect the rate of absorption of essential oil blends. For example, gels increase the rate of absorption, and fatty based carrier oils slow down the rate of absorption. There are benefits to both!

Therefore, my recommendation for application of essential oils to the bottom of the feet would be in an aloe vera gel (different from aloe vera leaf extract), rather that a lipid-based carrier oil. Aloe vera gel is water based and will increase the rate and efficiency of absorption (aloe vera gel is a penetration enhancer) (7). Plant Therapy sells a variety of Aloe Vera Jellies, perfect for this type of application.

 

 

Common Misconceptions About The Feet

*Reflexology proves that essential oils absorb through the bottoms of the feet. -Reflexology is typically performed on dry feet, no oil. The preface of reflexology is to apply various pressure techniques to certain reflex points on the feet that communicate to other areas of the body. It is NOT the essential oils on the feet that are doing the communicating (8).

*The pores of the feet are large, increasing essential oil absorption. -The absorption that does happen through the bottom of the feet are not influenced by the size of the pores, rather the chemistry of the excipient/substance being used.

*The bottoms of the feet are the safest place for babies. – It is important to know that using essential oils in any form for small babies under three months of age is not typically recommended. Few oils should be used topically between three months and two years of age. Any parent knows that babies/toddlers love to play with their feet and bring them close to their face, so any essential oil applied to the feet will be inhaled. This is likely how “absorption” is occurring in these instances, via inhalation/the lungs. I recommend gentle diffusion to obtain the same effect while removing the risk of irritating baby’s skin.

Closing

Upon closer examination, we can now see that essential oils can be applied to the bottom of the feet, but we must consider the excipient/substance being used. The most effective places  for topical application of essential oils in a fatty based carrier oil are:

*Where you have the most hair follicles
*The abdomen (9)
*The inside of the arm (10)
*And lastly, closest to the nose for maximum inhalation

Always remember that the quickest way to the blood stream will always be via inhalation. Providing you with trusted information so you can make the best decisions for you and your family, safely.

 

References

(1) Menon, G., Cleary, G., Lane, M. (2012) International Journal of Pharmaceutics. The structure and function of the stratum corneum. 435: 3–9

(2) Why do fingers wrinkle in the bath. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-fingers-wrinkle-in/

(3) Homeostasis. Retrieved from http://biologymad.com/resources/A2%20Homeostasis.pdf

(4) Understanding “Like dissolves like”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIhWWpvKOTM

(5) Hair biology, hair follicle function. Retrieved from http://www.hairbiology.com/hair-follicle/hair-follicle-function.shtml

(6) (9) (10) Tisserand, R. Complete skin series. part 2, transdermal absorption. http://tisserandinstitute.org/

(7) Hamman, J. (2008) Composition and applications of aloe vera leaf gel. Molecules 2008, 13(8), 1599-1616://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/13/8/1599/htm

(8) Kreydin, A. (2014) Essential oils and the feet. Retrieved from http://www.amykreydin.com/essential-oils-and-the-feet/

 

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

Wintergreen Essential Oil – Why It’s Not For Everyone!

 

Certain essential oils carry with them contraindications for their use. Some are more suspect than others, and Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens is one that needs special attention. Let’s briefly look at what the contraindications are.

Wintergreen contains the compound methyl salicylate, in some cases as much as 99%. This is no innocuous compound. Methyl salicylate is an ester, and although it does have mild analgesic properties and significant anti-inflammatory properties, it does not come without risk.

A quick Google search will bring you to multiple sites telling you to avoid using wintergreen if you have an allergy or even sensitivity to aspirin. As you can see by the infographic below, the compounds are not exactly the same between aspirin and methyl salicylate, but they are in the same family and react in very much the same way, with small differences. If you have an allergy to aspirin or a salicylate sensitivity, avoid wintergreen for all routes of use: inhalation, topical, and oral. Those that have ADD/ADHD often have this sensitivity (1).

 

Wintergreen Contraindications

There are other contraindications to keep in mind in addition to salicylate sensitivity. The following contraindications are for all routes of use (inhalation, topical, and oral):

-Avoid around any major surgery both before and after (at least one week).

-If you have any kind of bleeding disorder such as hemophilia or thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet counts).

-If you are taking anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs such as: aspirin, warfarin, or heparin as wintergreen can potentiate its effects (increase the effects).

-Avoid if you are pregnant or nursing. The reason for this is that methyl salicylate in large doses is teratogenic. Since we can’t ethically test on pregnant mothers, it is recommended to avoid it altogether.

-Avoid with children

-Wintergreen should be avoided for anyone that has GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), orally.

*The above contraindications were pulled from Robert Tisserand’s, Essential Oil Safety (2).

 

Using Wintergreen Responsibly

Wintergreen can absolutely be used responsibly. If you have none of the contraindications above, you can use wintergreen topically when properly diluted at a percentage no more than 2.4%. This is what 2.4% looks like:

1. 1 ounce of carrier oil to 14 drops wintergreen essential oil (rounded down)

2. ½ ounce of carrier to 7 drops of wintergreen (rounded down)

3. 10mls of carrier to 4 drops of wintergreen (rounded down)

 

 

References

(1) Food Sensitivities and ADHD.  Retrieved from http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/food-sensitivities-and-adhd/

(2) Tisserand, R., Young, R. (2014) Essential Oil Safety (2nd Ed) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone (p 469-470)

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

 

 

Should You Use Essential Oils In Your Food And Beverage?

 

Would you be surprised to know that the majority of the essential oils extracted from plants is primarily used in food, flavoring, and preservatives, with only a small percentage for its therapeutic properties in aromatherapy? Well, it’s true! This is, perhaps, why there is so much confusion about whether or not it is safe or proper to place essential oils in our food and water/beverages.

Essential oils are used in a variety of ways that many consumers are not even aware of such as:

*Soft drinks
*Distilled alcoholic beverages
*Natural food additives in food preparation
*Confectionery food
*Meat preservation (utilizing their antioxidant capabilities)
*Used as a coating for food packaging films to enhance the shelf life  of the food

There is one major missing link in all of this, the aromatics that are used in these applications, are not the same as the essential oils as we know them to be. What do I mean by this? Let’s dig a little bit deeper.

Aromatics In The Food And Beverage Industry

Consumer essential oils are not appropriate for use as food and beverage flavoring. What is being used in the food and beverage industry is absolutes, oleoresin extracts, and liquid CO2’s (carbon dioxide extracts).

Absolutes are extracts used in flavoring. They are extracted from the fragile flowering plant material by using a solvent like hexane (1). Absolutes are also frequently used in perfumery.

Oleoresins are prepared the same way as absolutes but use the dried herb and spice.

CO2’s is where the current excitement is in the industry, and is quickly finding it’s way into the aromatherapy world thanks to pioneers like Mark Webb from Australia and Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes from the Netherlands. There are three types of extracts of CO2’s: liquid subcritical CO2, select CO2, and complete or total CO2.

