February 29, 2012

Essential Oils 202: Some Basic Blends

As I've looked around at essential oils and popular blends, I've noted which oils are in what types of blends, so you can recreate your own.

Breathe Easy:  Eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary

Theives: (based on 5 theives during black plague surviving with this cleansing blend: highly anti-infectious, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic) cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary

Deep Blue: (Sore muscles) wintergreen, peppermint, etc.

Headaches: lavendar, peppermint, wintergreen, basil, rosemary

Purify: (bugbigs or air) lemon, lime, teatree

Outdoor bugs: lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, etc.

Which Oils for Baby: (over two years old) lavendar, lemon, bergamot, chamomiles, tangerine/mandarin

Which oils for Pregnancy: lavendar, flowery ones, citruses, frankinsence, spearmint

February 27, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads - March 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
*please leave your comment and thoughts about the book--or movies based on the book

Herbs to Help Tummy Troubles

Taken from an article in Mother Earth News

Is your belly upset? Indigestion?
Here are some herbs that may help your tummy troubles....

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Commission E, the German group of scientists that makes recommendations on herbal safety and effectiveness, considers chamomile effective for relieving many gastrointestinal complaints, including indigestion. Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine, says the best home remedies for an upset stomach are chamomile and peppermint tea. I prefer peppermint, but both are effective and easy to grow in your garden.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Most herbalists, myself included, have a special regard for peppermints ability to relieve indigestion. I've needed peppermint more often since 1990, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave me a bad case of indigestion by ruling that peppermint is ineffective for stomach distress. This does not mean peppermint is useless: It means the FDA's evaluation was.
Commission E endorses peppermint tea for treating indigestion. Given a choice between an FDA pronouncement and a Commission E endorsement, I'd go for the German decision. Those folks did some research and seem to know what they're talking about.
Peppermint tea works well, but being a native son of Alabama, I'm also partial to mint juleps (bourbon, spring water, sugar and mint), which, it turns out, work even better. Varro Tyler, dean and professor emeritus of pharmacognosy (natural product pharmacy) at Purdue University, notes that most of the carminative oils in peppermint and other mints are relatively insoluble in water. As a result, mint tea doesn't contain much of the plant's stomach-soothing constituents. It does contain enough to make it effective, but a peppermint tincture, which is made with alcohol, contains more. So if you don't want to drink a julep, you can use a tincture instead. Angelic (Angelica archangelica). Angelica root is good for treating indigestion, mild stomach cramps and lack of appetite, according to Commission E. The suggested daily dose is a tea made with 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water, or up to 1 teaspoon of tincture.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger's benefits for motion sickness and nausea have been amply proven, so it should come as no surprise that Commission E approves taking 2 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of ginger in tea for indigestion. Ginger contains certain chemicals that not only soothe the gut but also aid digestion by increasing the wavelike muscle contractions (peristalsis) that move food through the intestine. As noted in my new medicinal spice book, ginger, cinnamon, hot pepper and turmeric are just a few of the spices that can settle a distressed stomach.

Marjoram (Origanum onites)
The British munch on marjoram sandwiches to treat indigestion and use diluted marjoram tea to relieve colic in infants. Marjoram is an aromatic mint, so it has digestion-soothing benefits that are similar to peppermint's.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
No wonder coriander helps soothe indigestion: Its essential oils are carminative, antiseptic, bactericidal, fungicidal and a muscle relaxant. Traditional herbalists valued coriander, especially to counteract the stomach-upsetting properties of laxative herbs such as buckthorn, cascara, rhubarb and senna. In the Amazon, wild coriander (Eryngium foetidum), with nearly the same chemistry, is added to their daily bean ration, perhaps to alleviate the flatulence the beans could generate.

Papaya (Carica papaya) and pineapple (Ananas comosus)
Both of these fruits contain enzymes that break down protein, called proteolytics. Naturopaths and people who advocate juicing liar health maintain that papaya and pineapple juice are good for relieving indigestion. If they're right, you should also get benefits from eating other fruits that contain proteolytic enzymes, such as kiwifruit or some figs, after meals. If I had chronic indigestion, I might have these fruits for dessert more often.

