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Topics in Aromatherapy-Argan Oil

27 Mar

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butterpatchouli, kokum butter and avocado oil.  This week, we are going to talk about argan oil.

What is argan oil?

Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree (see above) that is endemic to Morocco  (source).  This oil is unique as it is mainly composed of  mono-unsaturated (up to 80%) fatty acids(source).  The oil is also very high in gamma -tocopherol (Vitamin E)(source) and have a high level of oleic and linoleic acids and phenols

What are the health benefits of argan oil?

Argan oil has shown to:

  • Reduces cardiovascular risk and may be  anti-atherogenic  (source)
  • Posess strong chemopreventive and anti-inflammatory properties likely due to its high Vitamin E content (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to decrease the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation (which leads to atherosclerosis) in type 2 diabetes patients with dyslipidemia(source)
  • Perhaps have a role in reducing weight loss in diabetics, and even in inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes.(source)
  • Improve some of the metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high fat feeding (in mice) (source)
  • Perhaps have the ability to prevent prostate cancer (source)
  • Have the ability to lower triglycerides in men (source)

How can I use it?

Argan oil is commonly used by Moroccans in the cooking as well as body care.  It is used to  treat damaged, dry or brittle hair  (source) and can be used in lotions and other body care products.
My hairdresser uses it but that is the only time I have ever seen it.
A really neat feature is that argan oil is made largely by a Argan Co-operative  which is a group consisting only of women in Morocco which manufactures oil on a large scale (source)
Question?
Have you ever heard of argan oil?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Kokum Butter

13 Mar

Kokum Butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang,shea butter and patchouli.

This week, we are going to talk about kokum butter.

What is kokum butter?

Kokum butter is obtained from the Indian tree Garcinia indica. (source).  This tree is commonly known as kokum and has various names across India, including aamsol, aamsul, bindin, biran, bhirand, bhinda, bhrinda, brinda, bin’na, kokum (alternate spellings kokam and cocum), katambi, looikya, sour apple, panarpuli, ratamba (source)

Kokum fruit

The fruit is dried in the sun to get the spice aamsul or kokam which is a blackish-red color and used in dishes such as lentil soup (source).

What health benefits does it have?

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, a supplier of numerous natural products:

Kokum Butter is rich in essential fatty acids, which aid in cell oxygenation and make nutrients more readily available for use by skin tissues. Kokum Butter also contains antioxidant vitamin E.  Kokum Butter is a non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) material that aids quick absorption and adds a premium texture to your cream emulsions. Kokum Butter helps regenerate tired and worn skin cells and supports skin elasticity and general flexibility of the skin wall. It has been used traditionally in India to soften skin and restore elasticity and as a balm for dry, cracked, rough and calloused skin. It is also beneficial for the treatment of many different conditions, such as:

  • Helps prevent dry skin and wrinkles
  • Helps regenerate skin cells (Source)

I looked to see if I could find any scientific literature backing up these claims, but I couldn’t find anything.

How can I use it?

Also according to Mountain Rose Herbs:

With its relatively higher melt point, it melts slightly at skin temperatures making it ideal for lipsticks and balms; it‘s also a great addition to bar soaps and skin lotions and may be easily incorporated into Lotions, Creams, and Body Butters. It is also wonderful to use in the summer as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure to reduce possibility of the skin peeling or becoming dried out.  Use as an addition to:

  • Creams, lotions, balms
  • Cosmetic foundations
  • Lipsticks
  • Conditioners
  • Moisturizers(Source)

I have been thinking about buying some kokum butter with which to make lotion.  I currently use shea butter, but shea butter is not very conducive to adding essential oils to.  Has anyone ever used kokum butter to make their own lotion?

Question?

Have you ever bought anything with kokum butter in it?  If so, what?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Patchouli

6 Mar

Patchouli

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavenderylang ylang and shea butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Patchouli.

Patchouli is a herb of the mint family that has small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant grows natively in Asia and is cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines,Thailand, and Vietnam and West Africa.

This herb is used in perfume and in products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners (source).

What studies have been done on Patchouli?