Unlike steam distillation, CO2 extraction is performed by using carbon dioxide at varying temperatures and pressures. Once the plant material is extracted, the CO2 returns to its gaseous state and what you are left with is the CO2 extract. These extracts are very rich, are much closer to the true plant, are richer in flavor and color, and in most cases have a much longer shelf life than the essential oil counterpart, without chemical alterations (2).

 

CO2 extraction has been around for decades; the use of liquid CO2 for extraction of fruit juice concentrates was reported as early as 1939 (3).

 

Absolutes and oleoresins are typically deterpenated (4) or rectified (5). Deterpination increases the bioavailability of the oils; rectification removes possible impurities. These are the substances being used in the food and beverage industry. They are cleaner and safer. What is being used is not the essential oil as we know them and for good reason. These methods are what make them safe for human consumption in food and beverage.

Aromatics in Beverages

Folded Citrus Oils 

Folded oils may also be a new term for you. These oils are what are commonly used in beverages. A folded oil has been fractionated to remove the terpenes. This process of fractionation is when an oil is re-distilled to remove unwanted isolates, in this case limonene (6). Removing the terpenes makes them safer for consumption in beverages. This does remove the basic therapeutic properties, but is useful for flavoring.

Lemon-lime sodas use folded essential oils from lemon, lime, neroli, and orange; and orange sodas are made from concentrates containing folded orange oil as the major component. Because these oils are hydrophobic, a soda is really a very dilute oil-in-water suspension. Therefore, the concentrate must be presented as a concentrated oil-in-water emulsion (7).

Again, these are not the same as the oils we use aromatically, and are done in a very specific emulsion, not placing a drop of essential oil in a glass of water.

 

 

Essential Oils Rich In Limonene Dropped Into Your Water

What are the issues with dropping limonene rich citrus oils in your water? When you add a drop of essential oil to a glass of water it doesn’t blend/mix with the water. Essential oils will sit right on top of the water, therefore will be the first thing to hit your lips and delicate tissues in your mouth.

The first signs of distress may be mouth and throat irritation, and upset stomach. If this method of use is continued, there is an increased risk of becoming sensitized to the chemical components in the oil. Symptoms such as nausea, migraine, heartburn, and even stronger reactions such as hives and elevated liver enzymes can result.

Oral dosing of essential oils can interfere with medication and can aggravate other medical conditions. You may have heard something like “certain oils are GRAS” (generally recognized as safe for consumption), but this applies to consuming in food (food additives), not in water.

Where Else Can We Find Limonene?

Limonene is a known potent degreaser; it dissolves lipids. Limonene is used in the automotive industry, for things such as:

*Removal of tar, asphalt, gum, and gasoline spills
*Cleans grease and grime from car parts
*Concrete cleaner
*Limonene is in the popular product Goo Gone (8)

In these industrial type products, the limonene must first be combined with a surfactant in order to be effective (9).

Now that we know that limonene is not recommended for consumption in water and why, let’s very briefly take a look at essential oils in our food.

Essential Oils In Food

In comparison to adding essential oil to liquids to drink, adding to food is not “as much” of a concern. Remember in the food and flavoring industry, what is being added to foods (absolutes, oleoresins, CO2’s) is still very different from the essential oil.

One drop of an essential oil to a recipe “as long as” you have a decent fat source included (is, butter, crème, fatty vegetable oil, etc.) is likely ok. Add more than one drop, and you may very quickly ruin the recipe, so use caution. The better choice here is CO2’s. If you are new to using CO2’s, be sure to learn the appropriate dilution ratios as well as contraindications as they are often different from the essential oil.

Closing

As you can see, there are many misconceptions regarding the use of essential oils in food and beverages. Using straight essential oils in beverages is too risky a practice. I recommend using the true citrus fruit for your water. Knowing the proper method of use is crucial. When you are armed with the proper information, you can make informed decisions for yourself and your family.

 

References

(1) (2) Webb, M. (2016) CO2 Extracts. The How, What, Where, When and Why in Aromatic Therapies. (p 7, 9)

(3) Mukhopadhyay, M. (2000) Natural Extracts Using Supercritical Carbon Dioxide. CRC Press LLC (p 166)

(4) Arce, A., Soto, A. (2008) Citrus Essential Oils: Extraction and Deterpenation. Tree and Forestry Science and Biotechnology. Retrieved from http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/Online/GSBOnline/images/0812/TFSB_2(SI1)/TFSB_2(SI1)1-9o.pdf

(5) Rectification and Fractionation of Essential Oils. (2014) Retrieved from
http://www.epharmacognosy.com/2014/11/rectification-and-fractionation-of.html

(6) http://roberttisserand.com/2014/01/re-distilled-essential-oils/

(7) Preedy, V. (2016) Essential Oils In Food Preservation, Flavor, and Safety. London: Elsevier (p 116-117)

(8) Material Safety Data Sheet Goo Gone Liquid. Retrieved from
https://googone.com/uploads/msds/goo-gone-original.pdf

(9) d’Limonene Products. Retrieved from
http://www.biochemcorp.com/dlimonene2.htm

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

 

 

 

 

Determining Method Of Use

 

With the variety of ways to use essential oils, including some you may not have thought of before, how do you determine which is the most effective way for specific concerns? I have chosen four different concerns, some of them quite common for adults and children alike, and will share with you some methods of use that you may or may not have tried before. I will also touch on which methods would really not be useful and why, in order to get you more comfortable making these decisions at home.

Aches And Pains

There are a few different methods to finding relief. Now understand that the methods I am about to share are not a replacement for modern medicine. If you are currently working with a doctor, I do not recommend severing that relationship. Pain in any form can be challenging to manage, but it can be done. Just remember, essential oils are meant to be complimentary.

Perception

Emotions have been shown to alter pain perception. However, due to the fact that everyone has a different tolerance to pain, and the threshold can vary greatly dependent upon various circumstances in life, studying pain can be challenging. A randomized crossover study that was completed in 2004, showed that inhalation of Lavender essential oil altered pain perception (1). These were not actual analgesic (physical pain relief) findings, but anyone who suffers with pain, especially chronic pain, knows that emotions are very much affected and are an integral part of the discomfort. Altering the perception of pain can be very useful.

Diffusing Essential Oils for Pain Perception

Most all of us have diffused essential oils for shifting our frame of mind. If you suffer from aches and pains, try calming the mind by diffusing Lavender Lavandula angustifolia and see if it helps to shift your perception of the discomfort.

*Alternatively, you can try other oils that you know work best for you to center and calm, and see if you receive any benefits.

Topical Use

Topical use of essential oils should be the go to for discomfort. You can accomplish this via a blend in a carrier oil, or placing them in the bath.

These are a few of the essential oils (and CO2’s) that I would consider using topically when discomfort arises (the CO2’s will be more efficient in this regard):

Black pepper Piper nigrum
Frankincense CO2 Boswellia carteri
German chamomile EO or CO2 Matricaria recutita
Ginger Root EO or CO2 Zingiber officinalis
Kunzea Kunzea ambigua *My pick!

