Monthly Archives: November 2009

ESSENTIAL OIL & SCENT HISTORY part 4

During the 16:th to 18:th centuries the art of distilling plants had grown to become an every-day matter. Every mansion had its own distillery and the pharmacies of the time distilled essential oils for medicinal purposes. The doctor would make out a recipe, and the pharmacies would blend the medicines.

In this time herbal medicine grew immensely with the founding of the Royal Society in Britain, the plant classifications by Linnaeus and the great herbals by, amongst others, Culpeper, Gerard and Parkinson. By the end of the 18:th century, essential oils were widely used in medicine alongside herbs, essential oils being the strongest form of medicine in existence.

The late 19:th and early 20:th century saw the flourishing of chemistry as a discipline. As plant cures and essential oils could be synthesized in a laboratory – the cures both stronger and faster in action, essential oils began to lose their place in the pharmacopoeiae.

In the early 1900’s a French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé – the father of aromatherapy, rediscovered the effectiveness of essential oils when he after a severe burn dipped his hand in pure lavender-oil and noted the speed of recovery; the pain was instantly subdued, there was no infection nor scarring. This made him devote himself to the study of esssential oils. He discovered that the oils could penetrate the skin to access the blood-stream and chemically interact with the chemistry of the body. In 1937 he published the book “L’aromathérapie” that became the first textbook on essential oils.

Dr. Jean Valnet followed in Gattefossé’s footsteps. He was an army-doctor during WW2. As antibiotics were hard to come by in wartime, he used essential oils with great success. After the war he opened a clinic where he success-fully used essential oils for both physical and psychological healing. Much of his work was based on the antiseptic properties of essential oils. In 1964 Dr Valnet published a book; “Aromathérapie se soigner par les essences de plantes”.

At this stage aromatherapy began popping up all over Europe; Italian doctors Gatti and Cojola start researching the psychological effects of essential oils in the 20:s; In the 70:s their work was followed up by Professor Paolo Rovesti at the University of Milan.

Mme Maury, an Austrian cosmetologist, introduced the idea of massage combined with essential oils in the 50:s. Not being a doctor, she was looking for other ways of administering the essential oils. By blending – or diluting – them with vegetable oil, the resulting blend was milder and could be used directly on the skin without irritating it. Most of her clients were healthy women that wanted beauty-treatments and the results of the aromatherapy was astounding; not only did it make the skin look better, it also had other effects such as relief from rheumathic pain, stronger libido, better and deeper sleep and an overall mood-enhancing effect. In the early 60:s Mme Maury opened her first clinic in London where she also held workshops and training. Some well-known names trained for her in the late 70:s; Robert Tisserand, Shirley Price and Patricia Davis are some of them.

The final break-through for aromatherapy as a valued alternative health practice came in the late 80:s and early 90:s when it finally became a recognized profession in many countries. In Britain and Sweden the training is state-supported and sometimes subsidized.

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Avoid Certain Additives in Baby Skincare Products

You should read the ingredients of your baby”s skincare products very carefully to avoid certain ingredients that are potentially harmful. This includes shampoos, lotions, bath soaps and creams. Some of these ingredients may even be contained in “natural” products.

Here”s a handy list of synthetic ingredients to avoid in baby”s products:

* Alcohol: This harsh additive can make body tissues more vulnerable to carcinogens. Special note: Check your mouthwash to make sure it doesn”t contain alcohol; if it does, throw it out and purchase a brand that doesn”t. This is one of the number one ways that toddlers are poisoned in the household.

* Alpha hydroxyl acid: This removes the skin”s protective barrier, which can result in long-term skin damage.

* Animal fat, or tallow: Lye and animal fats and lye are found in many bar soaps, which can be a breed bacteria.

* Collagen: This is an insoluble protein derived from animal skins. The protein is too large to actually penetrate the skin, therefore it forms a filmy layer that can suffocate the skin.

* Diethanolamine, or DEA: This is a crystalline alcohol that is often used as a solvent, emulsifier, emollient and detergent; it is a common ingredient in skin lotions. DEA can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. It also reacts in products that also contain nitrates to form potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines. You should also avoid triethanolamine, TEA, and monoethanolamine, or MEA.