Patchouli has shown to be able to:

  • Protection against influenza infection in mice (source)
  • Be anti-inflammatory (source)
  • Act as a mosquito repellent (source)

Patchouli is is currently used in aromatherapy to help fever, headache, nausea, vomit, diarrhea, skin infections and bad breath as well as act as an aphrodisiac (source) but I couldn’t find any reputable sources proving these functions.

Question?

Have you ever heard of patchouli?  If so, in what products have you used it?

Topics in Aromatherapy-Shea butter

28 Feb

Shea butter

Welcome to the next post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oilsweet almond oillavender and ylang ylang.

This week, we are going to talk about shea butter.

What is shea butter?

Shea butter is a slightly yellowish or ivory-colored fat from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) (source)

Shea butter is widely used where it is grown as a cooking oil, for soap, and in pharmacological and cosmetic products.

Shea butter can be unrefined or refined via chemicals or clay  (source).  Refined shea butter and is white and has had less of an odor

What health benefits does it have?

Shea butter has Vitamin E in it (source)

In fact, it was shown that the Vitamin E content of shea butter actually differs depending on where the tree was grown due to climate differences (source)

Shea butter also has oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and arachdic acid, all fatty acids (source)

Shea butter has shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor promoting compounds. (source)
It has been used traditionally to relieve nasal inflammation and may rival conventional nasal drops (source)

How can you use shea butter?

Shea butter is quite hard at room temperature but will dissolve with body heat.  You can use it right from the container or melt it with some liquid oil (jojoba, sweet almond, etc) to make it smoother at room temperature.
I buy my shea butter from Amazon and it’s unrefined, from Africa.  
Question?
Do you use shea butter?  Do you use it plain or with additional oils?  What do you think of its smell?

Topics in Aromatherapy

14 Feb

Topics in Aromatherapy-Lavender

Welcome to the 4th post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I am focusing on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oiltea tree oil and sweet almond oil.

This week, we are going to talk about lavender.

What is lavender?

Lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. (source)

What claims have been made about lavender?

A number of studies have reported that lavender essential oil may be beneficial in a variety of conditions, including:

  • insomnia
  • alopecia (hair loss)
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • post-operative pain
  • being antibacterial and antiviral
  • The German Standard license and European guidelines for medicinal tea preparation lists lavender for use in sleep disorders, lack of appetite, mild tranquilizer, and treatment of irritable stomach (source)

What studies have been done about lavender?

Most of the studies concerning lavender were not well carried out, too small or used a non-standard dosing of lavender

Some reputable studies have found:

  • The combination of lavender and imipramine was significantly more effective than imipramine alone in treating depression (source)
  • Animal models have found that Lavandula angustifolia can treat painful and inflammatory conditions (source)
  • Lavender extract can reverse learning deficits in rats with Alzheimer’s Disease (source)
  • Lavender oil is effective in reducing challenging behaviours in individuals with dementia (source)
  • Lavender has shown to decreased perception of stress in nurses (source)
  • Lavender was shown to reduce needed pain medication, improve sleep patterns and enhance perception of well-being in patients with rheumatoid arthritis  (source)
  • Lavender was found to be anti-fungal  (source) and anti-bacterial(source)

How it is used in aromatherapy?

Commercial preparations are made from dried flowers and essential oils of the lavender plant to be used in:

  • Aromatherapy oil
  • Bath gels
  • Extracts
  • Infusions
  • Lotions
  • Soaps
  • Teas
  • Tinctures
  • Whole, dried flowers

(source)

I recently made some lotion and a face scrub with dried lavender and they smell so lovely and are very relaxing.

Cooking with lavender

Lavender is also used in cooking:

  • Its flowers yield a nectar which is transformed by bees into honey.
  • Its flowers can be candied for cake decorations
  • It can be made into sugar
  • It may be blended with tea
  • It can be added to baked goods (source)

Cautions

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender (source)

Question?

Have you used lavender before?  What is your favorite way to use it?  Have you grown lavender?

Topics In Aromatherapy-Sweet Almond Oil

31 Jan

Topics in Aromatherapy-Sweet Almond Oil

Welcome to the 3rd post in my blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I will focus on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  So far, we have talked about jojoba oil and tea tree oil.

What is sweet almond oil from?