Juniper Berry Juniperus communis
Laurel Leaf Laurus nobilis
Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

Follow proper dilution ratios. If this is for a spot treatment such as a knee, elbow, shoulder, etc, you may go a little bit higher on the dilution. The type of excipient used will make a difference as well. For example, for longer lasting relief (chronic in nature), use a fatty based carrier oil such as Jojoba or Almond. The carrier oil facilitates slower absorption of the essential oils over a longer period of time. If you are looking for speedy relief (acute in nature), you may want to try Aloe Vera Jelly as your excipient, allowing for quicker absorption.

*I do not recommend taking essential oils internally for discomforts. It is not the best method of use, nor will it be as effective as topical and inhalation combined.

 

 

Bathing/Soaking

The oils above can also be properly diluted for the bath. Epsom salts is a great addition for discomfort levels. Make note that Epsom salts alone is not suitable with essential oils as a proper disbursement.

*Please follow this link here to learn about essential oils in the bathtub.

Soothing A Fever

Before I dive into a few of my ideas for soothing the discomforts of a fever, I want to state that fevers are our friend. Fevers are a sign that your body is fighting an infection, it tells us our body is in good working order. The goal here is to make yourself or your child more comfortable. Reducing a fever in most cases is not recommended. I understand how difficult it can be to see your child uncomfortable, and I have been there many times, but resist the urge to try to lower the temperature as this is essentially suppressing the immune system from fighting off the current invader.

Aloe Vera Jelly, when used on the skin has cooling properties on its own. Add the following essential oils (1% dilution will be effective here) for additional cooling effects.

Fever Jelly

3 drops Cypress Cupressus sempervirens
2 drops Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
2 drops Peppermint Mentha piperita
30 ml Aloe Vera jelly

(This blend is 0.3% peppermint, safe for children three and up)

Hydrosols can be used for children and babies alike (Peppermint Hydrosol is for three and up). Hydrosols alone, like essential oils, will soothe, but not lower the temperature.

Hydrosol Spray

Peppermint hydrosol Mentha piperita 1tsp
4 oz spray bottle of water

This is a 5% dilution and can be used for children three and up. You can substitute Rose Rosa damascena hydrosol for babies. An alternative to spraying this mixture on the skin to soothe is soaking a small washcloth for the forehead and neck.

*Use this product up in the course of one fever/illness as there is no preservative included. Read more about preservatives here.

*Just remember the goal is to make the patient comfortable. Neither essential oils nor hydrosols will physically reduce fever, but can go a long way to soothe and comfort.

*Responsible diffusing for limiting the spread of germs will be helpful here as well, but essential oils are not meant to be utilized in this way every day as a preventative measure.

Sluggish Bowel

It is not uncommon for children to have sluggish bowels; but adults can as well while taking certain medications, or for other various reasons. Aromatherapy can be useful to help maintain healthy moving bowels.

Abdominal Washing

I first used abdominal washing after reading Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes book Complementary Nursing in End of Life Care (2).

The theory of abdominal washing is that by placing a cool cloth on the abdomen, it triggers the thermoregulatory system of the body to send warmth to that area. The warmth that is created greatly relaxes the bowels.

You can greatly enhance this by combining aromatherapy. Here are a few possible additions:

Ginger Root EO or CO2 Zingiber officinalis or
Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile for any abdominal discomfort.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia is also a great addition for its calming effects.

What you’ll need:

-A terrycloth towel (a hand-cloth will be best for little ones)
-One half liter of cool not cold water (about 2 cups)
-You will need a proper emulsifier. My recommendation here would be a carrier oil.
-Your pick of the essential oils above. Blend 10 drops of essential oil into 20 mls (just under 1.5 tbsp) of you carrier oil of choice. Mix well.

After applying the cool (not cold) cloth for a couple of minutes, begin your abdominal massage. Re-wet the cloth and lightly wring it out. Use two fingers over the cloth for a baby or small child, moving up to four fingers for larger child or adult. Slowly massage the essential oil mixture on the cloth in the direction of the intestines slowly and with care. Begin on the right side and trace the colon in a clockwise direction as shown in the image below. There is no need to apply pressure; a gentle, rhythmic movement is all that is necessary.

If you do not have access to be able to perform the abdominal wash, an abdominal massage will still be very beneficial.

 

This action will greatly help to support a healthy moving bowel.

Respiratory Congestion

There are many things that can help ease the discomforts of respiratory congestion, helping you to breathe easier.

Steam Bowl/Tent

My go to for respiratory congestion is utilizing a steam tent or a steam bowl. Adults can utilize either, but for children I recommend using a bowl. Use stainless steel or glass as they are both non-reactive to essential oils, avoid plastic.

My first recommendation is a blend of two essential oils for an adult. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus radiata is the “smoother” of the various varieties of Eucalyptus, it does not have so much of an in your face effect, and the 1,8 cineole levels are great to help support a healthy respiratory system and ease breathing. The second oil is Pine Pinus sylvestris, containing a large amount of pinene, a great decongestant. These two oils complement each other well and will help to assist in more comfortable breathing as your immune system works to restore homeostasis.

My second recommendation is a blend of two oils for a child. Fragonia™ Agonis Fragrans is a shrub native to Western Australia and is a powerhouse for respiratory support. Fragonia™ essential oil has an impressive chemical makeup including: 1,8 cineole, alpha pinene, and terpineol, making this oil my choice in this blend along with Fir Needle Abies sibirica. Fir needle has an uplifting, fresh scent—is rich in monoterpenes, and helps ease congested breathing associated with seasonal illness. Paired with Fragonia™, this is a powerhouse blend.

 

 

It is important to know a few things in regards to a steam bowl for a child. The first is the amount of oil that you will be using. One drop is typically sufficient, but you can go as high as two drops. In order to prepare this blend, make a small amount of master blend, so you are able to use one drop at a time.

Make sure to supervise your child the entire time. Since this is pure oil in water, and very warm water at that, you will want to make sure they are not touching the water. You also want to make sure that they keep their eyes closed to avoid irritation.

Pour the water into the bowl and add your oil. Have them lean over the bowl and cover their head with the towel.

Instruct them to breathe through their nose and mouth, alternating as they go, until there is no longer steam present. The steam will likely last anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Steam bowls/tents are very effective; you can safely perform a steam bowl or tent every 2-3 hours as needed.

Chest Rub

Topical use of essential oils can be helpful in a chest rub for respiratory congestion. I recommend a salve for this purpose as it will hold the oils on top of the skin longer, helping to open up the airways.

