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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.

 

Castile Soap DIY’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients: Saponified Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Saponified Organic Otea Europaea (Olive Oil), Saponified Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Rosemary Extract, Organic Aloe Vera.

 

Now that Plant Therapy has added Castile Soap to our line of products, I went in search of different ways to use it. To my surprise, there are hundreds of uses for it! While I am testing out and tweaking these recipes I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

 

Foaming Hand Soap

Here’s what you ‘ll need:

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Add the water to the foaming pump dispenser
  2. Add Castile Soap
  3. Add  Optiphen +
  4. Add essential oil
  5. Replace cap, shake well

 

Multi-Purpose Spray

What you’ll need:

  • 5 ounces water
  • 3 ounces white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Castile Soap
  • 1/2 teaspoon Polysorbate 20
  • 25-30 drops essential oil (I use Germ Destroyer or Germ Fighter in most batches )
  • Spray Bottle

What you’ll do:

  1.  Add all ingredients to the spray bottle and shake well.
  2. Spray and wipe.

 

Body Wash

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure all ingredients.
  2. Pour into bottle.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Store in your bathroom and use as you would a traditional body wash.

 

Fruit and Veggie Wash

What you’ll need:

A bowl of cool water (approximately 2 quarts)

5-6 drops Castile Soap

2 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Mix together and that’s it! There is no need to rinse your fruit and veggies, they are ready to go. If you are not using them right away, just drain and store in the fridge.

 

KidSafe Shampoo

What you’ll Need:

4 ounces Castile Soap

1 tablespoon Carrier Oil of choice

4 oz plastic bottle

18 drops of KidSafe Synergy or KidSafe Single Essential Oil of choice.  (Lavender, Tea Tree or Get “Em Gone are great options).

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure ingredients.
  2. Pour into bottle.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Store in your bathroom and use as you would a traditional body wash.

 

Bubbling Bath Salts

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

  1. Measure Epsom salt, pour into medium bowl and set aside
  2. Measure 1 TBSP coconut oil, into small dish or beaker, set aside
  3. Measure 2 mL essential oil with graduated cylinder {or drop 40-45 drops}. Pour into coconut oil
  4. Measure body wash
  5. Add carrier/essential oils mixture to the body wash, stirring well. Mixture will turn opaque and thicken slightly as you stir
  6. Add carrier/essential oil/body wash mixture to Epsom salt
  7. Stir well
  8. Package in a container of your choice, but do be sure it’s airtight!

To use, run about 1/4 cup under your warm water as you fill the tub. This is the perfect way to send yourself or your little one, or yourself, off to bed all calm and snuggly!

 

Plant Therapy’s Castile Soap is unscented making it safe for kids and adults alike to use for effective and safe cleaning. This soap is perfect for hand, body, and face washing, as well as for dishes, mopping, and other household chores. This green, nontoxic soap base is perfect because of its many, many uses. We will be sharing more of these many uses with you soon!

 

How do you like to use Castile Soap?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

My Top Three Oils for Whole Being Balance

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Recently, we discussed the practice of holistic care in “What Does Holistic Have to Do with Our Health.” Essentially, we are caring for mind, body and spirit to bring balance to our whole being for a greater state of wellbeing.

You may recall from “Food for Thought, that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. Depending on our state of mind, our body and spirit are impacted in chemical messages from the brain created by stress. This distress of the mind, especially over the long-term, can lead to dis-ease due to our body’s inability to compensate and re-balance.

Aromatherapy, in particular, the practice of holistic aromatherapy, is the perfect partner for helping to support harmony on all three levels of our existence. When we can find balance within ourselves and our environment,  we can experience a greater sense of optimal wellbeing.

Each essential oil and extract has its own therapeutic profile and value, often with multiple core applications.

And, often, we blend synergies from a selection of essential oils to create the holistic profile we are seeking as we did to accompany self-balancing activities outlined in Balancing Our Whole Being.”

There are, however, some essential oils and extracts that are just excellent at equally supporting and entire being.