* Elastin of high molecular weight: Like collagen, this is derived from animal sources and can suffocate the skin.

* Glycerin: Unless the air humidity is above 65 percent, glycerin draws moisture from the lower layers of the skin and retains it on the surface; this has the effect of drying skin from the inside out. But glycerin is completely harmless in toothpaste given the mouth”s natural moisture.

* Kaolin: This is a fine white clay that is actually used to produce porcelain. It suffocates and weakens the skin.

* Lanolin: This substance is extracted from wool; it is often contained in lotions.

* Lye: Lye is a highly concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. It is often mixed with animal fats to produce bar soap, which can corrode and dry skin.

* Mineral oil: This is a petroleum derivative. It forms an oily film over skin to retain moisture, but traps toxins and wastes; this suffocates normal skin respiration.

* Petrolatum: Like mineral oil, this is also petroleum-based and likewise keeps oxygen out of the skin.

* Propylene glycol: This form of mineral oil is also found in automatic brake fluid, hydraulic fluid, and industrial antifreeze! Would you want to rub those on your baby? Propylene glycol is a strong skin irritant; it can also cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

* Sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS: This is a harsh detergent used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and auto cleaning products! SLS can prevent your baby”s eyes from properly developing. It”s also a common skin irritant. It”s also rapidly absorbed by the eyes, brain, heart, and liver; it can also slow healing and cause cataracts in adults.

* Sodium laureth sulfate, or SLES: This is an alcohol form of SLS; it is slightly less irritating but more drying. SLS and SLES can react with other ingredients to cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins. A large amount of nitrates can enter the blood stream during one shampooing.

* Talc: This soft gray-green mineral can be harmful if inhaled; it is recognized as a potential carcinogen.

(Source; http://www.thefreelibrary.com)

AROMATHERAPY & CHILDREN

There is always hopeI have quite a few children that come to me for different reasons, ranging in age from babies to adolescents, usually they are between 5 and 16 years old. There are plenty of reasons why a child / adolescent would need to see a therapist not least because of stress. Growing up is not so easy and there are so many different signals and pressures in a child’s life to make it confusing. At different points in life we need different back-ups – I am one.

When a child comes to me I usually have some information from parents and/or teachers beforehand so I have some vague idea of what is going on. When the child comes I ask questions and talk to him/her to get an idea of what is going on. Usually information comes through words or posture that even surprises the parents. Children are very clear and easy to read, but you need to watch carefully.  Once I have a good connection with the child and she/he is feeling safe and calm, I choose a range of essential oils for testing.

girl smelling flower

I let the child smell one oil at a time, paying close attention to visible and invisible signals from the child as well as preference; like / don’t like. Usually we end up with 3-4 oils that I then blend in a base of vegetable oil. What is really interesting is that the oils usually confirm or strengthen my  diagnosis of the child, sometimes a child’s choice of an oil gives me invaluable and extra information about what she/he is working on. The blend is of course very different scent-wise from individual essential oils, but the child always lights up when he/she smells his/her blended scent.

Massage child

At this point the parents need to get into the action. Children connect very deeply with a person who makes them feel safe and good and “seen”. This is why I never massage smaller children; they must not connect with me, but with their parents/care-takers. So I teach the parents to massage; when, where and how. I always give the oil-blend to the child when they leave, it enhances the feeling of being capable and positive which kick-starts the healing-process: The child feels that he/she has the power to change things. Another session is always booked for follow-up after 3 weeks time.

I have been able to positively help every child that ever came to me. If there are “problems” such as dyslexia, ADD etc we work around them, diminishing the idea of a problem and building up the idea of a challenge. A positive outlook on things changes a lot, but a child needs help with this, sometimes even the whole family.

There are always solutions

ESSENTIAL OIL & SCENT HISTORY part 3

Asklepios

The Greek God of healing was called Asklepios and his attribute is a staff around which a snake curls. The Asklepios-staff remains to this day a symbol of medicine and healing.