What you’ll need (you can half or double recipe if needed):

-4 oz glass container
Beeswax pearls 2-3 tbsp
Carrier oil of your choice (I prefer Jojoba here, a wax) Just under 4 oz or 1/2 cup
-Small saucepan, fully washed/sanitized and dried.
-Essential oils

Over very low heat, place your carrier oil and beeswax into the saucepan. Melt the beeswax slowly, mixing often. Turn off the heat and let it begin to cool. You will have to keep a watchful eye on the saucepan, if you let it cool down too much the blend will begin to thicken/harden. Here are my dilution recommendations, they are on the higher end in order to be effective, yet safe. I always recommend using a scale when measuring your oils for accuracy. If you do not have one at your disposal, use a pipette for consistent measuring:

Adults (5%)
After blend begins to cool, add 80 drops Eucalyptus and 40 drops of Pine. Mix well and pour into your glass container. Let cool before covering with a lid.

Children six and up (3%)
Add 45 drops Fragonia and 27 drops of Fir needle.

Children two to six (2%)
Add 30 drops Fragonia and 18 drops of Fir needle.

This does not need a preservative as it is an anhydrous (without water) product. Best practice would be to scoop out the product using a tongue depressor or spoon, but at the very least make sure that you have clean, dry hands before using. Introducing moisture from your hands will increase the rate of spoilage.

*Applying oils in carrier oil will not be as effective in regards to length of time of relief, but can be done if you do not have beeswax.

*Diffusing/inhalers can help with respiratory support as well, but will not be as effective as a steam tent. Aromatic medicine can be utilized if you are working with a trained professional.

Closing

I hope that this helped you to determine which method would be the most helpful in these instances. If you have any questions, we invite you to reach out to one of our on staff aromatherapists at aromatherapist@planttherapy.com.

References

(1) Gedney, J., Glover, T., Fillingim, R. (2004) Sensory and Affective Pain Discrimination After Inhalation of Essential Oils. Psychosomatic Medicine. 66(4): 599-606

(2) Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, M., Complementary nursing in end of life care. (2015) Wernhout, NL; Kicozo publishing (p 98-99)

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

Father’s Day Essential Oil Gifts He Will Love

 

 

Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 18th this year and I am here to help you create the perfect gift. Not many men are into pampering themselves, or “think they like” many of the scents of essential oils, florals for example. I am here to tell you that there are so many essential oils that your man will appreciate, and many gift ideas using them that he will love.

When it comes to essential oils, you will not be hard-pressed to find one, two, or twenty that you adore. Men will be no different, but up until now have only likely been smelling the ones that you like. So let’s take a look at some of the options for him:

Citrus oilsBergamot, Orange Blood, Grapefruit Pink, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Neroli, Petitgrain,  Orange Sweet, and Tangerine.

*Add citrus oils in small amounts to a cologne or signature scent to soften a synergy.

Conifers – Cedarwood (Atlas, Himalayan, Texas, Virginian), Cypress, Fr Needle, Juniper Berry, Pine, and Spruce.

*Conifers are a favorite of many men, much like the majestic cedarwood tree, these essential oils impart powerful grounding and balancing properties to the user.

Herbaceous aromas Basil, Blue Tansy, Cajeput, Cistus, Coriander, Davana, Eucalyptus, Laurel Leaf, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Tea Tree, and Thyme.

*Herbaceous aromas add masculinity to any synergy. Small amounts will do the trick.

Rich & earthy fixatives Buddha Wood, Coffee, Copaiba Balsam, Frankincense (Carteri, Frereana, Serrata ), Myrrh, Patchouli, Sandalwood AustralianVanilla Oleoresin, and Vetiver.

*Fixatives are especially important in cologne, or massage oil. Remember essential oils are extremely volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly. Fixatives will slow down the rate of evaporation.

Spicy optionsBlack Pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon (Cassia, Bark, Leaf), Clove Bud, Ginger Root CO2 , Nutmeg, and Star Anise.

*Spicy scents are a must for most men. I have not met a man that did not like the aroma if cinnamon, just be sure to dilute responsibly.

So now that I have covered some of the options for scents a man will love, now for the fun part. Here are three ideas that can you make at home, a gift that he is sure to appreciate.

Sugar scrub for hard working hands (approximately a .5% dilution)

Olive oil 1/2 cup
Sugar 1 1/2 cups
Raw honey (softened) 2 tbsp
Western Australian sandalwood Santalum spicatum 10 drops
Copaiba balsam Copaifera officinalis 7 drops

Place the sugar into a bowl and add the olive oil and honey. Mix well. The consistency will be similar to wet sand. Mix in your essential oils. The dilution is low as a little will go a long way with these chosen oils (both fixatives). This scrub will help to remove stubborn grease and dirt after a hard working day and leave them well moisturized.

Men’s Cologne (2% dilution)

(Master blend)

Cedarwood Texas Juniperus mexicana 10 drops
Sandalwood Australian Santalum album 6 drops
Black Pepper Piper nigrum 4 drops
Bergamot (furocoumarin/bergapten free) Citrus bergamia 4 drops

Place 6 drops of your master blend in a 10ml roller bottle and top of with Jojoba Carrier Oil or Fractionated Coconut Oil (If you prefer, you can replace the carrier oil with a high proof alcohol such as vodka). This master blend will make 4-10ml rollerballs at a 2% dilution.

 Scalp Replenish Massage Oil (1% dilution)

Cedarwood Himalayan Cedrus deodara 10 drops
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis 4 drops
Carrot Seed Daucus carota 4 drops
Argan Carrier Oil 1 ounce (30ml)
Jojoba Carrier Oil 1 ounce (30ml)

Massage this oil using circular movements into scalp and let sit for 15 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. Store remaining mixture in a glass container.

After the Shave (approximately a 1% dilution)

Grapeseed Carrier Oil ½ cup
Meadowfoam Carrier Oil 2 tbsp
Glycerin (optional-for extremely dry skin) 1 tbsp
Laurel leaf Laurus nobilis 10 drops
Lime Steam Distilled Citrus x aurantifolia (not-phototoxic) 15 drops
Vanilla CO2 5 drops

*Meadowfoam oil is thick but not at all greasy, has a stable shelf life and is protective and rejuvenating to the skin.

These are just a few ideas for dad. You can swap out any of the oils I suggested and try making a synergy of your own. The possibilities are endless for the man in your life, he will love essential oils just as much as you do in no time!

Happy Father’s Day!

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

Skin Irritation vs Sensitization-Your Skin Is Not Detoxing

 

Topical use of essential oils is a very effective method of use, but it can also come with a certain amount of risk if not done properly. There are two types of adverse reactions that can happen, and they are both very different. “The number of incidents of an adverse reaction to an essential oil depends on:

  • Its inherent toxicity
  • The number of people exposed to it
  • The degree of exposure (oil concentration and time of exposure)” (1).

What this tells us is as more and more people are beginning to use essential oils in the home, and the increase of improper use also increases, the amount of adverse reactions will unfortunately increase as well. We would like to do what we can to decrease those numbers by making sure that Plant Therapy customers know what do to in order to decrease their risk, as well as the risk for their family and friends.

Skin Irritation

Although becoming more common with improper use, an adverse skin reaction is not something that will happen to everyone. It is however more likely to happen in those with sensitive skin, or in anyone not properly diluting their oils. Skin irritation is direct result of contact with an essential oil/component in an oil, and is localized. Typically this will occur on the first exposure, and the severity of the irritation will depend on how strong the concentration is.