I find myself reaching over and again for three in particular when I want well-rounded and robust support to bring my being back into balance.

The three I love the most for holistic use are: Bergamot, Fragonia and Blue Yarrow. Oh my goodness, do I love the gifts of these oils.

On their own, they are wonderful to bring equilibrium to mind, body and spirit. Mixed in other synergies, they enhance the holistic value. In my opinion, blended together, they create something extraordinary.

Below, you will find why I consider these my top three essences as my very favorites for holistic support on all three levels — mind, body and spirit.

In addition, I have included one of my very favorite blends with the added benefit of a soothing bath. I find this one of the best ways to find balance from within for my whole being.

As always, I  encourage you to consider options that match your own unique needs.

 

Bergamot Citrus bergamia  (bergapten free)

Bergamot is a favorite for its array of uses and its sunny scent. Bergamot is an incredibly uplifting, calming and balancing essential oil.

It is especially helpful when you feel off balance due to nervous tension and when you need to invite in more positive thinking and energy.

Mind:  Balancing to emotions. Uplifting and calming.  Promotes positive thinking while helping to release negative emotions.

Body: Supports the body in returning to a state of relaxation. Soothes the nervous system and smooths nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit: Helps to harmonize the spirit, especially when affected by strong, negative emotions. Supports the ability to receive positive energy and helps our natural energy to flow smoothly.

 

 

Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

Fragonia is highly valued for its uniquely balanced composition. It, too, has a wide array of core therapeutic uses and has a soft, refreshing scent.

It is especially helpful for letting go of old emotional thought patterns and negative energy blocks that are impacting your balance and wellbeing.

Mind:  Helps to release old emotional patterns. Calming and uplifting, it helps to reduce worry and nervous tension.

Body:  Balancing to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving to nervous tension creating discomfort in the body.

Spirit:  Helps to release deep-seated blocks in the energy flow caused by old wounds. Strengthening to the spirit.

 

 

Blue Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Blue yarrow has been prized throughout time for its ability to support wounds on all levels. Though it provides powerful support, it is gentle in nature.

Its “blue” constituents are especially helpful to bring a cooling sense of balance to  heated conditions of mind, body and spirit.

Mind:  Supports emotional equilibrium. Helps to calm worry and nervous tension.

Body: Calming to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving for nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit:  Powerful support in releasing blocks created by repressed strong, negative emotions. Helps to support a smooth natural energy flow. Balanced between opposing energies, it helps to equalize these energies in our own being.

 

Balancing Bath Blend

2 drops Bergamot  Citrus bergamia

2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

1 drop Blue Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Mix with 2 T natural, unscented body wash

Add 1/2 c of Epsom Salts and mix.

Add to your warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Bringing the best of the abilities from my top three oils for whole being balance. This is an especially wonderful immersion experience before bedtime. 

 


Sources:

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. New York: Fall River, 2014. Print.

Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 2005. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending . Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

DIY Perfume

 

Essential Oils are used for practical purposes, but from time to time it is nice to be able to use them to make us feel good and smell good. Below are 3 recipes that Plant Therapy’s Certified Aromatherapists really enjoy. And for those of you who took advantage of Plant Therapy’s Day 5  Sale and received the perfume bottle as a free gift, you will love adding these to your recipe file.

 

Woodland Blooms

3 drops Mandarin Citrus reticulata

2 drops Cedarwood Himalayan Cedrus deodara

1 drop Jasmine Absolute Jasminum sambac

6 drops Polysorbate 20

Blend with 10 ml (1/3 oz) of witch hazel or alcohol such as vodka or rum.

 

Peaceful Spring

2 drops Sandalwood Australian Santalum spicatum

2 drops Neroli Citrus x aurantium

2 drops Bergamot Citrus bergamia

6 drops Polysorbate 20

Blend with 10 ml (1/3 oz) of witch hazel or alcohol such as vodka or rum.

