Monthly Archives: October 2010

AVOCADO AND OLIVE-OIL

There are 2 oils that are pressed from the fruit-pulp rather than from the nut or seed:

Avocado Oil (Persea gratissima / P. americana): The fresh, oily pulp of the fruit is pressed or centrifuged to yield its oil, after which it is filtered. The oil is green due to its chlorophyll content. The freshly pressed oil degrades quickly when exposes to sunlight, making the oil turn brown – at this point it is off and should not be used. The scent is strong and fruity, when it starts to go off, the scent becomes earthy-moldy. Most avocado-oil is refined to make it more stable, it then has a light yellow color and hardly any scent. Sometimes a coloring agent is added to create the green color and raise the price. Make sure you get your oil from a reputed distributor. Store cool and dark. The oil hardens when cold but goes soft in room-temperature.

Avocado oil is rich in vitamins – especially vitamin D and E. It also contains different sterols that can have a healing effect on various skin-problems. Avocado oil is softening, protecting and cell-regenerating for the skin and absorbed rather easily. Use it on dry, damaged and mature skin.

Olive Oil (Olea europea): . When the fruits are stored free radicals are formed which impairs the quality. Therefor the  fruits need to be pressed immediately after harvest. By carefully cold-pressing the whole fruit, including the skin, the extra virgin oil is obtained. Next quality-level is Virgin fine. These are the oils that should be used both for culinary and cosmetic purposes. The oil is green due to its chlorophyll content and it has a strong, characteristic scent of olives. Olive oil is stable and will keep even in room-temperature. When stored cool (10 degrees celsius or colder) the oil will go cloudy and at colder temperatures it will harden.

Olive oil is mainly used for culinary use and this is how we best receive its health benefits. Use it for cooking, on salads, bread, vegetables… A true virgin oil has a wonderful taste, I don’t use that for cooking since it destroys the scent/taste. Rather I use a lesser degree for cooking and save the glorious virgin for use on salads, bread, vegetables etc.

For cosmetic use it is a bit heavy and it has a strong scent. That said, it is anti-inflammatory and can be used for eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, sunburn and insect-bites. Use with chapped, dry skin and brittle nails. Blend with lighter vegetable oils for skin-care.

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A GIFT FROM NATURE: VEGETABLE OILS

Some of the absolutely best products nature offers are fats and oils. They are rich in all kinds of minerals, vitamins and pure life-force. We  use vegetable oils and fats in our daily life without even thinking about it as an essential part of health. Just as a pure, unadulterated cold-pressed vegetable oil can bring positive results to our health, so can “treated” oils be outright health-hazards.

There are oils and oils…

  • Mineral oils: Also called vaseline, paraffin. They are a bi-product from the petrochemical industry (together with diesel, plastic, asphalt and much more…). They are widely used by the cosmetics industry as they are cheap and stable. Most baby-oils are mineral-oil with a bit of perfume. Mineral oils clog the pores and halts normal skin-function. They might seem softening at first, but over time mineral-oil deteriorates the skin, leaving it dry and brittle. Mineral oils contain nothing whatsoever that is beneficial to humans and they come from a non-renewable source. This is NOT a vegetable oil!
  • Cold pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are pressed in mills without any added heat, though the friction of the mill can after some time create heat up to 70 degrees celsius, hence the different “degrees” of cold-pressed oils. For high-quality cold-pressed vegetable oils, smaller amounts are pressed each time, so as not to create friction-heat. The yield is lower than when heat is used and these oils are usually pressed by small growers or millers. The remaining pulp is used as animal-fodder. After filtering the oil is bottled. These oils have their own specific scent and color and they contain essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. If stored properly (cool and dark) the shelf-life is 1-3 years, depending on the amount of mono and unsaturated fatty acids in the oil.
  • Heat pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are ground to a pulp and heated to about 100 degrees celsius. The heated pulp is then pressed to extract the oil. By heating, more oil can be extracted. The remaining pulp is then re-heated and re-pressed to yield as much oil as possible. After extraction the oils are centrifuged to remove particles.
  • Extraction: This method is often used together with heat-pressing to extract the maximum amount of oil possible. A solvent, Hexane , is used to extract the oil. The raw material (pulp) is mixed with hexane, filtered and distilled. Since hexane has a lower boiling-point than the oil, it becomes gaseous and is distilled off, only to be collected and re-used since it turns into  a liquid once it’s cooled.
  • Refining: This is done with all vegetable oils that are used by cosmetics and  food-industry (heat-pressed and solvent-extracted oils).
  1. Lecithin and proteins are removed with the help of phosphor or citric acid.
  2. Fatty acids are removed with the help of lye (caustic soda), which creates a kind of soap that is washed out with water. Then the oil is vaccum-dried.
  3. Bleaching is done by mixing the oil with oxygen-activated mud which is then filtered off.
  4. Deodorising is done to remove scent and taste from the oil. It is done by low-pressure steam-boiling at a temperature of 200 degrees celsius.

