Plant Healer Magazine

The Beauty of the Enchanted Wood

The Beauty of the Enchanted Wood
Dinner Time

Beautiful Spring Visitors

Beautiful Spring Visitors

A special Summer Solstice visitor

A special Summer Solstice visitor

A Gift From the Goddess

A Gift From the Goddess
The most tiny of baby deer was waiting for me as I went to check things by my cabin this morning. So precious. The Mom left her where she knew she would be safe!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Quality

Shakespeare once said, “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Unfortunately, in the world of aromatherapy and essential oils, it is all too easy to be fooled. We may think we have purchased a pure oil, when in fact, we have purchased a cheap imitation that is anything but pure.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to benefit human beings physically, mentally, and emotionally. The essential oils enter the body through inhalation via the nose or olfactory system. They may also be ingested through a suitable carrier such as oil, where they penetrate the skin and eventually enter the circulatory system. Pure essential oils are the “life force” of the plant, and they cannot be duplicated in a lab with additives. These oils are obtained from plants’ roots, leaves, bark, stems, rhizomes, flowers, fruit rind or seed. These essential oils are the exclusive product from extraction of volatile aromatic principles or distilled oils. For this reason, it is important that a pure essential oil not be used directly on the skin. A single essential oil can contain well over 100 or more chemical constituents.
Adulteration of essential oils can occur at any stage in the supply chain. The distillation process is an important factor in the gathering of these oils. The use of pure water with no additives used in the distillation process, low temperature, low pressure and a long distillation time are needed to preserve the pure essence of the plant and to capture the quality of the essential oils.
A technique called GLC, or Gas Liquid Chromatography, is used to give a highly detailed analysis of the oil. This type of testing is the most common and will show any added adulterant. Other tests on essential oils are infrared, optical, rotation, specific gravity and mass spectrometry.
Adulteration of an essential oil can be as simple as adding a component to stretch or standardize the essential oil. It can be a simple or complex process. Examples of adulterations are added alcohol, the addition of lemon or orange terpenes, and synthetic additives such as DPG or PEA to “bulk” up or augment an oil. A common process of adulteration involves taking a cheap oil such as lavindin and selling it as lavender.
 When looking for a pure essential oil, it is important to do your homework. Many oils are sold as fragranced or perfumed oils and are considered adulterated. They have been cut with other oils or synthetic chemical components. This is why it is important not to purchase an oil based on scent alone. Perfumed oils are often mixed with chemical pesticides or other additives that dilute the oil so it can be produced at a cheaper price. The water used in distilling these “perfumed” oils may contain chlorine and other harmful chemicals.
Good quality essential oils will not feel greasy to the touch. These oils will be bottled in amber brown bottles so they will be shielded from light. Make sure the oils you purchase are certified organic. Pure essential oils will have a product specification sheet which describes how the oil was obtained and distilled and that tells you the country or region from which it came. It will have a batch number, production date and chemical data that lists the seven major components of essential oil. Traceable protocols will state that it contains no added water, alcohol, carriers or diluents.
Use common sense when dealing with essential oils. Although many essential oils are GRAS, or, generally regarded as safe by the FDA for internal use, check with a qualified aromatherapist or herbalist first. Since pure essential oils are volatile, do not use them near heat or flames. Some oils will cause sun sensitivity, especially those in the citrus family. Always dilute an essential oil before applying it to skin to avoid irritation. Store your oils out of direct light and heat and be sure to replace the cap tightly to avoid evaporation. Citrus oils can be refrigerated. If you mix your oils with a carrier oil, the shelf life of the oil will depend on the type of carrier oil used. For safety reasons, follow any precautions listed on the oil, as many are not considered safe during pregnancy. Above all, remember that aromatherapy is only as good as the quality of essential oils used.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prayer to the Goddess of the Moon

               Wondrous Lady of the Moon
               You who greets the dusk with silvered kisses;
               Mistress of the night and of all magicks,
               who rides the clouds in blackened skies
               and spills light upon the cold Earth;
               O Lunar Goddess,
               Shadow maker and shadow breaker;
               Revealer of mysteries past and present;
               Puller of seas and ruler of women;
               All-wise Lunar Mother,
               I greet your celestial jewel
               at the waxing of its powers
               With a rite in Your honor.
               I pray by the Moon,
               I pray by the Moon,
               I pray by the Moon.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Many Uses of Lavender

 Lavender, the fragrant woody perennial herb, has over twenty-eight species and an even greater multitude of varieties. It dates back as far as the first century and to ancient Rome and Greece. It was even used among the ancient Egyptians in the mummification process. It has enjoyed its popularity over time for a variety of uses that still continue today. Lavender essential oil is the most popular in the United States, outselling all the other essential oils. If you have never had the intense pleasure of inhaling pure lavender essential oil, you are in for quite a treat!

Traditional uses for lavender included expelling worms from children, and use against lice and insect bites. Lavender was also a popular strewing herb for disinfection. More common uses are for stress relief, insomnia, depression and indigestion. It is used in several pharmaceutical products including antiseptics, cosmetics and anti-inflammatory products. Lavender was used extensively during the 19th century in the making of perfume. It is interesting to note that during World War I and II, that lavender was used when medical supplies were scarce to prevent infection and to relieve pain.

Over the centuries, lavender has been associated with powers in love, chastity, longevity, protection, purification and happiness. Inhaling the scent of lavender is known to increase the alpha brain waves in the back of the head, aiding in relaxation and tranquility. Thus, our immune system is boosted by the benefit of lavender.

Growing lavender requires full sun, space between plants and good drainage. Lavender does not like "wet feet", so excellent drainage is essential. It is best harvested just before flowering, when the oil concentration is highest. With all the varieties available, it will not be hard to find one suited to your growing area. Flower colors range from white, to pink, blue and purple. Professionally, lavender is distilled for use in essential oils by steam.

When purchasing lavender, become familiar with each variety's botanical name. The most widely grown is the hardy Lavandula Angustifolia, also known as L. vera, L. officinalis, or English Lavender. They can range in height from a mere 8" to over three feet tall. Other popular varieties known for their sweet fragrance are 'Munstead' and 'Hidcote' lavender.

Other uses of lavender include dabbing it on your temples when you have a headache and using it on pillows to combat insomnia. It is a common ingredient in sachets and potpourri and is used to scent linens and prevent moth and bug activity. It is also used in flower arranging and crafts, i.e., lavender wands.

Lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be applied "neat" to the body without the addition of a carrier oil. It is useful on burns, insect bites and minor skin irritations. Mixing fifteen drops of pure lavender essential oil with common bath salts such as sea or Epsom salts will provide a bath that is pure heaven!

Lavender also has culinary uses. It is used to flavor jellies, honeys, cookies and breads. A wonderfully relaxing tea or tisane can be made using boiling water, honey and lavender flowers.

 Katherine Turcotte 's article appeared originally online in Body,Mind,Spirit Magazine Online.