The fruit of the almond is not a true nut, but a drupe.  A drupe has an outer hull and a hard shell with the “nut” inside (source)

The fruit of Prunus dulcis (almond plant) are mainly sweet but a few bitter almonds can be on each tree (source).  The bitter almond is shorter and broader than the sweet almond and has 50% of the fixed oil found in sweet almonds(source).

Sweet almonds are about 49% oils.  62% is monounsaturated oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), 24% is linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid), and 6% is palmitic acid (a saturated fatty acid) (source)

Bitter almonds may yield from 4–9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond.(source)(source)

What health properties does sweet almond oil have?

Sweet almond oil has been been “shown” to:

  • Be an excellent emollient and moisturizer.
  • Be  similar in composition to the oil baby’s excrete to keep their skin and hair healthy.
  • Used to treat dry skin
  • Relieve  itchiness, soreness, rashes, dryness, irritation and burns.
  • Keep the proper balance of moisture in the skin
  • Be used  on the delicate skin under the eye to prevent “crow’s feet”.

What studies have been done on sweet almond oil?

Actually, none that I could find to support the above claims.  This may be due to the fact that sweet almond oil actually can’t perform these functions or because there is no funding to carry out these studies.

How is sweet almond oil used in aromatherpy?

Like jojoba oil, sweet almond oil is referred to as a carrier oil which is used to dilute essential oils and help the absorption of the solution into the skin.  Sweet almond oil can be used as part of massage oil, in lotionface scrubsshampoos and conditioners. Sweet almond  oil can also be used plain on the skin or hair for moisturizing.

I currently use sweet almond oil in my daily face scrub.  I mix

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 tsp Vitamin E oil
  • essential oils (so far I have used lavendar/rosemsary/tea tree and lemon/orange/tea tree)

As this scrub is slightly oily, I follow it with a toner that I make with equal parts green tea/water and some essential oils.

Caution:  As some can be allergies to almonds, use this and all aromatherapy tools cautiously and only on a small part of your body to test your reaction (source)

Question?

Have you heard of sweet almond oil before?  How do you figure out of the health claim of a product is true?

Topics in Aroma Therapy-Tea Tree Oil

24 Jan

Healing Properties of Tea Tree Oil

(source)

Welcome to the 2nd post in my new blog series, Topic in Aromatherapy.  Each week I will focus on an aspect of aromatherapy such as an essential oil or carrier oil and discuss their healing properties.  I also will discuss how to make some of your own natural products using essential oils.  Last week we talked about jojoba oil.

What is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a pale yellow colour to nearly colorless and clear essential oil (source) from leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia (see picture above), a plant native to Australia (source).

Over 98 compounds are contained in the oil (source)

What studies have ben done on tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil has shown to be:

  • antiviral against herpes simplex virus in culture (source)
  • able to kill head lice in vitro (source)
  • comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of moderate common acne (although with a slower onset) (source)
  • antibacterial againist bacteria known to cause acne (source) and a wide range of other bacteria (source)
  • able to treat dandruff with a 5% solution (source)
  • antifungal (source) for a wide variety of fungi (source) (source)
  • antiprotzoal (source)
  • comparable to clotrimazole in effectiveness against onychomycosis (toe fungal infection) (source)
  • able to kill the yeast Candida in vitro (source)
  • more effective than commercial medications against the scabies mite in vitro (source)
  • anti-inflammatory(source)

This paper has a great summary of most of the studies I cited above

How can you use tea tree oil in aromatherapy?

There are endless uses for tea tree oil!  You can use it at 100% concentration (see warning below about a possible skin irritation) to treat the above mentioned diseases.  You can also add it to your shampoo, lotion, a vaporizer or even used it as part of a house cleaner (source)!

If you don’t want to use the tea tree oil at 100% you can add 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil to half a cup of the carrier oil (such as olive oil or jojoba oil).

Are there any risks to using tea tree oil?

Don’t use it orally!

According to the American Cancer Society

“Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed. It has been reported to cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, blood cell abnormalities, and severe rashes. It should be kept away from pets and children.” (source)

Only 1 out of 725 patients experienced an allergic reaction when tea tree oil was applied to the skin at 1% dilution (source)

Question?

Have you used tea tree oil before?  If so, how have you used it?

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