Healing occurs once the oil is removed. Healing will not occur immediately upon removal, but you should see improvement relatively quickly. Removal is best with carrier oil such as Almond, Jojoba, Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) or even full fat milk/crème. You may need to apply more than once. Follow up by washing thoroughly with fragrance free soap.

If the irritation remains localized, you can be sure that what you have experienced is an adverse skin reaction.

Skin Sensitization

The second, more serious reaction is a systemic (affecting the entire body or organism) response involving the immune system called sensitization. The oil may not bring about a reaction on the first use, however when it does the allergen penetrates the skin, and the body’s immune system reacts to the invader.

According to Dorene Petersen, president of the American College of Healthcare Sciences, “Sensitization occurs once the offending substance has penetrated the skin, been picked up by proteins in the skin, and mediated by the IgE response that produces histamine and other irritants”(2). This allergic reaction begins at the site of application but quickly spreads to the whole body. If the immune system response is activated, you may not be able to use the oil again.

Understanding the Risk

As I mentioned before, the more often you use oils improperly increases the risk of adverse reaction. The good news is if you use proper dilution, and avoid topical use of the higher risk oils, these risks are greatly reduced.

 

 

There are a number of essential oils that are considered high risk for skin irritation, and some are even know sensitizers. These oils carry what is know as a maximum dilution ratio per the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) and Robert Tisserand. This data is taken directly from Tisserands book, Essential Oil Safety (3):

Cinnamon Cassia Cinnamomum cassia 0.05%
Cinnamon Leaf Cinnamomum verum 0.6%
Cinnamon Bark Cinnamomum verum 0.1%
Clove Bud Syzygium aromaticum 0.5%
Clove Leaf and Stem Syzygium aromaticum L. 0.6%
Holy Basil Ocimum tenuiflorum 1.0%
Honey Myrtle Melaleuca teretifolia 0.9%
Lemon Myrtle Backhousia citriodora 0.7%
Lemon Tea Tree Leptospermum petersonii 0.8%
Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexousus 0.7%
Melissa Melissa officinalis 1.0%
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans (East Indian) .8%
Opoponax Commiphora guidottii 0.6%
Oregano Oreganum vulgare 1.0%
Spearmint Mentha cardiaca 1.7%
Styrax Liquidambar orientalis 0.6%
Thyme Thymus vulgaris –(thymol, carvacrol, and thymol/carvacrol CT) 1.3%
Ylang Ylang Cananga odorata 0.8%

*When utilizing the particular oils in this list while blending/formulating, do not go above these percentages to greatly lower your risk of skin reaction.

Skin Reactions Are Not Detox Symptoms

When you have a skin reaction to essential oils, understand this is not a detox type reaction. A detox is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; it is a response when the body has something taken away from it (4). In the case of using an essential oil topically on your skin, you are adding something new to your body that your body has no prior experience with, therefore any adverse reaction can’t scientifically be classified as a detox reaction (5).

You may have heard the argument that “Essential oils do not contain protein, therefore essential oils could not cause an allergic reaction.” While it is true that essential oils do not contain protein, it is the protein in the skin causing the reaction when it comes in contact with the essential oil (6).

Kristina Bauer, of The Untamed Alchemist, wrote a detailed article refuting the essential oil detox theory. She compared the reaction to essential oils to that of a nickel allergy (7). A nickel allergy (nickel contains no protein) develops when your immune system views nickel as a harmful, rather than harmless substance (8).

As you can see, although a rare reaction, skin sensitization is not detoxing, but rather an allergic response.

Closing

When you become educated on the proper use of essential oils, the risks of using them is greatly decreased. Essential oils should not be feared, but respected. We at Plant Therapy want to help arm you with trusted information to ensure your safety, so you can enjoy all the benefits that essential oils have to offer.

 

References

(1) Tisserand, R., Young, R. (2014) Essential oil safety (2nd Ed) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone (p 25)

(2) Petersen, D. (2012) Aroma 101-sensitization. American College of Healthcare Sciences (p 50)

(3) Tisserand, R., Young, R. (2014) Essential oil safety (2nd Ed) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone (p 81)

(4) Definition to detox. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detox

(5) Pappas, R. (n.d.). Essential oil myth #6. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/essential-oil-university/essential-oil-myth-6/10152670686183083

(6) Johnson, S. (2014, October 20). Skin reactions to essential oils. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-5qUyq7CZM

(7) Bauer, K. (2015) Essential oils and the “detox” theory. Retrieved from http://tisserandinstitute.org/essential-oils-and-the-detox-theory/

(8) Nickel Allergy Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nickel-allergy/symptoms-causes/dxc-20267456

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

Top Five Essential Oil Misconceptions

 

There are many myths and misconceptions circulating all over the Internet and on social media in regards to Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils. The ones I will be covering today may not be ones that you have heard before, but I feel they are important to the industry. Aromatherapy is rarely, if ever black and white, and at times “recommendations and rules” become very restrictive which does not serve us well. The other side of the equation of no restrictions also does not serve us well; balance needs to be sought. So let’s dive in shall we?

You Should Never Use Essential Oils On Children Under The Age Of Two

This is a common misconception shared in many circles, and oftentimes something many do not agree upon. Let’s look at the facts.

Essential oils are concentrated, powerful substances. This we know. In Tisserand and Young’s recent book, Essential Oil Safety, 2e, there are details of essential oils that should be avoided under the age of two topically (dermally) (1). It is important to note that two out of thirty oils on this list are not to be used via any route of application (inhalation, dermal, oral); the other twenty-eight can be safely diffused/inhaled, following appropriate safety precautions. This information was misconstrued along the way, somewhat similar to the telephone game that we used to play as kids, to all essential oils should be avoided under the age of two.

Gentle essential oils such as Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Tangerine Citrus reticulata, and German Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla for example can be used safely under the age of two (not an all-inclusive list). While I agree that essential oils should not be the first thing to reach for when you have small children, it is important to know that essential oils can in fact be used under the age of two. Be sure to dilute properly and use caution. All situations are a case-by-case basis as we are all unique individuals. Aromatherapy is never one size fits all and as a general rule of thumb, less is more; especially where children are concerned.

*Hydrosols are a great alternative for babies; follow the link here for more information on hydrosols.

 Eucalyptus Should Never Be Used On Children Under 10 Years Of Age

Once Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety, 2e book was released, the rules and warnings surrounding Eucalyptus essential oil (high in 1,8 cineole) on the Internet and social media spread like wildfire. Eventually, possibly as a result of this, Tisserand put out an update stating that Eucalyptus can be diffused and used topically up to 0.5% in children under three years of age, and diffused and applied topically up to 1.0% children age’s three to six (2). The concern as is listed in the book, and is still a good precautionary measure, is to avoid “near the face” of a child under age ten (3).