 

Vanilla Orange Blossoms

3 drops Orange Blood Citrus sinensis

2 drops Vanilla Oleoresin Vanilla planifolia

1 drop Ylang Ylang Complete Cananga odorata

6 drops Polysorbate 20

Blend with 10 ml (1/3 oz) of witch hazel or alcohol such as vodka or rum.

 

The Philippines – In Search of Essential Oils

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines. It was an incredible experience, where I learned just how hospitable and kind the Filipino people really are. This was a trip that I was especially excited about because my mother has been serving a religious mission helping people with self reliance in Quezon City for the past 16 months and I hadn’t seen her during that time. She met me at the airport and accompanied me on my travels for the next two weeks.

A long flight seems longer when you are excited to see someone!

 

Finally here!

 

I arrived late at night and got around 4 hours sleep before heading back to the airport to catch our flight to Bacolod. We made the short drive to Bago City where we met the owner and founder of an herbal supplements company. They have recently moved into distilling essential oils and we wanted to see their process and facility. We experienced the freshly distilled local citrus fruits of Calamansi and Dalandan. They had also distilled some Elemi and Organic Eucalyptus.

Visiting a company that distills and checking out their essential oils. Quality always…

 

After a productive visit in Bago City, we drove across town to visit Auke, the founder of a 12-year-old lemongrass co-op called AID Foundation. They have a great vision of helping those in need, which is perfectly in line with ours at Plant Therapy. Many of the people of this region are very poor with limited means to produce income. Many only have access to two resources… time and land. AID Foundation employs agronomists that will go into these rural communities and teach the local people farming techniques and help them set up an operation where they can earn a living.

No, this is a not a blood bank above… It is a supply  of essential oils.  The bottom picture is of a still.  For some communities this is the key to their livelihood.

 

These are the specifics of a small lemongrass operation… They require roughly 25-30 families to participate if they want to have their own still. They will help the community get water using a ram pump- this is an incredible invention that can pump water uphill without the use of electricity. Once water is available they will plant 20,000 lemongrass plants on a hectare of ground- just under 2.5 acres. They can harvest the lemongrass plant every two months. It can be cut low and it will just continue to grow. The cut grass is then left to dry for two days before being placed in the still. 180 kg (400 lbs) of dry material is placed in the still and steamed for 3 hours. This will produce one kg (2.2 lbs) of pure lemongrass essential oil. The oil is then put into a one liter bottle and labeled with the farmer’s name, location, date, and batch number. The spent leaves are put into compost boxes and later returned to the farms as fertilizer. This is the only adjuvant that is added to lemongrass farms. Every few years they will rotate out the crop to grow some root crops like Ginger or Turmeric. The farmer’s all own the distillation equipment and get paid a certain amount of money for each batch of oil that is produced. The AID foundation then sells the lemongrass oil and uses any profits to help another community get set up. I love their mission, values, product and facilities. Unfortunately, we aren’t currently buying products from them because their prices are too high. It doesn’t make sense for them to lower them to the bulk market prices because that would defeat the whole purpose of the co-op, which is to help the farmers. In addition, we batch test every oil and it would be cost prohibitive to test the oil from every 2.2 lb batch. We are working on some ideas that will allow us to work these small artisan distilleries, so that is something I am excited about in Plant Therapy’s future.

Some beautiful Lemongrass fields handled with love and care.

 

The following morning, we flew out to Cagayan de Oro. We spent two days visiting small farms and a distillery there. Many of these rural farmers are living on less than $1 per meal for their family of 6-7. They are primarily eating rice. In fact, it appears that most Filipino people love their rice, consuming it 3 times per day. We ate it multiple times per day, every day of the trip. If you were to visit a KFC or McDonalds there you are going to be served rice. I was also told that if they don’t eat some rice, many don’t consider it an actual meal. One can eat pizza or a sandwich, etc. but without rice, it is just considered a “snack”.

We visited an oil distiller in Sitio Danao.