There are a few more processes that the oil might go through before being sent off to its destination. Would you ever want to eat or use these processed products? Not only do they contain NOTHING of value, they might as well be harmful. Many years ago there was a scandal in Spain concerning vegetable oils, people died. The reason was that the lye used to refine the oil was not properly removed…the lye corroded the intestines of these people.

A cold-pressed vegetable oil will cost a little bit more, it will be less stable – going rancid with time or bad storage. It will have a taste and scent. Knowing this, do you really believe that you should use the oils you find in the supermarket? The ones sitting on the shelves in a warm and light environment? The ones with no taste, smell or color? I distrust everything that doesn’t go bad over time.


My friend and mentor Jan Kusmirek has written a wonderful book on vegetable oils called “Liquid Sunshine“. You can find it here.

CHASE AWAY THE WINTER BLUES

To many people this time of year brings an all-time low. It gets colder and darker and our energy plummets. This is believed to occur because the hormone serotonin decreases when there is less light.

There are plenty of ways how to bring energy and joy back into life as the nights get longer (and actually start creeping into daytime…).

  • Enjoy the season; This is a time to go indoors; light candles, buy flowers, make your home cozy; this is your space of retreat. Experience the bliss of sitting in the warmth of your home with lit candles, watching the cold darkness outside.
  • Pamper yourself: Take warm baths, create a home-spa; rub, buff, peel and moisturize! Go for a massage.
  • Un-clutter: Go through ”all that stuff”; pictures, books, papers, clothes. Use this indoor-time to clear your living-space and allow yourself the joy of uncluttered living. Believe it or not, but this is a great boost for serotonine-levels in the brain. Clutter creates stress.
  • Meditation: Take time out each day for yourself, 10 minutes is enough. Light some candles, put on relaxing music, lie or sit comfortably, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Really bring the breath all the way down into your belly. Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about the timing. These minutes will feel longer than they are… Great energizer!
  • Get outside EVERY day: Even for only a little while. Your system needs day-light and exercise in order to function. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Just get out there and walk or jump around for a while. It will boost your energy-levels and you will feel great! (then you can crawl onto your sofa with a steaming cup of tea and a good book, or movie…BLISS!)
  • Herbal teas & natural remedies: St Johns wort, Lemonbalm, lavender… Stay clear of too much stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugars.
  • Aromatherapy: Of course. Essential oils are a great help to help with emotions and stress. They also work directly with the hormonal system. Use uplifting oils in a burner or on a tissue to inhale. Great scents for winter are: Citrus-oils (orange, mandarin, lemon, grape…), Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Geranium and/or whatever you prefer. Remember; essential oils are strongly concentrated and only a few drops are needed to have an effect.
  • Thought-patterns: When you feel yourself thinking negatively, change your thoughts, think of uplifting things.