When the Roman Empire fell, so did a lot of the knowledge about herbs and aromatic substances. What was left moved into the cloisters of Europe. Plants were grown and cultivated in the gardens of the monasteries, monks, and later nuns,  made medicinal potions, wines, vinegars, liquors, infusions and other herbal extractions.

distillation

The art and knowledge of distillation was rediscovered by the Persian physician Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina, 980-1037) who had a passion for roses. He published his book “Canon of Medicine” in the 11:th century, which remained a standard work until the mid-sixteenth century. The Arabs were great explorers and colonizers and were responsible for introducing many new herbs and spices from the East, such as ginger and pepper amongst others. They created their main medical training center in Italy to which monks and nuns were sent from all of Europe. One of these nuns, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) wrote the much known herbal “Physica“. Her work is still referred to today.

hildegard von bingen

During the Plague or Black Death, it turned out that the glove-makers and perfumers seemed less susceptible to contamination, both these groups worked on a daily basis with essential oils. This knowledge was used by thieves who doused themselves in an aromatic vinegar to be able to rob the corpses. The essential oils used were: Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Camphor (cinnamomum camphora), Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Nutmeg (myristica fragrans), Sage (salvia officinalis) and Cinnamon (cinnamomum ceylanicum). These were mixed with pure garlic in vinegar.

The doctors wore full-fitting leather-robes and gloves, over their heads and faces the “bird-mask” was worn. The mask was doused with amber, nutmeg, cinnamon and other herbs, oils and spices, and they washed themselves twice daily with aromatic vinegars. Though this seemed to work well enough not to get contaminated, once the disease kicked in there was no cure or help.

plague doctor

In 1492 Columbus landed in what he thought was East Indies, but in reality was the Bahamas. This opened a channel for new plants and plant-matter from The Americas, such as Coca leaves that were chewed by the Incas, and balsams of Canada and Peru. These plants now entered the European pharmacopoeia.

cocaleaves

Coca leaves

Erythroxylon Coca

ESSENTIAL OIL & SCENT HISTORY part 2

China

Essential oil and scent history is really the history of plants and herbal medicine, since they are a part of it.

All ancient cultures used aromatic substances and herbs for cooking, healing, scenting and praying. The earliest written herbal text is the “Pen Tsao” (Great Herbal – still in print) which was compiled by Shen Nung, an emperor, during the time of 1 000 to 700 B.C. In this work is listed more than 350 medicinal plants and remedies. Another great and ancient work of plants and medicine is the “Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine” also still in print. Acupuncture was already used at this time and has since then spread all over the world, growing in popularity.

Aromatic substances also played an important role in the lives of the Sumerians who lived along the rivers of Eufrat and Tigris ca 4 000 B.C. They left inscriptions showing the use of herbs for healing. The Babylonians and Assyrians left inscriptions of their laws among which there are instructions for the use of plants and spices in medicine. In Persia a clay-vessel was found that is believed to be a crude form of distillation-apparatus. It is dated to 2 500 B.C. Similar vessels are still used in the area for distillation purposes.

In India the medicine of Ayur Veda has existed in written form since 1 000 B.C. Ayur Veda has become an increasingly popular form of alternative medicine and can today be found all over the world.

ayurveda

In ancient Rome and Greece medicine developed into a science. Hippocrates (468-377 B.C), known as the father of medicine compiled scripts known as “Corpus Hippocraticum”. Pedanius Dioscorides wrote the classic “De Materia Medica” in year 60 A.D. This work became the standard basic for medicine during the next 1 500 years. During this time the practice of medicine slowly started to divide into 2 routes;

  • Empirical; Seeing the body and mind as a whole, interacting unit. Knowledge comes from experience and studies.
  • Scientific; Seeing the body as a machine that can be repaired.  Knowledge comes from studying parts in isolation.

Medicine

SOFT DRINKS

http://health.yahoo.com/experts/drmao/20270/what-soft-drinks-are-doing-to-your-body/

Source: health.yahoo.com
Soda, pop, cola, soft drink — whatever you call it, it is one of the worst beverages that you could be drinking for your health.