Red pepper (Capsicum, various species)
Americans often believe that hot spices upset the stomach. But much of the rest of the world knows better—that hot spices like red pepper help soothe it. Red pepper also stimulates digestion.

Assorted carminative herbs
Carminative medicine prevents the formation of gas in the alimentary tract or eases its passing. If anything, there are too many herbal ca carminatives. In my database, I have more than 500 carminative entries, including all of the plants already- mentioned. Most are supported by at least some research. Also included are agrimony, allspice, apples, hasil, bay, bee balm, buckwheat, burdock, caraway, cardamom, catnip, celery, chervil, chives, cloves, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, horehound, hyssop, lemon balm (also known as melissa). lemon-grass, lovage, nutmeg, onions, oregano, parsley, parsnips, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla and yarrow. Feel free to try any of these herbs to relieve indigestion.

Assorted essential oils
Aromatherapists often recommend a few whiffs of a number of different carminative oils to settle a troubled tummy, including aniseed, basil, bergamot, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, garlic, ginger, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, onion, peppermint, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme. Do not ingest these oils pure, as the undiluted Oil can he fatal even in small doses. They are only meant to be used externally or drastically diluted.

February 8, 2012

Essential Oils 301: Chemical Properties

In general, pure essential oils can be subdivided into two distinct groups of chemical constituents; the hydrocarbons which are made up almost exclusively of terpenes (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes), and the oxygenated compounds which ar mainly esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides.   (find more info like this in Advanced Armoatherapy Book by Kurt Schnaubelt)

These charts show the properties for the chemical components of essential oils and the next chart shows which oils belong in which area. Super cool to visualize where the oils fit.

Terpenes - inhibit the accumulation of toxins and help discharge existing toxins from the liver and kidneys.
  • Sesquiterpenes are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. They work as a liver and gland stimulant and contain caryophyllene and valencene. Research from the universities of Berlin and Vienna show increased oxygenation around the pineal and pituitary glands. Further research has shown that sesquiterpenes have the ability to surpass the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain tissue. other sesquiterpenes, like chamazulene and farnesol, are very high in anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity. Chamazulene may be found in chamomile, tansy, and yarrow.
  • Farnesene is anti-viral in action.
  • Limonene has strong anti-viral properties and has been found in 90% of the citrus oils.
  • Pinene has strong antiseptic properties and may be found in high proportions in the conifer oils such as pine, fir, spruce, and juniper.
  • Other terpenes include camphene, cadinene, cedrene, dipentene, phellandrene, terpinene, sabinene, and myrcene.

Esters - are the compounds resulting from the reaction of an alcohol with an acid (known as esterification). Esters are very common and are found in a large number of essential oils. They are anti-fungal, calming and relaxing.
  • Linalyl acetate may be found in bergamot, Clary sage, and lavender
  • Geraniol acetate may be found in sweet marjoram.
  • Other esters include bornyl acetate, eugenol acetate, and lavendulyl acetate.

Aldehydes - are highly reactive and characterized by the group C-H-O (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen). In general, they are anti-infectious with a sedative effect on the central nervous system. They can be quite irritating when applied topically (citral being one example), but may have a profound calming effect when inhaled.
  • Citral is very common with a distinctive antiseptic action. It also has an anti-viral application as with melissa oil when applied topically on herpes simplex.
  • Citronellal is also very common and has the same lemony scent as citral. Along with citral and neral, citronellas may be found in the oils of melissa, lemongrass, lemon, mandarin, lemon-scented eucalyptus, and citronella.
  • Elements of aldehydes have also been found in lavender and myrrh. Other aldehydes include benzaldehyde, cinnamic aldehyde, cuminic aldehyde, and perillaldehyde.

Ketones - are sometimes mucolytic and neuro-toxic when isolated from other constituents. However, all recorded toxic effects come from laboratory testing on guinea pigs and rats. No documented cases exist where oils with a high concentration of ketones (such as mugwort, tansy, sage, and wormwood) have ever caused a toxic effect on a human being. Also, large amounts of these oils would have to be consumed for them to result in a toxic neurological effect. Ketones stimulate cell regeneration, promote the formation of tissue, and liquefy mucous. They are helpful with such conditions as dry asthma, colds, flu and dry cough and are largely found in oils used for the upper respiratory system, such as hyssop, Clary sage, and sage.
  • Thujone is one of the most toxic members of the ketone family. It can be an irritant and upsetting to the central nervous system and mey be neuro-toxic when taken internally as in the banned drink Absinthe. Although it may be inhaled to relieve respiratory distress and my stimulate the immune system, it should only be administered by an educated and professional aromatherapist.
  • Jasmone (found in jasmine) and fenchone (found in fennel) are both non-toxic.
  • Other ketones include camphor, carvone, menthone, methyl nonyl ketone, and pinacamphone.