 

Most of these farmers are also part of a co-op using only organic farming methods. The farms are sprayed with neem oil (native to the Philippines), molasses, and beneficial fungi. When the crops are harvested, they are sold to the co-op which pays them on a per-pound basis.

Another precious yield of the Phillipines.

 

When we returned to Manila we were able to visit with some suppliers of both Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as well as Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO). Plant Therapy is in a unique position within the FCO market. As you may or may not be aware, the vast majority of products being sold as FCO in the retail market are not made from coconuts at all. It is actually a palm oil that, when processed, resembles FCO. Even though most people can’t tell the difference, we will not sell something as coconut oil unless we are absolutely certain it is actually coconut oil. For that reason, we require proof from our suppliers that it is 100% coconut oil. We are the only company, that I am aware of, with that requirement.

Meeting with some of our suppliers of our wonderful Coconut Oil. We are one company that requires proof that our Coconut products are 100% coconut.

 

The Philippines is an incredibly beautiful country. During my time there we were also able to do many “touristy” type things. Including the following: Dahilayan Adventure Park, whitewater rafting, Zoobic Safari, American Cemetery, WWII battle sites, Underground River, a crocodile farm, weaving factory, Honda Bay tour, Starfish Island, Luli Island, Cowrie Island, Pagsanjan Falls, Taal Volcano, and Art in Island. It is a place I would love to visit again in the future to continue the pursuit of charitable and business opportunities there.

Taking time to play with Mom!

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.

June Oil of the Month – Lemon Myrtle

An essential oil that is as lemony, if not more than Lemon? How can that be? Lemon Myrtle is incredibly lemony. Australians love Lemon Myrtle for many reasons and are very familiar with it. The leaves of this plant are dried and ground up for a spice and used in many delectable dishes. The leaves are also used in something interesting called “Bush Tucker”. Bush tucker or bushfood is various food that is native to Australia and is used by the original inhabitants for culinary and medical reasons, and also for sustenance.

Lemon Myrtle plant also packs a punch. The Rideal-Walker test estimates the antimicrobial activity of plants. The higher the score, the more effective the plant. According to this test, it scored Lemon Myrtle plant a 16, Tea Tree plant an 11, and Eucalyptus Citriodora plant an 8. Again, this speaks of the plant itself. We will be presenting the essential oil, which is highly concentrated and powerful.

Lemon Myrtle Essential Oil (Backhousia Citriodora) is an elevating beautiful scent that is no shrinking violet. It has some amazing properties. Even in small amounts, it is still a force to be reckoned with. It is great for deodorizing and cleaning DIYs, to battle occasional seasonal threats and to freshen a room. It can be helpful for conditions that can develop when feet are moist and warm too often. It also has been shown to be helpful in relaxing and uplifting. When diffusing, use just a small amount, as a little goes a long way. Due to its high citral content, we recommend a low dilution of under 0.7%.

Some essential oils that would go well with Lemon Myrtle are; Cedarwood Virginian, Sandalwood Australian, Fragonia, and Blue Cypress.

Here is a diffuser recipe to help you become acquainted with this lovely, fresh essential oil.

 

Diffuser Blend   – This is good for respiratory and is uplifting.  Of course this is just an example for an ultrasonic diffuser and you can modify to your liking and to your diffuser. This is not a KidsSafe® blend.

2 drop Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)

4 drops Cedarwood Virginian (Juniperus virginiana)

2 drops Fragonia (Taxandria fragrans)

 

Download Product Template Sheet Here

 

Reflections of a Summer Lover

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Oh happy days are here!

I am a child of summer.  And, my inner child remains happiest in the season of the sun. This I have learned about myself.

Summer is when my spirit feels most buoyant and unbound. Joy is easier to access as it readily bubbles to the surface.

If winter is the hibernal season, and spring is of renewal, for me summer is a  season of sustenance.

Our mind, body and spirits are nourished by the abundance of sunshine and daylight, the refreshing array fresh fruit and vegetables, the heady scent of summer blooms, and the frequency of the dazzling dragonflies. For many, these beautiful, blessed dragonflies — whose magical beauty shimmers under the summer sun —  represent and remind us of the ability to reflect light for the greater good.