I recently completed my diploma in aromatic medicine with Mark Webb, and in class we discussed this topic in great detail. This is what I learned:

Oils containing high amounts of 1,8 cineole, typified by the smell of Eucalyptus, can potentially pose an issue for children. Specifically unrectified Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus smithii, which contain isovaleric aldehyde (IA). Isovaleric aldehyde has great potential for causing respiratory irritation (4). This respiratory irritation can be coughing to the point of vomiting. These oils are also a higher risk for those with asthma. Eucalyptus radiata carries much less potential for respiratory irritation due to the missing component of isovaleric aldehyde.

This is not black and white however, aromatherapy rarely is. Many children can be around oils high in 1,8 cineole without issue, so it is important to understand where the risk vs benefit lies, and if you are not comfortable, either do not use it or seek out an aromatherapist for professional advice.

Peppermint Should Not Be Used On Children

Peppermint Mentha piperita essential oil, seemingly innocuous, does have its precautions. There is however a couple misunderstandings surrounding its use that I would like to cover.

Using Peppermint near the face of a small child can garner results similar to Eucalyptus, violent coughing as well as trouble breathing. Menthol is a very strong constituent in this regard. Avoiding the use of this oil for babies is a very reasonable precaution, as they tend to pull feet to face well into toddler years. Tisserand recommends avoiding less than three years of age, but the oil can safely be diffused and applied topically up to 0.5% ages three and up (5).

Peppermint is also touted as a fever reducer. Peppermint has a cooling effect, which can help when you are feeling under the weather and is also great for discomfort, but the oil will not physically reduce a fever.

Peppermint can be used on a child to bring them comfort for ages three and up, but if you are not comfortable doing so, a great alternative is using Peppermint hydrosol on a cool (not cold) towel for the forehead, or placing a capful of the hydrosol in a lukewarm bath for your child when they are experiencing discomfort.

Pure, Unadulterated Essential Oils Do Not Expire

This is a myth that could cause serious skin irritation. Oxidized essential oils can put you at risk for skin sensitization. Essential oils are volatile in nature; air, heat, and light are not their friends, and can affect their shelf life. This shelf life varies greatly not only from one oil to the next, but is also influenced by the handling and storage conditions of the distiller, as well as by the way you store them once you receive them. Essential oils do expire.

The farmers who care for and harvest the plants, the way in which they are distilled, the care in which they are packaged and stored, does not change the fact that most essential oils will expire over time. The chemistry from one brand to the next is the same, and as such the fact that essential oils do eventually expire is not brand specific.

The functional family of sesquiterpenols such as Patchouli Pogostemon cablin, Sandalwood (all varieties), and Vetiver Vetiveria zizanoides are the only family that does not easily oxidize (the time varies). These essential oils actually improve with age. I had a Patchouli that was ten years old that was incredible, and it would have only gotten better from there.

Please follow this link to read in greater detail the truth about the shelf life of essential oils.

Frankincense Is The Most Useful Essential Oil

Frankincense is a beautiful essential oil; there is no argument there. The oil has many wonderful properties; it is unique for mental wellness and has been used for centuries in the spiritual realm. As of late, this is not the use that is being talked about in many circles; the one thing that it is consistently talked about is its ability to cure cancer. The buck stops here.

The basis of this erroneous statement is that there is boswellic acid in Frankincense essential oil. No matter which way you look at it, boswellic acid is too heavy a molecule to make it through steam distillation. There is no boswellic acid in Frankincense essential oil. This is concerning as I know so many who have been misled and tried or are trying this method, and are beyond distraught to find out that it is not working.

As more and more are using Frankincense essential oil, many state as much as every day, the sustainability issues surrounding this oil grows quickly and it is very disheartening.

Many talk of how resilient the trees are, but the fact is that they are being over harvested (cutting/tapping) and the trees are subsequently dying at alarming rates.

 

“Current management of Boswellia populations is clearly unsustainable. Our models show that within 50 years populations of Boswellia will be decimated, and the declining populations mean frankincense production is doomed. This is a rather alarming message for the incense industry and conservation organisations “(6).

 

This is devastating, and at a time where so many are advocating to use it for, well just about anything.

Please follow the links below for more information as well as a video to see the issues firsthand, and be sure to lessen your use of the precious commodity.

Closing

It is important for everyone to work from where they are comfortable; this trumps everything else. It is equally important to understand the big picture, the facts, so that you can make educated decisions for yourself and your family. One of the many beautiful things about aromatherapy is the myriad of essential oil choices that you have to aid in your families holistic health plan.

 

References:

(1) Tisserand, R., Young, R. (2014) Essential Oil Safety (2nd Ed) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone

(2) Tisserand Institute Safety Infographics. Retrieved from the Tisserand Institute

(3)Tisserand, R., Young, R. (2014) Essential Oil Safety (2nd Ed) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone (p 273)

(4) Webb, M. (2015) Aromatic Medicine, Integrated Advanced Essential Oil Therapeutics for Common Clinical Conditions (p 88-89)

(5) Tisserand Institute Safety Infographics. Retrieved from the Tisserand Institute

(6) Frankincense production ‘doomed’ warn ecologists. Retrieved from   https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-12/w-fp121911.php

Frankincense video  “Tears of the Frankincense Forests”

 

 

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

Homemade Sunscreen Concerns and Myths

 

You will not be hard pressed to find do it yourself (DIY) articles on the Internet to make your own sunscreen. DIY sunscreen formulation is not for everyone. There are a number of factors involved that requires a cosmetic formulating background in addition to very specific equipment. There are also “natural” products on the market that are claimed to have SPF protection, with only mere anecdotal evidence at best to back up those claims. I hope to clear up these issues and help to show that perhaps sunscreen should be left to the professionals.

Zinc Oxide

Nanoparticles should be avoided in sunscreen. The reason for this is that the nanoparticles in zinc oxide break down in the presence of UVA rays and generate free radicals (1). The latest and greatest in sunscreen is the use of non-nano zinc oxide. These zinc particles sit on the outermost layer of your skin, the stratum corneum, absorb and reflect ultraviolet rays, protects your skin, all without the generation of free radicals.

Non-nano zinc oxide DIY recipes are all over the Internet. Many however are missing a very important key point, the DIY portion of how to properly disperse your dry ingredients fully into the liquid ingredients. To do this effectively and fully, you need what is called a high sheer mixer and a lot of knowledge. Without it you will not be able to accomplish even distribution of the zinc oxide in your sunscreen. What does this mean? Your sunscreen will have “holes”, allowing UVA and UVB rays to penetrate your skin, making it ineffective.

Let’s look at that concept a little bit further.

Measuring the viscosity and looking at particle size will not tell you about how your sunscreen will behave on the skin when it is applied, for this you need to examine the rheology of your product. Rheology is the study of the flow of liquids and crèmes; essentially the consistency and ease of spreadability (2).

If you are not properly and thoroughly mixing your sunscreen with the high sheer mixer, and the rheology or spreadability is not consistent, the thickness will not be consistent, this is where the holes in you sunscreen come into play.

