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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?
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Topics in Aromatherapy-Avocado Oil

20 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 butter, patchouli and kokum butter.

This week, we are going to talk about Avocado oil.

What is avocado oil?

Avocado oil is  pressed from the pulp around the avocado’s pit (source)

What health benefits are linked to avocado oil?

Avocados have been known to have lots of health fats, nutrients and anti-oxidants (source) in them.  Even though they have a lot of calories per serving, these calories come from fats that are good for you and may even help you loose weight.

The oil from the avocado is used is cosmetics and touted as good for your skin due to  Vitamin A, B1, B2, D, and E,  amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids. It is believed to be beneficial for those with sensitive skin or problem skin (source)

There have not been many studies looking at the supposed health claims of avocado oil for cosmetic purposes, however, one study found that a vitamin B(12) cream with avocado oil could be a  well-tolerated, long-term topical therapy of psoriasis (source)

How can I use avocado oil?

Avocado oil is a carrier oil which means essential oils can be diluted into this oil to be added to lotions, shampoos, etc.

Question?

Have you ever bought a product with avocado oil in it?  If so, what product was it?  Did you think it make your skin look or feel healthier?

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 antiinflammatory (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-Ylang Ylang

21 Feb

Ylang Ylang

Welcome to the 5th 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 oil and lavender.

What is ylang ylang?

Ylang ylang is the common name for Cananga odorata, a fast growing tree with flowers that can reach a height of 40m.  It is grown in temperate climates.

The fragrance of ylang-ylang is  due to the components benzyl acetate, linalool, p-cresyl methyl ether, and methyl benzoate.  It has been said to smell like  rubber and custard with hints of jasmine and neroli (source).

What are the health benefits of ylang ylang?

Ylang ylang essential oil have been shown to:

  • Be antifungal and cytotoxic(source)
  • Repel beetles (source)
  • Be part of a compound, Slim339, which was shown to be a potential therapy for obesity (source)
  • Produce relaxation after applied on the skin (source)
  • Be antifungal, anti-mycobacterial, antimalarial and be able to kill human malignant melanoma cells (all in vitro)
  • Reduce psychological stress responses and serum cortisol (stress hormone that causes the retention of belly fat) (combination of lavender, ylangylang, and bergamot)  (source)
  • Reduce the blood pressure of individuals with essential hypertension (combination of lavender, ylangylang, and bergamot)  (source)

It has been shown that ylang-Ylang oil does not pose a health risk to humans (source)

How is ylang ylang used in aromatherapy?

As ylang ylang has shown to induce relaxation, this would be a great essential oil to put onto a pillow before you sleep or to add to a face scrub used at night.  Small quantities could be gently massaged into the temple or added to massage oil, lotions, etc.  People in the tropics actually use it to protect their hair from salt water damage. (source)

Question?

Have you ever heard of ylang ylang?  What scents do you find to be most relaxing?

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?