I arrived in this world as a native to perpetually sunny Southern California. Though I was born in December, it was as summer-like, bright, 85-degree-day.

Reflecting back, I realize my spirit has always sought the sun  ever since  to find and create summer for my soul wherever I happen to be.

As a child in Southern California there was joyful abandon playing outdoors and walking barefoot in the grass, especially with the heady scent of the orange groves at the end of our street.

Later, I lived by the beach there and spent every summer day of my teen-age years barefoot in the sand and jumping through the waves.

To this day, I prefer my feet unbound to feel more grounded. If I am not barefoot, then flip flops are the footwear of choice. From my perspective, you cannot have too many pairs.

In my early adulthood, I moved to the Midwest for work. That’s when I quickly realized I needed sunlight and warmth to feel vital and nourished. What I had taken for granted, now needed to be recreated. If it was going to take awhile for summer to come to me where I was, then I needed to go in search of  summer.

Winters breaks became tropical getaways to the Caribbean where the season of the sun was only a flight away.  Immediately upon arrival, my whole being was transported by the soft air, shimmering waters, and the sun in the sky. Not only did my body thaw, but any tension I carried immediately melted away.  Breathing in the sea breeze allowed me to clear the clutter in my head, returning back to real life with a sense of renewed clarity.

Later, I moved to New England with shorter winters, but also shorter summers. This meant ensuring that I savored every drop of summer while it was in season. I joined the tradition of spending idyllic long weekends on Cape Cod. Crossing that bridge from the mainland marked the point where I was able to let go of the go-go-go and relax into loafing.

Now, I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Another west coast for sunsets on the sea and walks on the beach framed by turquoise water and white sugar sand.  And, though actual summer  is a swelter, but most of the rest of the year we live in season as if it  is part of our daily life.  My challenge here is taking the time from daily life to enjoy living in paradise.

No matter where you live, and what your experience, you can always create your own summer for the spirit. Aromatherapy offers a natural opportunity to help create that buoyant and relaxed state of mind.   Even when you can’t break away to chase the sun, a sniff of the synergies evoking the sense of summer can transport you instantly to to a mini-break in your own mind’s eye.

For me, the sensory experiences of the summer season call for a switch to scents that are fresher and cooling  such as citrus and mints.

To help you get started, or to inspire you to create your own experiences, I offer below some summer loving synergies curated from my own collection to evoke favorite seasonal memories.

These were created for inhalation purposes to most readily connect with the mind and spirit. I prefer to make these in a personal inhaler to have with me when needed. You may also choose to use your diffuser, with the exception of the Beach Rose synergy because the rose otto 10% is diluted in vegetable oil, which can damage the unit.

 

I wish you an abundance of sun in your spirit!

 

Inner Child

This uplifting and cheerful blend helps restore my joy of the simple life on a sunny day during my childhood in Southern California.

2 drops Grapefruit Pink, Citrus x paradisi

2 drops Mandarin, Citrus reticulata

1 drop Spearmint, Mentha spicata

 

Mental Mojito

This refreshing and revitalizing scent helps when I need that sense of clear -headed clarity created after a Caribbean Vacation. 

3 drops Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

2 drops Peppermint,  Mentha x piperita

 

Beach Rose  

This soothing scent is evocative of the slow days, sand dunes, and snow cones of Cape Cod where I crossed the bridge into a state of contentment and relaxation.

2 drops Rose Otto (Diluted at 10%)  Rosa damascena 

2 drops Sandalwood Australian, Santalum spicatum

1 drop BergamotCitrus bergamia

 

Sangria Siesta 

(for Inhalation)

This deeply relaxing and uplifting synergy is reflective of the lazy days of a Florida summer calling for loafing on the lanai for rest and reflection.

2 drops Davana, Artemisia pallens

1 drop Lemon, Citrus x limon

1 drop Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

1 drop Orange SweetCitrus sinensis

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