You could send your sunscreen in for testing (mandatory when selling out in the marketplace), anticipating to have an SPF of 30 based on your ingredients, to learn that it only has an SPF of 10, and with holes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a sunscreen testing labs only rub the products gently into the skin. The more vigorous rubbing that we typically do when applying sunscreen to ourselves and children results in a thinner application and an even more unreliable SPF protection factor .

Supplies

In addition to the high sheer mixer, there are numerous other pieces of equipment that are needed. When working with zinc oxide, you need to be sure to have a particulate filter respirator. There are dangers to inhaling the particulates of zinc oxide (3). Hot plates, proper thermometers and other miscellaneous safety gear are necessary. The cost of all of this equipment is not for the faint at heart.

To reiterate, it is not enough to use a simple mixer or immersion blender to properly make your own DIY sunscreen using zinc oxide.

SPF Myths

Carrot Seed Essential Oil

Often times carrot seed oil and carrot seed essential oil are confused.

Carrot seed essential oil is extracted from the seeds of Daucus Carota through steam distillation, labeled as carrot seed essential oil (volatile oil). Carrot seed oil is produced by pressing the oil from the seeds of the carrot plant, like you would produce other vegetable and seed oils, labeled as cold-pressed carrot seed oil or just carrot seed oil (non-volatile oil).

There is a myth that carrot seed essential oil carries an SPF of 40, but this is not accurate. Volatile essential oils carry an SPF of approximately 1-7, respectively. Non-volatile oils carry an SPF of approximately 2-8, respectively (4).

The product that was analyzed that perpetuated the carrot seed essential oil myth actually contains zinc, therefore the product has an accumulated SPF of 40 (5).

Red Raspberry Seed Oil

A study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry claimed that raspberry seed oil has an SPF of 28-50. The study makes the following bold claim: “The optical transmission of raspberry seed oil, especially in the UV range (290±400 nm) was comparable to that of titanium dioxide preparations with sun protection factor for UVB (SPF) and protection factor for UV–A (PFA) values between 28-50 and 6.75-7.5, respectively (Kobo Products Inc., South Plainfield, NJ)”(6).

The study however, points to no reference of proof of this large range (28-50) of SPF protection. Please do not take this one statement as confirmation that raspberry seed oil has this level of SPF. Remember as I stated above, non-volatile oils carry an SPF of approximately 2-8, respectively. This is likely the accurate SPF protection factor in this case.

Benefit VS Risk

When looking at the challenges that are presented with getting zinc oxide to stay properly and evenly disbursed, you can see that the risk is too great to have an ineffective DIY product. Essential oils as well as carrier oils do not in themselves carry an adequate SPF protection.

Do to all of these issues, we at Plant Therapy do not recommend making your own sunscreen, but rather to purchase a non-nano zinc oxide based sunscreen for yourself and your family.

 

References

(1) Nanoparticles, free radicals and oxidative stress. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49580656_Nanoparticles_free_radicals_and_oxidative_stress

(2) Houlden, R. (2017) Viscosity Versus Rheology : What’s the difference and why it is important to the formulation chemist. Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists Conference 2017

(3) Zinc toxicology following particulate inhalation. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796768/

(4) In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

(5) Efficacy Study of Sunscreens Containing Various Herbs for Pro­tecting Skin from UVA and UVB Sunrays. Retrieved from: http://www.phcog.com/article.asp?issn=0973-1296;year=2009;volume=5;issue=19;spage=238;epage=248;aulast=Kapoor

(6) Characteristics of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) seed oil. Retrieved from: http://www.lotioncrafter.com/reference/oomah.pdf

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way to the Happy Mom-Releasing Mom Guilt

 

You know… you’re not failing.

I know you have felt that way many times. Did you plop your child in front of the television so you could get a moment to yourself? Let them play on electronics just a little bit longer so you could do something as simple as take a shower? Cook a frozen pizza so you could sit outside and read a magazine?

Dishes piled up in the sink?

Had to wash a load of laundry a couple times because you could not get to fold it before it was completely wrinkled?

Lost your temper because you had to ask your children to pick up their things a dozen times?

…..none of these things make you a failure as a mother.

A mother’s love for her children is championed as unconditional and all encompassing. But guess what, love is even difficult for mom’s. It requires self-control, selflessness, and incredible amounts of patience. It is a day-to-day commitment that we at times do not even offer ourselves. Why do you beat yourself up when you falter?

Motherhood is challenging as we are constantly being pulled in countless directions. We wear many hats, and juggle them all day long. There is no guilt in being exhausted after that.

Some guilt is showing us that our love for our children is infinite, and that is a beautiful thing. Beyond that you are only harming yourself. The goal is to separate the unproductive and unearned feelings of guilt from the kind that helps us improve.

What do I mean by this?

Did you forget an event at your child’s school? This may be a valid time for a little guilt, but take appropriate action by adding things to your calendar as soon as you know about them. Grow from the lesson that the feeling brings.

Left your child unhappy with a babysitter so that you could join a friend for dinner or go to that yoga class you have been missing out on? Let that guilt go! You need that time, and in the end everyone will be happier for it.

Hey mom’s guess what? Behind every great kid is a mom who is afraid she is messing it all up. We are all alike, we are all human….no one is exempt from these feelings and we all want to do the best we can….but I am here to tell you that you already are!

YES YOU ARE!

Mom A.K.A. “The Entertainer

Hear me when I say this, you do not need to entertain your children all day long. They thrive on special, quality time with you of course, but they need to learn to entertain themselves. They need time to do nothing. If you do not foster this at a young age you will find yourself with children that cannot entertain themselves…and you do not want that. All too often, children are micromanaged and over-scheduled. This leaves everyone unhappy.

In the end they will be much happier with time to themselves while you take the time that you need to treat yourself right. I am not talking about doing all of those things on your to do list such as having no dishes in the sink, or all of the laundry done. I mean do things that are just for you! Practice self-love!

 

Self-Care Mom Style

Make your Lists

I have recommended this exercise many times over the years with great results. Make a list of all the things you can think of that make you happy. Spend 15 minutes on this exercise. Do you like to read, paint, sing, dance, do yoga, spend time in nature, read a book, or take a bath? Make the list as thorough as you can. Begin incorporating one of these things into your life everyday. Be diligent in making the time.

Take a Bath

This blend is incredibly useful at the end of the day to relax and unwind.

Mix the following essential oils in a glass bottle:

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 20 drops
Ylang Ylang Canaga odorata 15 drops
Marjoram Origanum marjorana 10 drops
Neroli Citrus x aurantium 2 drops

Take 1-2 tsp fragrance free shampoo or Solubol and add 3-5 drops of your oil blend.

Mix to bath after water has been run.

(Optional 1 tbsp carrier oil such as jojoba)

Slide in and relax Mom. You deserve it!

*If you do not have access to a tub, this blend can also be used in a diffuser with great results.