Alcohols - are commonly recognized for their antiseptic and anti-viral activities. They create an uplifting quality and are regarded as non-toxic.
1. Terpene Alcohols stimulate the immune system, work as a diuretic and a general tonic, and are anti-bacterial as well.
  • Linalol can help relieve discomfort. It may be found in rosewood and lavender.
  • Citronellol may be found in rose, lemon, eucalyptus, geranium, and others.
  • Geraniol may be found in geranium as well as palmarosa.
  • Farnesol may be found in chamommile. It is also good for the mucous.
  • Other terpene alcohols include borneol, menthol, nerol, terpineol, (which Dr. Gattefosse considered to be a decongestant), vetiverol, benzyl alcohol, and cedrol.
2. Sesquiterpene Alcohols are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-mycotic, and ulcer-protective (preventative).
  • Bisabolol is one of the the strongest sesquiterpene alcohols. It may be found in chamomile oils where it also functions well as a fixative.

Phenols - are responsible for the fragrance of an oil. They are antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and strongly stimulating but can also be quite caustic to the skin. They contain high levels of oxygenating molecules and have antioxidant properties.
  • Eugenol may be found in clove and cinnamon oil.
  • Thymol is found in thyme and may not be as caustic as other phenols.
  • Carvacrol may be found in oregano and savory. Researchers believe it may possibly contain some anti-cancerous properties.
  • Others in the phenol family include methyl eugenol, methyl chavicol anethole, safrole, myristicin, and apiol.

Oxides - According to The American Heritage™ Dictionary of the English Language, an oxide is "a binary compound of an element or a radical with oxygen".
  • Cineol (or eucalyptol) is by far the most important member of the family and virtually exists in a class of its own. It is anesthetic, antiseptic, and works as an expectorant. Cineol is well known as the principal constituent of eucalyptus oil. It may also be found in rosemary, cinnamon, melissa, basil, and ravensara.
  • Other oxides include linalol oxide, ascaridol, bisabolol oxide, and bisabolone oxide.

All pure essential oils have some anti-bacterial properties. They increase the production of white blood cells, which help fight infectious illnesses. It is through these properties that aromatic herbs have been esteemed so highly throughout the ages and so widely used during the onsets of malaria, typhoid, and of course, the epidemic plagues during the 16th century.

Research has found that people who consistently use pure essential oils have a higher level of resistance to illnesses, colds, flues, and diseases than the average person. Further indications show that such individuals, after contracting a cold, flu, or other illness, will recover 60-70 percent faster than those who do not use essential oils.


February 6, 2012

Iridology: What Your Eyes Say About Your Body's Health

Here is a chart that maps your eye with your body. Find your dark/fuzzy spots....mine corresponds to the stomach/digestive health issues I have because I have a huge fuzzy dark circle around the blue color ring around the pupil (intestines area on map).


Basically if you can change your diet to be more real whole foods (instead of sugary, processed foods and such, then that can help all sorts of the areas of nutritional deficiency--since so many overlap.)
It's important to be honest about your health and to take one step at a time in a balanced approach.

Nutrition is one step. But physical exercise, positive mental attitude, spirituality, setting goals to become who you desire to be, and many other areas play a role in your overall health.

Find one way to start improving your health and seek guidance in other ways as you go--one step at a time.

See our nutrition blog for healthy food info, substitutions and recipes.
And check out our posts on how to start eating well:
1. Guidelines to Eating Well
2. List of how to eat better
3. Good, Better, Best (and Avoid) List

February 2, 2012

Ladies' Goodreads 2012: February

North & South
Elizabeth Gaskill

When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.


Feel free to comment on the book and your thoughts, or even the movie. It's great (but I think it's 4 hours).