 

Remember: This doesn’t just happen by itself. You are responsible for your well-being. No matter how difficult or un-attractive it might seem to exercise, for example. Just do it and you will notice what an incredible change it makes!

In the times when people still lived in harmony with nature and seasonal changes, this was a time for togetherness and preparation for the hectic spring/summer season. Bedtime came earlier because of the dark.When we remember the rhythm of the seasons and allow ourselves to fit into this rhythm, we handle seasonal changes better. Once spring comes again there will be an explosion of action and energy…then we need to be rested.

For ideas on how to use essential oils, see earlier posts under the “aromatherapy” category.

 

THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL; the madness of change

When profound changes occur in life, there is a crisis which creates inner madness. Most people who come to me are in the process of change and to most of them it is as if the rug was pulled out from under their feet. We all go about our lives believing that we know what tomorrow will bring, thinking we know ourselves and we form habits and patterns to ensure us of this safety. For some people the change comes in the disguise of illness, loosing a job, death or birth. For others it is something that creeps up over time; a sense of discontent or un-fulfillment. Whatever the reason, madness occurs. Not the kind where we lose control and run screaming through the streets, though we might like to, but a silent, inner confusion where we feel that we are traveling in unknown territory without a map.

A lot of people get scared and think they are “loosing it”; they’re not. Change is profound and for this to occur all our old habits and patterns are shattered to make place for the new Self. This is the dark night of the soul (The great mystics called the dark night of the soul a gift of grace), a moment of inner death. Once you pass through this madness you can reconstruct yourself on personal and spiritual values, finding clarity within. Life-changes may be dramatic but they are necessary for personal evolution, to find the true calling in life.

The same thing happens to anybody who trains for a therapeutic profession; every student I ever trained went through this process and they had to change their lives in some manner to fit with the truths they found within. When I did my own training my whole Self was ripped to pieces and I felt confused, scared and lost (the dark night of my soul). Over time, with guidance, I found my path in life and little by little I reconstructed myself from within – as opposed to being a product of my environment.

This process will happen as sure as night follows day. Every person who works with the development of others; therapists, coaches or teachers, need to be aware of this and have some kind of plan how to help people through it. If you don’t have the knowledge yourself, make sure that you have back-up from other professionals to whom you can refer.

THE ART OF SILENCE

Everybody who works with people need to take an oath of silence, even if it is only to themselves. As a therapist or coach you learn so much about the people you work with, private stuff, and for them to feel safe you need to make sure they understand that everything stays between the two of you. Everything! You also need to stay non-judgmental in your evaluation of their status and progress. I would like to stretch it and say that this also goes for friend-ship.

I never speak of my clients except very special cases that I use as examples when I am doing conferences or trainings and then I always ask permission and make sure nobody knows who the client is.

When I meet a client “in the street” I don’t mention how we know each-other, I just say hello and stick to non-committal small talk. If they want to bring up our client-therapist relationship, it’s up to them. I never ignore a client, no matter how nervous they may seem to see me in another setting. And trust me, sometimes they look very uncomfortable. If somebody asks I just say that we have met “somewhere”.

Another point is when I work one-on-one with people who are related in any way; It does happen that they ask me about each-other, looking for information or wanting me to interfere in some way. I very clearly make them aware that this will not happen unless they come to see me together.

I don’t ask my private clients for testimonials to use as publicity since this puts them in a very awkward situation; if they are happy with my work they will feel they are letting me down if they say no, and most people don’t feel comfortable giving testimonials, even if their name is not mentioned: It moves the energetics of our work from private to public.

In my early days I was not as well-trained in these matters and I made slips and mistakes, always wanting to kick myself afterwards. Nowadays, whatever goes on in the treatment-room stays there. A special place has been created in me that has no connection to my world outside or to me. It is the “treatment-room within me”, so to speak.

All my clients are referrals; from other clients or health-professionals and the reason for this is because I can be trusted. This is the best publicity ever.