Guided Imagery

Need to transport yourself somewhere but have no time to do it? Yep, sounds like every mom I know! Guided imagery or guided visualization is a great tool to use when you need to take your mind to a quiet, blissful sanctuary.

To utilize this great tool, get comfortable, preferably laying down, and begin to focus on your breath. Close your eyes and transport yourself to your favorite place. Take in all of the sights, smells, and sounds. Five to 10 minutes in your happy place will leave you both relaxed and energized. A great addition to this is your favorite blend. Here is one of mine!

Master Blend

WA Sandalwood Santalum spicatum 10 drops
Atlas Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica 6 drops
Sweet Orange Citrus sinesis 4 drops
Neroli Citrus aurantium 2 drops

Place drops in diffuser (as indicated on box instructions)

Affirmations

As a mom, we will all make mistakes, but how we bounce back from them is important. Rehashing mistakes over and over again is tiring. You cannot go back and change it, so you must move forward. Tell yourself you did your best, and keep going. I like using affirmations during times like this. You can pair it with an aromastick to help center you to be able to quickly move forward.

Here are a few examples:

 I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it is.

Just as the needs of my children matter, so do my own.

I am the exact parent my child needs and have no need to compare to others.

I am doing my best, and that will always be enough.

Confidence and calming aromastick

Sweet Orange Citrus sinesis 7 drops
Bergamot Citrus bergamia 5 drops
Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile 3 drops

Place these oils on the cotton wick of an inhaler, and insert into casing. Use as needed alongside your chosen affirmation.

 

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. – Robert Browning

 

There are going to be days when your cup runs over with joyful moments that brings tears to your eyes, and others that may make you want to run away….but one thing is for sure, you my dear are awesome! Don’t you forget it!

Happy Mother’s Day 

 

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phototoxic Reactions to Essential Oils

 

 

There are specific essential oils that cause what is called photosensitivity. There are two reactions associated with this, phototoxicity and photoallergy, which carry varying degrees of severity. These phenomena occur when essential oils, primarily cold-pressed or expressed citrus oils, are applied to the skin and then exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. Why does this happen? What are the signs? What are the risks? How can we avoid these reactions?

Photosensitivity, or sun sensitivity, is inflammation of the skin induced by the combination of sunlight and essential oils, particularly the chemical class of furanocoumarins (FCs). This causes redness (erythema) of the skin, much like sunburn. To be clear, both the essential oil and the UV light are required for this reaction to occur.

Phototoxic Essential Oils

As I mentioned earlier, there are very specific essential oils that carry these risks. There are also very specific safe percentages listed for topical use via scientific research that you can find on the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) website (1). Here are the topical limits for essential oils that have phototoxic potential:

Angelica Root Angelica archangelica 0.8%
Bergamot Citrus bergamia 0.4%  **(Plant Therapy‘s Bergamot is Bergapten free and is not phototoxic)
Bitter Orange (Cold/Expeller Pressed) Citrus aurantium 1.25%
Cumin Cuminum cyminum 0.4%
Grapefruit (expressed) Citrus paradisi 4.0%
Lemon (Cold/Expeller Pressed) Citrus limon 2.0%
Lime (Cold/Expeller Pressed) Citrus aurantifolia 0.7%
Mandarin Leaf Citrus reticulate 0.17%
Rue Ruta graveolens 0.15%
Taget Tagetes minuta 0.01%

If you are going to make product using these oils, it is important to consider weighing your oils of measuring by volume for accuracy. Understanding that this currently may not be an option for all of you, I will go over Lemon Citrus limon to show what 2.0% looks like.

5ml……3 drops lemon essential oil in carrier oil=2%
10ml……6 drops lemon essential oil in carrier oil=2%
15ml……9 drops lemon essential oil in carrier oil=2%

Drops sizes can vary and sometimes bottles pour a lot faster than we would like. I recommend using a pipette to measure out your drops for consistency. I have included in the references a couple of links to scales that may be of interest to you.

There are a few things to understand in regards to using a phototoxic oil on the skin.

#1-The reaction may not occur right away. It can occur within 36 to 72 hours later in the form of moderate to severe topical reactions, but the general advice is to avoid the sun or tanning bed for 12-18 hours after application of any of these oils.

#2-When you stay below the above percentages you greatly lower your risk, but there is still a potential to have a reaction, such as if you are taking a medication that increases the effects of the sun (see#3).

#3– Certain medications increase the effects of the sun. Specific drugs in the class of antibiotics, allergy medications, NSAID’s, anti-depressants, vitamin B3 (niacin) and even certain herbs such as St. John’s Wort just to name a few, increase the effects of the sun. If taking these medications, you may need to use extra precautions with any of these essential oils used topically.

#4-It is not just topical use you need to be concerned about. If you are taking any phototoxic essential oil internally you need to be concerned too. We know average time frames to avoid the sun or tanning bed for topical use, internal use is not as easy. You do not need to be concerned about diffusing or other means of inhalation.

#5– When used individually, formulating the math for your phototoxic essential oil can be calculated quite easily using the guideline above. If you are using more than one oil that has phototoxic potential, the total percentage of those oils in your formulation will need to be reduced (it is cumulative). The percentages need to be reduced so that the total amount of furanocoumarins in your blend is accounted for.

#6– It is stated that wash off products are less of a concern but you must consider how long the oils were left on the skin before washing off.

Phototoxic Reactions

In phototoxic reactions, the skin’s appearance resembles sunburn, and the reaction is generally acute. The onset is typically fast, but remember in some cases it can take 36-72 hours to see a reaction. The reactions can extend beyond the typical redness of sunburn to severe burning, hyper pigmentation changes, and painful blistering.

These phototoxic reactions do damage the DNA. In the absence of UV light, phototoxic chemicals do not cause this damage (2).

The phototoxic reaction usually resolves with peeling and sloughing off of the skin with a few days time. It will be imperative to care for your skin as you would any other wound to avoid or minimize scarring (no essential oils).

Photoallergic Reactions

Photoallergic reactions have an added dynamic. In addition to the symptoms in phototoxicity, hyper pigmentation includes post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (raised, inflamed darkened skin) of the skin accompanied by intense itching. This resembles eczema and can be much longer lasting. This is an allergic reaction so subsequent exposure can result in more severe reactions.

Closing

The good news is, when we know how to use essential oils safely we greatly reduce these risks. Be sure to be aware of what is in your blends as well as any product you are buying in the store. Always read your labels. Stay safe and enjoy the summer from all of us at Plant Therapy.

 

References:

(1) International Fragrance Association IFRA. Retrieved from: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/standards-library/s/phototoxicity#.V9VaSpMrJn4

(2) Phototoxic and Photoallergic Reactions. Retrieved from http://rihuc.huc.min-saude.pt/bitstream/10400.4/1340/1/Phototoxic.pdf

Scales

#1 American Weigh Scale

#2 Smart Weigh Premium Scale

 

Leslie Moldenauer, CHNC, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist, has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. Leslie is a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer.  She is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home.

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